Our name is a big part of who we are. Our name reflects our identity. While we may not have been able to have a say in our name on the day we were born, it becomes a piece of who we are, how we see ourselves, and how others see us. Sometimes people decide to change their name. This may be because of a gender change, a family separation, or maybe a personal reason. At the end of the day, we can be whoever we want to be and have any name we please.
While there are many different reasons why someone may want to change their name, all reasons fall under the same umbrella. There has been a mental shift and their name no longer represents their identity. A new name means a new identity and for many people – a new opportunity to be who they truly want to be. Are you interested in learning more about the psychology of changing a name as well as how it affects people? Keep reading to learn 10 things to know about the psychology of changing your name.
Names have origins and meanings.
Some parents choose to find a name with meaning for their new baby. While sometimes a name just sounds good, that’s not always the intention behind a name. For example, the name Jonathan is a biblical name with a religious meaning of “gift of god.” Whether someone doesn’t like the meaning of their name or they want to have a name with a certain meaning, they may want to change their name.
Our name is tied to our ego.
A name represents our identity. Because of this, it can also represent our ego and how we value ourselves. Our name can be extremely representative of our self worth. For example: has someone that you know (such as a teacher or coworker) ever mispronounced your name and you found it insulting or demeaning? Your name is part of who you are. Someone mispronouncing your name may come across as not caring about you enough to want to say it correctly.
Another example is having a unique name as a children. Kids pick on other kids, especially those with different names or names that rhyme with funny words. This can affect our self worth and value as kids and adults.
Names say a lot about who we are.
As we mentioned above, many parents very tactfully choose their children’s names. Because of this intention, names can say a lot about who we are. Someone may want to change their name because they don’t relate to the one they were given or because they want a name that represents the shift that they’ve had in their life. For example, a gender or religion change. Names may be chosen to properly represent someone’s:
- family name
We can change our name if we want.
Our life is ours to live how we please. Whether it be where we live, the career we choose, the people we surround ourselves with, the way we spend our free time, the clothes we wear. All of these things make up our identity. While it may not be the most common way to feel ourselves, our name can be changed to be on par with these other things. At the end of the day, your name can be changed by filling out some forms. Names hold power and so do we!
There are many psychological reasons behind a name change.
There are many reasons why parents or guardians may choose a name. There are also many reasons why someone may want to change their name. Some of these psychological reasons may include:
- dislike of current name
- feeling name is too common, lack of uniqueness
- name doesn’t align with personality
- ridding of old identity associated with old name
- changing gender and wanting new name
- avoiding prejudice associated with old name
- not identifying with religion tied to old name
Sometimes people give us nicknames.
Nicknames are interesting. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we hate them. According to an article written by Child Research Net, “a nickname reflects how others view the person named and comes to mirror how that person sees himself/herself. Nicknames can affect a child’s self esteem positively or negatively.” While we can be given a nickname at any age, it do carries more power than we may think. Secondly, while a nickname is not a legal name change, it can still have many of the same psychological affects as fully changing your name.
We can give ourself a nickname if we want.
If someone is feeling that their name doesn’t properly represent them, they may give themselves a nickname. Children often feel this way when they have long names or names that are hard to pronounce. For example, their name is “Jedidiah” but they prefer to be called “Jed.” This feels more youthful and it helps them fit in better. A less permanent name change is a very common move for people of all ages and backgrounds.
There may be a mental transition period when changing your name.
While a name change doesn’t change who we are emotionally or physically, it does carry weight. Vakilsearch wrote an article on this topic titled “The Psychological Impact of Changing Your Name.” In the piece they share that “It could take some time to get used to hearing a different name and responding to it. This time of transition may cause disorientation and momentary identity dissonance. Acquiring a new name can be complicated by others’ responses and views, affecting self-perception.”
Some people may have an identity crisis and feel regret.
Often times an identity crisis happens after a major life event happens – something that was deeply tied to who we are and how we feel the world sees us. For example, graduating college, getting married, getting a divorce, retiring from a long career, etc. However, while someone people change their name to have a new identity, it may actually be more harmful than helpful. Studies report that some people who change their name are filled with regret and suffer from an identity crisis.
Changing your name can boost self esteem and happiness.
Alternatively from our point above, sometimes a name change can be the best thing that can happen to someone. If their old name kept them from feeling like themself, that is now a thing of the past. A name that fits us both emotionally and physically can be so helpful for boosting self esteem and finding happiness in life.