As a counselor, I lead a small group on Wednesday’s. In the group we discuss codependent behaviors and ways of processing and healing from our past. Recently, our topic of discussion focused around identity, or rather our lack of understanding regarding our identity.
As a fellow codependent and work-in-progress people pleaser, I relate a lot to the women in my small group. However, I always enjoy hearing their perspectives and what they can bring to the people. We all have such different paths in life – paths that, although they are different, can lead us to the same point. And that’s how I feel about mine and their stories.
Our discussion prompted me to think of why we may lose our sense of identity. So, with that said, here is a list of three reasons why you may not fully know who you are.
You do not feel “good enough”.
If I’m being transparent, this is a huge one that has led me to a path of codependency and people pleasing. When we feel that we are not good enough as we are, we often find ourselves putting on different masks with certain people. For example, you may be bubbly and outgoing with one friend, but more angry and rebellious with another. When we find ourselves behaving in this manner, it can sometimes stem from the feeling that we are not good enough to show up as who we truly are.
One of the most dangerous results from this behavior is that we lose a sense of who we are. We place so many different masks on that the lines begin to blur. Are we bubbly? Are we rebellious? Are we a mix of both? The answer: We don’t know. We completely lose sight of ourselves because we have become a chameleon and formed our identity around the identity of others.
Your Childhood Involved Heavy Focus On A Primary Persons Needs
When we grow up in a household with a family who has one or more emotionally needy people, we often begin to lose our sense of identity. Why? Because we must remain focused on the needs and feelings of the primary person so often that we cannot have focus on our own needs. In a sense, we push ourselves into the corner so that the primary person can take center stage.
It is important to help people. If someone we love is suffering emotionally, we want to be there to aid them. However, it begins to take a more destructive turn when we find that we are not able to pour into ourselves at all due to the needs of another person.
This behavior often shows up in families where alcoholism or drug addiction takes place, although this is not the only situations in which the behavior may occur.
You May Be (Or Have Been) In An Unhealthy Or Codependent Relationship
When we think of an unhealthy relationship, a few things may come to our minds: Controlling, loss of independence, loss of decision-making, etc. If we find ourselves in a relationship where behaviors like this are occurring, not only do we begin to lose these parts of ourselves, but we may also begin to find that we are loosing confidence in ourselves. Maybe you have found yourself in a relationship where when you try to make a decision, your partner ridicules you or there is a negative consequence for the decision. If this is occurring, it would naturally make you feel more indecisive and less confident in being able to make an adequate decision.
When we lose confidence in ourselves, we also may find that we begin to lose more of our sense of identity. After all, if you are not confident in what you are doing or who you are, what do you become? What do you do?
Outside of an unhealthy abusive or manipulative relationship, we may find ourselves in a codependent relationship. In these types of relationships, we are often seeking to aid to the needs of our partner and attempt to “rescue” them. By engaging in this behavior, we stop focusing on ourselves and place all of our energy on helping the other person. In addition, we may even change things about ourselves that the other person does not feel pleasing. And in this way, we begin to put on one of those masks mentioned under the first heading. We may begin to alter who we are to please our partner, and by altering ourselves, we lose ourselves.