Our Blog


Monday, March 13th, 2023

by Nicole VanZuidam, MA


Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on the theological foundations of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.  Dr. Vogel presented both very educational and thought-provoking information on how these topics intertwine with one another.  A statement he made that I continue ruminating on is that many pieces of our identity are inherited or born into and there seems to be no choice about those pieces.  However, there are many pieces of our identity in which we have choice.  

It seems this process begins long before we have much awareness of the choices or the impact of those choices.   A large part of our identity is influenced by geography and genetics.  We obviously do not have any choice in those things.  By the time we are just a few years of age, different activities or groups we choose (or parents choose for us) to be involved in and people we associate with can impact our views or thought processes.  The involvement of these things contribute to our interests, talents, goals, habits, faith, personality, beliefs, career, etc.  Ideally, we have caring, intelligent adults in our lives who are walking alongside us while we decipher our options.  We can make choices that result in a very positive reflection of our identity, but many of us make at least a few choices along the way that, looking back, we would change.  Some of them seem insignificant or are just a blip on our radar.  Others, it seems we fight against and work hard the rest of our lives to change for ourselves or erase that association and past identity from the minds of others.  

Typically, things that are a part of our identity become a priority, taking up much of our time as well as a portion of our resources.  James W. Frick is known for his quote, “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

How much time, effort, and resources do I pour into the things I want to prioritize and be the make up of my identity? I use the word want because although there are things that are a part of our origin story we wish would have been different, we make choices that reflect how we prioritize pieces of our identity.  Sorting through some of those difficult times or pieces in our story can feel difficult and painful, but can play an integral part in bringing about healing, awareness, and pivoting to a new chapter. 

It can be intimidating or scary to entertain some of these questions about our identity, but very valuable in our attempts at an ongoing, upward trajectory of learning and stepping into the potential of everything we are each created to be.  At River Counseling, we are here to walk alongside you on your journey of exploration and growth.  We meet you where you are, offering hope.   You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.