The Camino de Santiago can also be a good therapeutic resource for those who lack self-confidence and self-esteem. It is not just a simple pilgrimage.
In a recent longitudinal study conducted by researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, and the University of Monterrey, Mexico, identity fusion is associated with pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. This study focuses on how pilgrims’ experiences influence their identity. In summary, the study confirms how participating in typical Camino de Santiago activities and the contact that is established with other pilgrims at the conclusion of the Camino helps identity change.
Importance of doing the Camino de Santiago for self-esteem
Social identity is defined as the importance attributed to belonging to a group, namely pilgrims. This importance allows personal identity to be defined in terms of the group.
If one’s own group, compared to others, is valued positively, one’s self-esteem will increase. However, as our social identity is very strong, personal identity dissolves and the norms and role we play in the group will guide behavior.
On the other hand, identity fusion constitutes a deep feeling of bonding with the group. People with this feeling tend to have closer relationships with the other members of the group. At the same time, this promotes the motivation of the bonded individuals to behave with their group as they would behave with themselves. But, in turn, personal relationships with other group members are also strengthened.
This identity fusion occurs when personal and social identities become penetrable. Thus, when our personal identity is at odds, for example, when something makes us feel humiliated, we may feel that the threat can also occur in our group. Consequently, the actions that will derive from that humiliation will be focused on improving the status of the group as well as the other members, apart from our self-esteem.
Why does the Way of St. James help self-esteem?
Establishing close relationships with people of all kinds can be very beneficial in regaining or improving self-confidence. Doing the Camino de Santiago can be a good opportunity to socialize if you are introverted. If you go in a group you can not only feel more confident but you can also practice tolerance and respect for others. It is a good option to get out of your comfort zone and do something different.
Doing the Camino de Santiago is a challenge in itself, it is an escape from the routines and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is an ideal experience to reconnect with yourself and practice detachment and the love of comfort. If you are one of those who find it hard to adapt to change, this can be a good way to correct it. In short, it is the best and most pleasant therapy to get to know yourself.