How To Rediscover Who You Are
Often when we get older and begin responsibilities like work, marriage and parenting we can start to lose our individual identity. If you are a people pleaser the changes skyrocket. You are so focused on helping everyone else that you slowly forget to focus on yourself. Before you know it, you aren’t sure aside from your daily responsibilities.
How to know if you’re lost
Think about the last time you did something you wanted to do just for you. Maybe it was a night in with a glass of wine and a book or a night out with your girlfriends. Changes are it’s been a while. Or if it was recent it’s not a typical occurrence. Maybe you even felt guilty for how much you enjoyed it.
Do you have trouble making decisions? For me this manifested in all aspects of my life. Deciding what to have for dinner, what I wanted as a career and even what book to read next was an agonizing situation. People would ask my opinion and my mind would go blank. Typically I would just try and figure out what everyone else wanted to make them happy.
How did we get here?
It could have been for a multitude of reasons. I grew up in a household that focused on parents being the be all end all. If you questioned them you were being bad. In addition if you did express wanting something else, it was selfish. I’m not blaming my parents, this was their style. Quite honestly, it’s likely how they were raised as well. Children should be seen not heard. They provided everything I needed growing up and more. It did leave me a little lacking in the self exploration department though.
Even if your parents weren’t the same style, as you grow up you are conditioned to follow directions from authority in school. There isn’t much room to figure out what you want.
Then you go to work and it’s your boss and company telling you what to do. Not following directions will put your livelihood in jeopardy.
Then you likely get married and have a kid or two and maybe a pet. You learn to put yourself on the back burner.
What to do about it?
Well the first step is obviously noticing it! You are already there so congrats. Take a moment, maybe drink a sip of Prosecco and feel good about that. To be honest you are already ahead of the game. Noticing this about yourself will cause you to naturally start noticing what you like and don’t like. To take it a step further, I love taking personality assessments. My favorite is the Myers Briggs. Check out this free version here from 21 Personalities.
Once you have an idea of what makes you tick from a personality perspective it can help you go deeper.
I also love journaling. It helps me to write down what I am thinking and feeling. Sometimes I just need to get it out.
As you are going through this journey, you will probably start to notice some relationships that aren’t serving you. People pleasers often attract one sided relationships or even toxic ones. This could be work relationships, romantic ones or even friends. Once you realize you are being taken advantage of you must begin setting boundaries. If something bothers you, stop doing it. This is going to get you some push-back. It may even cause you to lose some relationships. Realize that if someone gets angry with you for putting up a healthy boundary, you are better off without them.
Dropping toxic relationships opens you up for new fulfilling ones. I’m not going to lie to you here. It sucks. People pleasers generally hate conflict and disappointing people. But you need to remember you are the most important person in your life. You can’t be the best to those you care about if you don’t help yourself.