I lost mine when I became a parent. It was not a slow, sneaky process, but a big giant "whammy!!" in-my-face event. One moment I was me, with all my likes and dislikes, interests and freedom and the next...in a whoosh, my identity got sucked into a vicious vortex; a black hole of shock. Of course, that was part of having PPMD, but the kind of loss of identity I am referring to is a loss of identity due to lack of healthy self-worth or personal value.
Picture CREDIT http://moes-art.deviantart.com/art/Lost-Identity-257132132
Definition: Self worth is the opinion you have about yourself and the value you place on yourself.
The most common loss of identity occurs in relationships with your significant other; in my opinion, we believe it is the most important relationship we seek to attain in life. If you enter into a relationship with an esteem not up to par, you are bound to have it slip even lower without you realizing it, and in that process you lose your identity even further. (Unless you were already actively practicing self-awareness when you entered into the relationship :)) (By the way, the most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves!)
What does losing your identity look like? (Using Relationship as an example)
- It is the feeling that you don't have a life outside of your life with your partner, and in extreme cases believe you will be nothing if your partner ever leaves you.
- It is when your partner's views, opinions and choices become your own.
- It is when you depend on them for validation of your worth.
- You look to your partner to make the decisions regarding your happiness, and end up losing your "voice of choice".
- You can't see yourself as separate from your partner.
The Process of Restoration:
Working on your self-esteem is a challenging endeavor. It is not like completing a puzzle, having tangible pieces in hand to fill in the empty spaces. It is more like playing pin the tail on the donkey or any other blindfolded game; You have to FEEL your way back to yourself.
It takes inner work, a process of self-actualization and awareness that you DO have low self-esteem and DID lose your identity. And, most importantly, it is the awareness that you are not happy and wish to be.
To start, keep a journal and begin writing. This is a start point for self-awareness. Start with basic things like writing down your favorite colour, favorite movie, favorite clothes to wear. What type of person are you? What type of personality do you have? How do you express your sense of humor? What do you think you look like in the eyes of your partner, family and friends? What makes you mad, sad, and laugh till you pee? :)
You may already know all of these things, but the purpose for this exercise is to solidify your place in the world: from a ghost of your former self, to a full and complete shining vision of your true self who is worthy of all the good life has to offer!
The next task is to write down how you see yourself. What do you like about yourself? What don't you like? Are there any dreams and desires you once had that now are in the attic of your mind? Are you a thinker or dreamer, scientist, or artist? Let this journey be fun, like a treasure hunt, finding the gold within yourself.
The last task for now is to write down all of your GOOD qualities. Try to get more than five!
Why? Because you ARE worth it!
Stay tuned for part 2; Books and Tools to Move you Forward to the RE-newed YOU.