Every situation has a silver lining – discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.
August 20, 2021 · 7 min read
Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you. - George R.R. Martin
Have you ever been just sitting down and thinking that after all these years you don’t know who you are and you don’t recognize yourself?
Sense of self is the most important thing that a human can possess. The identity, morality, intellect and everything else is within your heart. That is something that no one can copy, not even the mirror.
Sense of self starts from your childhood and partially ends at the present. I’ve mentioned partially, because we don’t stop living and we continue our lives into the future.
Although we are all very different, but you might feel that you are empty and lifeless. You might think that you have no personality, or you might just be overwhelmed by yourself by all the different traits you have. You might even have existential crisis.
A lot of thoughts and planning have gone into this piece of writing. It’s going to cover everything you must know about yourself and it will help you to find who you truly are.
Sense of self is a psychological state that defines your identity: your moral principles, temperament, intellect and other personality traits that are acquired throughout the life.
Your external looks – body, face, hair is just as it sounds – external. It is quite impossible to truly understand how person acts and thinks within one’s mind without knowing him very, very well.
I can already tell you that no one else than you know yourself best, even if you think that you don’t by now. It can be frightening, disappointing and you might feel many other feelings.
However, hang in with me and let’s dig down to find yourself by unrevealing what contributes to your sense of self.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. - Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
Sense of self is important because it’s something what identifies you. If you don’t know your traits and you feel lost, you won’t be able to focus on your life goals and aspirations.
If you try to impersonate someone else, in the end you will hurt yourself and return to square zero. Trying to become someone else is not psychologically healthy and it is also not sustainable.
If you bring the best of yourself, everyone will adore you. But first, you have to identify yourself.
Sense of self consists of your whole psychological life experience. Every action and experience, especially the ones that have been stuck in your head as far as you can remember, have an impact on your sense of self.
The memories that really hit you straight into your heart have a lot of impact on who you are today. Your losses, your winnings, your empathy to others and so on.
However, the biggest contributor is your childhood. A child is like a sponge – absorbs almost everything. That includes feelings, emotions, words, acts, expressions and many other intangible things. The biggest influencers are your environment: family and friends from kindergarten.
Yet, childhood ends one day and adolescence begins (from age 10 and ends at 19). Adolescence is a period of time where a person is sort of rebellious and a lot of personality traits come from there.
Finally, the adulthood (from age 20-21) – when a person is fully developed physically and intellectually and very little ever changes.
Let’s dive even deeper and get straight to the point in finding out your self-identity.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Mahatma Gandhi
To find yourself you will have to analyze yourself starting from childhood and ending by the present. You start losing yourself when you live on the autopilot.
If you are still in adolescence stage, that’s okay. Analyze yourself till you get to the present moment.
At the end, I will give you my personal example how I developed my personality and who I am today.
Let’s start from the beginning – the childhood, which you can learn from a lot.
Generally, preoperational children (from age 2-7) have high self-esteem. They start unlocking all kinds of achievements and goals.
Children with simple temperaments have more patience and are more likely to succeed in goals. Children with difficult temperaments act oppositely and get frustrated very quickly.
Now, this background is very important, because I’m sure you remember some parts of your childhood, at least something around ages 6-7. You approximately should have a sense on how confident you were, what you liked and what you didn’t.
These are your fundamentals of your self-identity and how your sense of self transformed into something else.
Also, take a look at your environment in your childhood: family and friends.
How did your family and friends act? Do you feel like you “inherited” some of their traits?
Did your family tell you how smart you were, or perhaps the opposite? How did it make you feel?
Perhaps you’ve become shy and with low self-esteem since then? Or maybe you’ve become confident and passionate about your goals?
Did your parents abuse you? Did you get bullied in school? Perhaps you were the bully?
Were you a daydreamer and didn’t pay attention to classes? Were you over-achiever and wanted more and more tasks?
Try to remember as many memorable details as you can from your childhood. This will help you to reveal your identity when analyzing further.
Adolescents at this stage experience a significant number of social and emotional changes. The reason is because they get involved more deeply into social interaction with other people: classmates, teachers.
The interaction is not as shallow as it used to be in childhood.
Adolescents start discussing more about emotions with their closest friends and family. They are interested in that, since they didn’t have such experience in childhood, nor they were interested in this life area.
Also, adolescents begin setting long-time goals and start thinking about the future. This is very important, because depending on how serious they are about the future, their personality can change drastically.
But it’s also important to keep in mind that in some scenarios personality wouldn’t change at all, so take it with a grain of salt.
From this adolescence section I want you to think how you started thinking, feeling, acting based on your life goals and other life-changing moments.
Here are some checkpoint questions where you can start from.
Did you feel overwhelmed thinking of future? Were you lost and not knowing what to do?
Did you know already what life path (specialization, job, passion) you want to take? How were your friends treating you?
Where and how did you spend most of your time? Did you have a traumatizing event?
How much did you change (from emotional and temperament point of view) from your childhood by the end of adolescence?
During the adolescence period, adolescents can usually only dream about their future. The difference between adolescence and adulthood is that adults make their visions reality if they are successful enough.
This is very important stage of life, because adults try to find their place in the world. We have to make a lot of important decisions that can have a big impact for the rest of our lives on how we will live.
These changes and decisions have an impact on our psychological and emotional development.
One of those changes can be relationships and finding your significant other. It’s not a rare occasion when some people are forced to change their behavior and emotional sensitivity in order to adapt to their lover.
Some people, especially men, can be hard as rocks regarding their emotions and feelings. Because of that, it’s not a rarity when they are forced to soften and open up more to their girlfriend or wife.
Regardless, most changes in adulthood come from relationships with significant other and financial related things.
Therefore, I want you to ask to think again about the changes that you have seen and experienced in your adulthood.
What we know matters but who we are matters more. - Brené Brown
Here are more checkpoint questions that can get you on the right path.
How are you now different psychologically and emotionally from adolescence? What made you undergo and make these changes? Do you feel happier than adolescence or unhappier? What makes you feel so?
Have you gone through life-changing events, such as changing living locations, getting into a relationship? What is your current situation with friends and family?
Do you have any addictions that make you feel unusual and lost?
Are you financially established in life? How does it make you feel? Do you feel like you have achieved just as much as your peers?
Now, this is something that very small amount of bloggers would share, but as an original author of this article, I’m willing to share my experience. I hope this story is going to be valuable and let you get a better insight how to find yourself.
I’ll give you an example from my very personal experience. Then, we will connect the dots.
Until age 5 I was fairly confident child. My most traumatizing event begins when I was hit by my father with a belt. The hit was so hard, that I still remember to this day. At that moment, I lost the passion for love, but I still loved my dad a bit, even though he showed very little interest in me.
Needless to say our relationship was poor. As a result of many events, my parents divorced when I was 8 years old. That was the worst moment of my childhood.
Besides, I was bullied because I was a little bit chubby and I was getting in fights at school as a result. I crumbled and I began having extremely low self-esteem. I was a sensitive kid.
As an outcome of that, I spent less time with friends and more in front of the computer playing video games. It was my calmness fortress where I could forget all my existing problems.
One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else. - K.L. Toth
In the adolescence, I kept my doors shut to almost everyone. This was the result of low self-esteem and not to get hurt due of my sensitivity. I had only a few friends, I spent a lot of time in front of the computer.
Because of that, my social skills were poor and I didn’t like to talk to people at all. Thus, I hated school. Nevertheless, I was still in top 5 students out of 30, so my grades were fairly good, just like from elementary school to high school.
At about 16 years of age, I lost all my weight and I became a normal person from a weight point of view. My self-esteem got way bigger and I started speaking to people and open up. I spent more time studying and thinking about future goals. I wanted to be a doctor.
Just before graduating, I got into my first ever relationship with my classmate. I was in love with her, we really had a great time together, but for certain reasons it didn’t work out. Nevertheless, my life brightened up and my self-esteem got even bigger.
It is also important to mention that throughout the years my father kept on showing up every few months. I liked him, but I could never forgive for what pain he gave me. I felt like I didn’t have a proper role model of a father (but it’s better to have nothing than a bad role model).
In the adulthood, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a doctor, so I figured out that a chemical engineer path is good enough. It is paid well and besides it’s an engineering degree. I should be able to find a job, right?
So, 4 years have passed and I found love of my life. She is the most generous and compassionate person I know. My life became significantly better from that moment.
Just before graduating I also found a job but I wasn’t satisfied with my role, nor I was satisfied working for anyone who tells me what to do.
Yet, I tried again in a different job in a different workplace. This was a more challenging work, but the bureaucracy of corporation, endless meetings, having a manager over my head just wasn’t for me. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and have my own business. I quit the job.
Now, I am whole different person. I know who I am and have a proper self-identity.
You can do the same with your skills, hobbies, passions, relationships or whatever else where you feel like having no sense of self.
Now, when you have connected all the dots, you can have a better sense of self who you were and who you are now. It is really beneficial to write a story of yourself and then summarize it in a table. Doing everything in your mind is great too, but having a visual conception is even better.
It is important to understand that if you feel unfulfilled even after connecting the dots, it’s still okay. In that scenario, you should explore yourself in different areas of life and find who you are passionate about.
However, don’t try to become anyone else. Don’t try impersonating someone by force, because nor it is maintainable, nor you will be happy about it. Instead, try to change something within yourself.
If you are not satisfied with your job, then change it. Analyze yourself and find what works best for you.
If you feel like you are lacking skillsets, then make a strategic plan how to improve yourself. Just be aware and don’t have in mind something along like “I want to learn how to do make-up” and then mindlessly going through Internet.
Instead, focus on basics, then work on the techniques and other little details that are important. You have to be very precise about what you want. This works for every area of life.
Find out what your values are.
Find out what your goals are within one year and 5 years.
Find out your weaknesses and strengths.
Everything helps in a journey of having a better self-identity sense. If you really try improve yourself, you will finally understand yourself.
Identity was partly heritage, partly upbringing, but mostly the choices you make in life. - Patricia Briggs
Here I am going to present you 5 quick tips on what you can do to learn about yourself further.
Understanding yourself well is important. When you have no sense of self, you might be not sure what your life goals are. In other words, you lose your self-identity.
Take my story as an example how to cope with this problem. Tackle with it bit by bit and soon enough you will be able to understand yourself.
Make sure to be precise and find out in what life area you can’t identify yourself: financials, mental, psychological and so on.
Finding sense of self is not a big deal if you know the right tools to cope with the problem.
Believe in yourself, because you can defeat all the obstacles in your way with the right positive mindset.