Look – knowing who you are is your strongest asset. You can’t relate to others – friends, partners, coworkers, anyone! – if you don’t know yourself.
Photo by Ben Weber on Unsplash
As life transitions from one season to the next, it’s normal to feel a little lost at times. But we enter into dangerous territory when we completely let go, compromise ourselves and our values, and feel like we’ve lost ourselves within a relationship, a career, or even as a parent.
I know lots of moms who can’t see themselves anymore outside of their role of mom.
Do you know what happens to these women once their babies grow up?
Without getting in touch with who they are at some point between here and there, they are in for a rude awakening.
And the not-so-fun truth that goes along with it, is that while they have sacrificed themselves to build up their children, they have also modeled for those very same children that the identity and character that they have worked hard to build can be put aside depending on who you are around and what their expectations are from you.
So how do we find our identity if we’ve lost it – or if we can’t quite define it?
1. Define your values.
Take some time to process where you feel as though you are compromising. Usually this comes with discomfort or unease. What is missing, or what value is being compromised in that particular area?
What would it look like if you made decisions that didn’t compromise that value? What would your relationships, your work, your family begin to look like?
Are there certain people or groups that make you feel this way? What is it that you gain from being around people that force you to compromise yourself?
Is it worth it?
2. Solidify your tribe.
Where are your people? The people in your life that are truth-tellers. The ones that you feel free, comfortable, and confident around. Not because of them – but because of who you are when you are around them.
A good, supportive group of friends (or family) can go a long way in helping you to figure out who you are.
Good friends allow you to be yourself no matter what is happening in your life – you don’t have to feel as though you need to act differently around them.
They challenge you, but don’t want to change you.
They encourage you, inspire you, and build you up.
You don’t compare each other’s lives, but instead spend time cheering each other on, towards your own, individual goals.
3. Take. Care. Of. You.
Self-care. It’s usually the first thing to go when you start compromising.
Come up with your self-care plan.
Find some balance in your life.
Take care of yourself – mind, body, & soul. Make it a priority. You can’t take care of anyone else until you are taken care of – so do you know what that looks like?
In a relationship, you have to be able to maintain your own interests. Separate “your” thing from “our” thing – and make sure that you have something that you can do on your own. If you didn’t have your normal daily responsibilities – what would you do with your time?
Set boundaries with people that don’t appreciate who you are, who make you feel bad about yourself, and who try to change you.
Process where you spend your time, and if you can delegate it, or say “no” to something. Give yourself permission to do those things if you are overwhelmed with responsibility.
A good portion of knowing who you are is taking back your time. You can’t own your time if you’ve given it to everyone else.
Finally, if there’s something in your life that has taken over the very essence of who you are – it’s time to reevaluate that thing. Whether it’s a relationship or a job – the world needs you back! We need you to fulfill your purpose, and you were made for more than that.
If you need support, still don't know where to start, or how to move forward - consider getting professional help. I specialize in helping people to discover (or rediscover) their identity, no matter where it was lost. You can contact me here, and we can talk about your next steps and how to move forward from right where you are.
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor serving South Carolina. She provides relationship and identity counseling online for busy moms and professionals. You can read more about her here.