White light sign with black letters reading "This is Who I am"
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Sharing – How to Develop a Strong Sense of Self

I agree with much of the advice Leo gives below, but this is the part I want to talk more about because this describes the struggle I had to a tee:

It’s best to develop your sense of self when you’re alone — even if you’re in a relationship, or have lots of family or friends around you, spend some time alone each day to practice knowing yourself.

One of the struggles that I had as an abuse survivor, and one that I know other survivors have talked about, is defining who we are. Take everyone else away, remove all the ways we define ourselves based on our relationships with others – son, daughter, spouse, brother, sister, parent, coworker, friend, employee, boss, etc.

Who are you? As I often say, when you’re too busy trying to survive the chaos of an abusive childhood, you don’t get the guidance that would help figure this out. So we exist in these relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, and we don’t know who we are outside of how they see us.

I suspect that many survivors go in two directions on this. Some never like to be alone. They only feel like they exist based on how others react to them. Growing up, I fell into the other camp; I only wanted to be alone because I didn’t understand how to fit in with other people and what my role was. The solution to my situation was the same: figuring out who I was.

Who am I?

What do I want to be?

How do I define a good life? Being a good person?

When I had answers to these questions, it became easier to fit in with the people around me because I knew where I ended, and they began. I was a full person outside of the relationship with them, and they were a full person outside of the relationship with me. Once you get to that point, relationships become much easier. They’re still hard work, but it’s not that work on top of being dependent on the relationship to define myself.

Read more about discovering a sense of self at the link below, and share some of your best advice for defining who you are.

https://zenhabits.net/strong-sense-of-self/

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