"I Don't Know Who I Am Anymore!" 3 Powerful Ways to Reconnect with the Authentic You
Sometimes you don't realize it until you're at the crux of transition:
● A close loved one dies
● A long-term relationship shatters
● You lose a long-standing job
● Your children move out and leave you with an empty nest.
Sometimes, the events that cause you to realize it can be more subtle:
● As you’re waking up at 4AM for the umpteenth time, for a job you hate
● As you’re listening to yet another verbal bashing from a significant other
● As you find yourself acting out-of-character in an argument once again, with
someone you have a strained relationship with
● Or as you look at your kids and realize all the goals you’ve sacrificed for them
You can finally put into words that feeling you have been experiencing the past few days,
weeks, months, years:
“I feel like I’ve lost myself.”
No matter the reason you may have found yourself here--feeling as if you have lost all or
parts of yourself--there are some powerful practices you can employ today, to help you
reconnect with the authentic you.
POWERFUL WAY #1 TO RECONNECT WITH THE AUTHENTIC YOU:
Get Really, Really Real, About How You Feel
We naturally find ways to not deal with the things in our life that are uncomfortable to face.
Maybe you are not happy on your job, but you don’t want to acknowledge it for fear of
seeming ungrateful. Maybe you are unwilling to admit just how bad a particular situation in
your life has gotten. Or maybe you are avoiding looking into a certain matter, because you
don’t want to face the difficult facts just yet. These are common (and even natural) defense
mechanisms that we all use in order to cope with the weightier issues we are not yet ready
or willing to face. Take a look at a few of these common defense mechanisms and see how they may be at play in your life:
The refusal to acknowledge the existence or severity of unpleasant external realities or
internal thoughts and feelings.
An imaginary thought or image, or a set of images, that provides a pleasurable experience
for an individual, or as a means of visualizing other possibilities.
Painful, frightening, or threatening emotions, memories, impulses or drives that are
consciously pushed or "stuffed" inside. It's the act of stopping yourself from thinking or
The exclusion of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings from the conscious mind. Often involving sexual or aggressive urges or painful childhood memories, these unwanted
mental contents are pushed into the unconscious mind. Repression is thought to give rise
to anxiety and to neurotic symptoms. (britannica.com )
This defense reduces anxiety or pressure by transferring feelings toward one person to
another -- commonly known as "dumping on" someone...e.g., man is mad his boss and kicks the cat when he gets home, or blows up and yells at his family.
Subconscious justifications, excuses or reasonings given to make a behavior seem logical --
"A student fails the final he didn't study for and says... "I couldn't have passed it anyway -
that teacher has it in for me." Rationalization is included at the beginning of any list of
defense mechanisms because it's so frequently recognized as "being defensive".
While it's reasonable behavior to put off facing “reality” (for a while) it becomes
problematic when facing "it" causes anxiety, depression, anger, or other forms of neurosis.
Instead of burying the reality and the condition of how things really are, face it.
PUT INTO PRACTICE:
Sit down, and think through your life: How are your finances, really?
How is your spiritual life, really?
How are your intimate relationships, really?
What’s really missing?
How do you really feel about it?
Vent about it. Cry about it. Yell about it. Just let it out. Now is not the time to figure out the
solution. It’s just the time to face it. Challenging yourself to face the hidden parts of yourself can help you to rediscover & reconnect with the authentic you.
POWERFUL WAY #2 TO RECONNECT WITH THE AUTHENTIC YOU:
Examine in your life, people or situations that cause you to feel like you are being
disempowered and depressed.
We are created to express that which has been placed on the inside of us--our thoughts,
ideas, creativity and talents. From a spiritual perspective, we are created to express the
likeness of God inside each of us. Relationships and situations that hinder (or that we
perceive to hinder) our expression, cause us to feel a type of depression (a putting down of one's spirits).
"A lack of expression causes depression."
Let me give you an example: If being at your job feels like a slow death everyday, it is likely because you are doing work that does not allow you to express your innate talents and gifts in a meaningful way. If you are in a difficult or abusive and controlling relationship, you are likely unable to express the thoughts, ideas, and totality of who you are. If you failed to finish high school or obtain your degree as desired, you may feel like you failed to express your fullest potential in that area of your life. A failure to express yourself in a fulfilling way, robs you of that which makes you, you, and can leave you feeling lost.
PUT INTO PRACTICE:
● Identify those people or situations that disempower you or cause you to feel
● Examine where you are failing to express yourself (your talents, your potential, your
opinion, your perspective, etc.) and how it is affecting you.
● Develop a plan to express & reconnect with those disconnected parts of yourself.
POWERFUL WAY #3 TO RECONNECT WITH THE AUTHENTIC YOU:
Develop healthy boundaries around (social) media.
(Social) media is an incredible tool to help you stay connected to reality. But it can also be a distraction from your own reality. We often tend to tune into (social) media for to long,
looking at the wrong things, for the wrong reasons--all while being completely unaware of
how our subconscious mind is processing all the images & data we have seen. One client
told me that after watching a marathon of her favorite women’s reality television show, she
found herself binge shopping online, in an attempt to fulfill her repressed desire to feel
beautiful and important. Another woman I counseled said that she reconnected with an
abusive boyfriend after weeks of looking at profiles on social media of "happily married
friends". After this relationship with her on-again/off-again boyfriend dissolved again, she
was able to discover the influence weeks worth of couple viewing, had on her emotions.
PUT INTO PRACTICE
● Set healthy boundaries around (social) media usage.
● Guard what you allow yourself to see.
● Flesh out how you feel about what you saw after your session of after television
shows. Work through those emotions with a realistic perspective.
● Do a (social) media detox regularly.
Whether you are in the midst of transition, crisis, or just a time of renewal, employ these
practices to reconnect with YOU.
Jessica Cooper, MSW, LCSW
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