I wrote this article because I’m asked so many times how it can be possible to move on from an abusive relationship. People wonder how is it that my past no longer affects me, whether I have regrets and how I can now trust again. But first things first, let me remind you; you WILL […]
Estrangement from different perspectives
As an estranged parent I am living through estrangement from one perspective: my own; but as a coach I deal with estrangements from several perspectives – and I must never assume that my own lived experience is the same as my clients’ experiences. Every single situation is individual and unique although there are some patterns […]
Why do people stay in abusive relationships?
How many times do you hear, ‘If I were in an abusive relationship I would leave’? Did you know that the above statement may even force someone deeper into an unhealthy relationship rather than encouraging them to leave – but why is it that people don’t escape at the first signs of toxic behaviour? In […]
The anxiety toolkit
I’ve pulled together many things relating to anxiety and made them available here for everyone. Please feel free to share so that it might help others too. For further reading, click here for a previous article of mine which explains more about anxiety and panic attacks. The first thing that I want to make quite […]
My personal grounding routine for anxiety
I’ve been asked by many people how I personally cope during periods of heightened anxiety or a panic attack so I hope the following helps you in some way. Do remember though, that we’re all different and you need to discover what routine works best for you. If you’d like some help to gently uncover […]
Importance of self identity
Do you have a strong sense of identity? Do you know who you are? Who you really are?
Of course, some of you might now be thinking to yourselves, what a stupid question! I know who I am and what I do. My name is …..and I like …… but this isn’t what I mean.
I don’t mean what is your name or what you do. I don’t mean your likes or your dislikes but I mean what makes you tick. I mean the more complicated layers of your character and your personality. Those that were forged right back in your early childhood and which have been added to over the years like layers of paint on a wooden door.
I am referring to the events and the experiences that were ingrained in you long before you can remember; yet which have become an inherent part of you.
Good and bad, they have all built layer upon layer to form your identity as it is now.
And in addition to the events that happened to you or the behavior of others towards you, will have been formed and moulded by your social environment, by your culture, your ‘tribe’.
Your frame of reference is what surrounded you in your home, the streets of your neighbourhood, the shops and your school while you were growing up It was in your religion, the social events and the friends that you kept. It was in the languages spoken around you and to you, your skin colour, your social class, the clothing that people wore and the food that you ate.
We place labels on ourselves and on other people. It’s human nature to catalogue and attach meaning to what we see. Almost unconsciously we learn to recognize those that are like us and those that are different. We absorb and we adapt to the labels that others have placed upon us. We are the good girl who mustn’t show off, the boy who must never cry when he falls and hurts himself or the older sister with the responsibility for younger siblings upon her shoulders.
We are the teenager desperate to fit in, the child desperately searching for validation from a disengaged parent and the unhappy soul who is doing his or her best to be invisible in order to avoid abuse.
So many adults are lost in some way or another. The void can sometimes be filled by a career, a family, a house and holidays. Shopping, drinking, partying and drugs can also glue the pieces together but very few of us can claim to be totally at ease with who we really are, or at least we can’t until we acknowledge and reflect upon what it is to be ourselves.
When we manage to make sense of what our identity is and who we really are, there is a shift in our lives. Things become clearer and we become more confident in our own skin. We search less for outside validation and we worry less about conforming to what is considered the norm. We are generally more content and we tend to do more of what we want and what makes us happy.
I should point out at this stage that there’s a clear distinction between recognizing and being comfortable with who we are and being perfect or seeming to have everything sorted in life. Getting our lives sorted is not about being perfect because nobody is perfect and anyway that’s just an impossible goal; which will never make one truly happy.
Feeling at ease with myself and who I truly am.
How can you build self identity?
We can never reach perfection because we are always growing and changing but we can be at ease with and accept ourselves.
We can work to understand and eradicate our insecurities.
We can do our best for ourselves and other people.
We can accept others (and ourselves) unconditionally, without judgment.
If we don’t know ourselves inside out then how can we ever be in a position to judge others?
And it’s in getting to the root of understanding ourselves that we uncover our own true identity.
When we understand how and why we think and act as we do and when we understand how our beliefs have been formed, then we can be secure in the knowledge of who we are.
Once you grasp this, whatever you have been hanging onto can be let go.
Believe me, it’s liberating, but it’s not easy.
Once you seriously start along this journey of establishing your sense of identity there will be light-bulb moments when it dawns on you why you feel certain deep emotions. For instance, can you remember when and why you first felt guilty? Do you know the very first time that you felt unsure of yourself? Do you know why you find it scary to walk into a party without knowing a soul there? When you understand why certain things have the power to make you feel a certain way, and possibly have been doing for most of your life, you can work on identifying the triggers and learn how to shrug them off.
Do you have a clear set of core values? Do you know why you believe the things that you do and why some things are more important to you in life? The morals that you live your life by are also a part of your identity and were developed according to your frame of reference while you were growing up.
As we leave home and enter the work place, college or we travel, we decide for ourselves which values and beliefs from our childhood we want to discard. We understand more about the world and we might want to follow a different path. We may change our view of what is right and wrong not realizing that our identity has been established and what was established as we grew up might not be who we identify with now.
The good news is that it is possible to build our self identity which can only help to make us stronger, more self assured and more confident.
We can do it by being kind to ourselves and to others.
We can do it by forgiving (I prefer to use the term releasing) ourselves and others from guilt and shame.
We can achieve it by being non-judgmental and open minded.
We can do it by being cheerful and positive.
We get there by reflecting upon our actions, thoughts and deeds over a period of time, analyzing them and understanding them.
We can build upon the characteristics that we like and we can choose to let go of the beliefs that no longer serve us. We will know who we are at the core.
When we live in a mindful way with thought and care and when we let go of the negative things from our past that we believed were at our core, then we can find peace, ease and ultimately happiness.
Ask yourself: What’s holding me back?
What price would you put on finding the confidence to live the life that you want and not one that is expected of you? Or maybe a better question would be…what’s holding you back? There are many reasons why you might be stuck in a rut or wondering how things could ever be different, but […]
My silent retreat at Vipassana Malaysia
I survived ten days in a silent retreat! I survived ten days with no talking, no communication of any kind and no gestures or body language towards others (apart from the teacher on a couple of occasions), but to be honest, no talking was actually the easiest part. I had been thinking about signing up […]
There’s a lot of information out there about dealing with abuse. You can get support in online forums, Facebook Groups or via the Freedom Programme in the UK, whilst many groups at local and national level offer advice. As you would expect, many books have also been written about this huge topic over the years. […]
Characteristics of a manipulative person
Is a bully a narcissist? […]
How to get your life together
In this article I am going to explain a process that you can use to get back on track when you feel that your life is running out of control or is taking you in a different direction to the one that you had hoped. It’s also useful when you feel stuck in a rut […]
Your life choices: you can change things around
The time will eventually come when you have to let go of the things that are causing you distress if you want to be happy. Or you can continue to allow them to affect every aspect of your life – you have a choice. I wrote that first paragraph while sitting on a rock at […]
Negative effects of divorce on children
I wrote this article in response to some of my readers who wanted to know how to handle their (almost adult) children’s growing hostility. In both cases they attributed the change in character to the breakdown of their relationships and the fact that the other parent had always been manipulating and controlling. I will address […]
Grounding Techniques for Anxiety
Here are some techniques to help you to calm things down before or during an anxiety attack. You can also use them during a panic attack or at any time that you feel your stress levels spiraling out of control. What is anxiety? Anxiety happens when our bodies go into freeze, fight or flight mode […]
Supporting someone recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship
Don’t ever underestimate the impact that somebody else’s previous trauma can have on your relationship with them. Whether it’s a partner, friend or family member we may find ourselves trying to deal with unwanted emotional outbursts. Anger and withdrawal are just two behaviours that might occur unexpectedly when they are triggered by something and these […]