One of the most important aspects of identity work is the identification of problematic identities that you want to change. Some of these identifications are ones you will want to change entirely, while others will involve a change in perception. You'll also find that some identities can't be changed entirely, because they are part of your experiences, but what can be changed is how you choose to relate to that identity. This means that you can have a traumatic event occur which becomes part of your identity. You can't change that the traumatic event occurred...it's part of you, but what you can change is how you interact with that event, how you use it shape your identity and your place in the world. As simple as that sounds, such work can be hard, but if you are willing to do the work, the resultant changes are worth it because of you become empowered.
The identification of needed identity work involves paying close attention to those aspects of identity you'd rather avoid, or where you have tension and emotional blockages. For example, in American culture, the body is usually an identity aspect that people need to work with. The majority of Americans have unhealthy relationships with their bodies, which are not always examined from a place of identity. When identity is brought into the picture, an exploration of the body becomes a history of how you've interacted with your body, as well as what comes up for you in relationship to your body and how you've tried to change your body. All of these issues play a role in shaping your identity around your body and they can only be changed when you confront them head on and recognize them for what they are: unneeded definitions about what your body ought to be according to mainstream culture. Once you've recognized those definitions, you can then create your own definitions which speak to the identity you want to establish with your body. This typically leads to healthier interactions because you are choosing the identity instead of having it foisted on you.
One of the ways I identify identity work is through meditation. Part of the meditation work focuses on the unresolved tensions I feel within myself. As I meditate, I allow the internal energy to flow around the tension I feel, gradually dissolving it, and in that process revealing whatever is at the core of the tension. I can then work with that core and relate it to my identity to determine how it contributes to the identity formation I have. Once I understand that, I can do the necessary work of changing that core tension into something which helps my identity and the desired reality I seek to create.
In your own identity work, look for those areas of your life that bring up feelings of stress and tension. Do you dread going into work or cringe when checking your balance? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells around people in your home? Do you find yourself doing an activity that isn't good for you, but you can't stop it? Spend some time paying close attention to your daily routines and whatever comes up for you while doing those routines. What you discover will provide you the necessary direction you need to move in, in order to start doing identity work. Embrace those areas of tension and stress, no matter how uncomfortable they might be. You can do meditation or some other magical work, but the focus of the work should be on helping you to understand how the stress/tension contributes to your identity, as well as how you can change your identity by addressing the stress and tension you feel.
Book Review: Fan Cultures by Matt Hill
The author explores fandom as a culture from the lens of religion, cult enthusiasm, and psychology. He offers an alternative perspective to the works of other pop culture studies academics. I found his insights about pop culture fandom and religion to be particularly fascinating. This book will give you a lot to consider about how fandom engages pop culture and makes it part of their lives, as well as what can be learned by exploring fandom from disciplines outside the norms of cultural studies. What I also found insightful was hit detailed exploration of the hierarchy of fan culture, which was useful for understanding how fan communities work. If you are interested in pop culture studies or pop culture in general, this is a good book to read.