Finding yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard this catch phrase before. But what exactly does it mean? Certainly, it implies that most of us don’t know ourselves very well. And it also implies that the self we think we know is not our truest self. This poses an interesting question. If we’re not who we think we are, then who are we? And how do we go about finding our authentic self?
Most us have been conditioned to look in all the wrong places for the answers to the questions posed above. As a result, we get a distored view of ourselves and our self-worth. We often appraise ourselves by the messages we get from others and the world around us. We judge how we’re stacking up among our peers. And we gauge our love-worthiness by how many show interest in us. In short, the world trains us to look outward for validation and approval. And sadly, this is inevitably a recipe for disaster. Sure, things can seem great when we’ve scored big, or get mounds of attention and praise. But things can fall apart in a hurry when we feel ignored, disparaged, or betrayed, etc.
Our sense of self and self-worth can never rightly depend on anyone or anything. Most of the time, that only indicates unhealthy emotional dependency. Now, there are exceptions to be sure. Certain narcissists neither care about the opinions and reactions of others or allow those things to sway them. These grandiose types are “legends in their own minds.” (see: pp. 85-94 in Character Disturbance.) Folks who do care, however can sometimes care too much about what others think. This, of course, is unhealthy, too.
You can’t love yourself without first knowing yourself. In fact, you can’t genuinely love anyone you don’t really know. And just as you can’t really know someone unless you’ve spent quality intimate time with them, you can’t know yourself without dedicating time to look within.
Life and love are all about relationship. And these days, too many relationships lack quality and growth potential. Some relationships are purely exploitative. Others are a matter of convenience. Some are predicated solely on need. And sadly, a few are rooted in pure fantasy and wishful thinking. Genuinely loving relationships are intimate encounters rooted in pure positive regard. They don’t just bring you something that feels good. They are inherently. And that includes the relationship we have with ourselves. If you can’t commit to understanding and treating yourself properly, you won’t have the wisdom to do so with another.
Learning to properly love has a lot to do with changing your focus. The world trains us to look outward. But all the answers to our deepest yearnings lie inside. Spirit-crushing experiences can give us a “sneak peak” of who we really are and what we really desire. Stripped of ego and broken in spirit, we can get a glimpse of our core. But it’s too easy to loose sight. And it’s too easy to back to our old externally-focused ways when we’re back on our feet again. That’s why sages throughout the ages have urged us to set aside contemplation time. Mindfulness is the key to self-awareness.
This week’s Character Matters podcast continues this discussion. And I’ll have more to say about these topics next week and on the upcoming podcast, too.
5 thoughts on “Finding Yourself and Your Self-Worth Too”
Any book recommendations for this process? Some of us have lost our way as far as identity, I know I have. Coming from an alcoholic home and marrying a narcissist left me hardly aware a self existed. I don’t want to be overly self-focused but I don’t want to be looking outward for my ok-ness. People pleasing is a self-defeating behavior and yet as a Christian we are told to look out for the welfare of others above our own and I think that message somehow gets misunderstood in application.
I’m sure there are books out there on the subject. I think for me, it had to be learning to find my way through the steps (and there is a 12 step organization for about every bad habit, and for the bad habits of others). I had to learn to own what is mine. I got to know myself that way. Then learn to like myself. My narcissistic mother taught me to hate myself. Because it was my fault, right? To question my own reality.
I have had short periods of no contact with my mother. But never for any real length of time (a year being the longest). Hard to learn to like yourself, to accept yourself when the source of all the hurt and anger is still around you, sometimes on a daily basis. But that contact had become, as I now realize, like a drug. Even when faced with all the negative consequences of the substance abuse, you continue doing it. They convince you that you need them (narcs).
Time helps to heal. A look inward doesn’t hurt-because then you can see the parts of yourself that draw others to you. That’s what you hang onto. They say time heals all wounds. I’m not sure it heals. Scars remain to tell your story. But time, it really does help.
I’m not familiar with any books on this. Have a similar background. What’s been working for me is setting time aside for myself and prioritizing getting to know myself (this was very new for me). Meditating, soaking in the tub, thinking about what I like, need, want, etc…Then acting on those preferences and asserting them more and more in my interactions with others. Over time it became a habit and now I do it mostly automatically (unless I’m with someone I feel insecure around – them I have to work at it). I also talk to myself the way I talk to others – kind, reassuring.
Hope that’s helpful.
I really feel your pain and loss. Many times I have to stand outside of myself, I have to take pity on that little girl who was cheated out of many things many take for granted. I have to take that little girl by the hand and love her, guide her and let her know its OK.
This is not an easy task by any means, but at my worst times it has been a life raft for that lost child and me.
I have many books and I am thinking I can look for something that may help. I believe though, this blog is a gift for you and you have found a small family of individuals who understand and accept You. It’s also important to make peace with that inner child within you that has been so abused.
Most importantly, above all, you have a relationship with your Creator, something that is lost in this world. I feel, WE, in this day and age are relics left over from a time past and have difficulty fitting in and many times will blame ourselves for this. Instead, WE need to accept who we are as the Remanent God speaks about and put all our trust in HIM.
To me, you are a wonderful and kind person who has shared themselves with others to make this a better world.
Long ago one of my Dr’s gave me this book and thought it would help me inward growth and healing. It’s an excellent book but at the same time a sad story. In the meantime I will think of others. At this time I am reading JOB, yes, I am having a Job moment.
The book: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Also, in these last days the craziness can be very difficult to deal with.
Hugs and Blessings