Are you trying to find yourself?
That was my goal for this year. I spent all of last year struggling with my health, and I knew I needed to change. On top of those challenges, I was becoming lost in my struggles.
Have you ever had that happen to you? Maybe you’re experiencing that now. You struggle with relationships, or health, or work, and you forget who you really are.
“It is one thing to lose people you love. It is another to lose yourself. That is a greater loss.” ― Donna Goddard, Waldmeer
I wanted to share some super helpful tips for rediscovering you when it seems like a lost cause. I hope they inspire you to appreciate yourself a little more.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
Who are you?
I’m someone who lives with bipolar disorder, fatigue, and anxiety. Do you see how it’s kind of easy to get swallowed up by that? It becomes your identity. It becomes everything about who you are.
You begin to live every day with each symptom acting as a stepping stone to the next. They become how you keep time, living one panic attack at a time. One freak out at a time. You lose awareness of the hour of the day, and the day of the week.
Thoughts of your illness consume you. Instead of feeding your soul, you feed your disease. You give it what it wants so that you can have a moment’s peace, without stopping to think about what it is you truly need.
Is this really benefiting you? Is making your mental health issue your identity serving you in any way?
Sometimes mental health labels bring us comfort. It helps us make sense of the things we’re going through. But they aren’t who we are, and we are doing ourselves a disservice if we forget that.
Getting past an identity process is possible
It really is possible to figure out who you are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Not only is it possible, but it’s absolutely critical. It’s the best action step we can take for becoming stable and productive and happy again.
How do you do it?
Check out these key pieces of advice for figuring out who the heck you even are anymore. They’ve helped me, and they can help you too.
Start a journal
The best place to start is to adopt the daily habit of writing in a journal. (internal link) If you think you will forget, set a reminder on your phone. That’s what I do, because I tend to be scatter-brained with things like that. (Thanks, depression!)
Not sure what to write about? You can start as simple as you want. Here is how I got started again with journaling, and it only takes about 5 minutes a day.
Every night, I end the day by writing 3 things I am grateful for. I try to think a bit deeper than “I’m grateful for food and oxygen.” Obviously. I shoot for something more along the lines of “Today, I’m grateful that my husband stepped up and took the kids for a bit so I could rest.” Being as specific as possible really helps you connect with yourself and your gratitude.
Then, I write down an intention for the following day. Something like, “Tomorrow, I will work hard to be playful with my kids, and enjoy the chaos.”
Finally, I jot down a couple positive affirmations. These can be about anything that you might need to hear. If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of positive affirmations (internal link), check out this linked blog post.
If you want to really get creative, here is a free PDF that you can use to get your brain cranking.
Get started with a gratitude journal here: Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal
Look back at old photos
I think taking a trip down memory lane can have really positive benefits for you. You can reminisce about times when you felt happier and more positive. You can see moments in time when you were surrounded by laughter and unburdened by depression and anxiety?
Why is this a good idea?
I think this can help for a few reasons. First of all, I’m not a doctor, but I’m sure looking at these images release some feel good chemicals in our brain when we look at them. It can also serve as a reminder that we’ve done it before. We’ve been well. We’ve laughed. Smiled. Hugged. Kissed. And if we’ve done it before, we can do it again. It no longer seems impossible, because we see it right in front of us.
Ask a loved one
This is another really great step toward figuring our who you are: Ask for feedback! Talk to someone who really truly loves you- whether it be a spouse, parent, sibling, or even your child- and ask them the following questions:
- What am I really good at?
- What do you like the best about me?
- Is there anything I could stand to work on?
- What memory of us makes you the happiest?
I guarantee their responses will make you feel more centered and at peace. They might even bring a smile to your face! And you do not have to “believe them” right away. These things take time. But if you write them down and reference them often, they will feel truer over time.
Work on your negative thinking
Negative thought patterns tend to plague those of use who live with depression and anxiety, and they need to be corrected. If not, you are doomed to a life of feeling sorry for yourself, and not loving who you are. It’s not an easy task, but the concept is simple. Learn to challenge negative thoughts with positive ones, and sift through the garbage in your mind.
How are you supposed to find your identity if all you do is sit and think about what a shitty person you are? How are you ever supposed to find “the real you”?
This book really helped me deal with some of my negative thinking, so check it out here: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)
Who are you really?
Who are you on the inside? Are you a depressed shell of a person? Or does something else sit below the surface?
Are you empathetic? Kind? Smart? Good at technology? Crafty? A pop culture expert? A good spouse? Awesome at baking?
Tell me all about you in the comments below (positive qualities only!) And please, share this post if you found it helpful.