If I were to ask, who are you? What would you say? Most people respond by saying their name or profession. What I’m asking though is something more fundamental than that. I’m asking what are the unique qualities you possess that make up the core of who you are. For many adult survivors of childhood trauma or abuse, this can be a very difficult question to answer, mainly due to growing up with a distorted sense of self. I have 3 tips to help you start to discover your unique qualities, the information required to know what makes up the essence that is you.
1. Know your values: My post The A – Z guide of secret messages is a comprehensive list of values that will help you determine what’s important to you. Randomly choose which values are most important to you without thinking too much about it. Then narrow the list down to your own personal top ten chart toppers that will help you discover the primary values which determine what makes you tick. Knowing your values helps you make big decisions, guide your relationships and your personal conduct. When you are in alignment with your values, you’re being true to yourself and to those around you.
2. Ask someone you know about yourself: Asking someone you trust about the strengths and weaknesses you have increases your sense of self-awareness and helps you discover what kind of impact you have on others. When you’re having a chat you can ask ”how do you think I reacted to ….?” or ”when I said….do you think I was assertive or pushy?” You can start to introduce these types of questions as part of the way you communicate to start to gain a picture of who you are.
3. Fictional you: Do you have a favourite character in a book, play, movie or TV show that you can relate too? There may be parts of that character that you can see in yourself which can be quite revealing. Spend a little time thinking about what exactly it is that you identify with so that you’re able to pin down the precise nature of what you relate to.
Why is this important?
When we are growing up, we’re influenced by those around us who affect how we see ourselves. The position of these people in our lives will determine how influential they will be in how we develop our sense of self. If you believe those around you think highly of you, there will be a positive image of yourself reflected back to you. However if you believe those around you who don’t think much about you at all, a negative image of yourself will be reflected back to you.
This is an important aspect to consider for those on the path of recovery from childhood trauma and abuse. Growing up believing that trauma and abuse as a child is your fault, distorts how you see yourself which in turn has an impact on your self-esteem and self-awareness. Knowing how you’ve made sense of how you’ve been treated and the beliefs you’ve developed about yourself, increases your ability to combat internal messages that can hold you back from being who you truly are and having the life you want.
We’re always being told who we are
Who you believe yourself to be is constantly being reflected back to you. It is an experience you will have throughout your lifetime. When we are children, it is our parents, siblings and teachers who are our biggest influencers. As we age, our circle increases to include friends, partners and work mates. The messages we receive can be dependant on the type of people who are around us. You can have people around you who either exhaust you or energise you.
Exhausted or Energised?
I have found that there are people who pick, pick, pick at you. Finding your every little fault and weakness, never praising anything good that you do. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? It’s like your life force is sucked right out of you when you’re around them. Then there are those people who are kind, encouraging, and who highlight your strengths. I find that these people energise me, always encouraging me to be better, do better, leaving me to feel good about myself after I’m with them. So that leaves us with some choices that are well worth considering.
Who do you want to be around?
So, now that you know that people can exhaust or energise you, who would you prefer to be around? I hope you saying you would like to be energised! If you are around people who are constantly reflecting your faults back to you, how are you going to feel about yourself? Pretty rotten I would expect. This means your self-esteem and self-confidence would be low, and the image you have about yourself would be distorted. Being around people who support you and energise you, increases your self-esteem and self-confidence, and helps you gain a clearer picture of who you are as it is reflected back to you.
Who do you want to be?
If while reading this post you’ve realised that perhaps you can be the one to pick at others, or are quick to criticise those around you, ask yourself if you would like to continue being the person people you want to run away from or want to be the person people want to be around? Do you want to energise or exhaust people?
Being around people who exhaust you
The reality is that there will always be people around us who have the ability to exhaust and challenge us. We’re either related to, live with, grew up with, or work with them. We need to be mindful that we are not responsible for other people, we are only responsible for ourselves. Knowing who we are in the face of criticism helps us cope when negative messages are flung our way. This means that it can be necessary to limit our time around exhausting people so you can have time to re-energise and recall all the goods qualities you have.
- Knowing what you value, how other people see you, and which fictional character you relate to gives you clues of who you are.
- Who you are is constantly being reflected back to you by the way people treat you.
- This means it’s important to be around people who energise you, not exhaust you.
- These people will act as a buffer against hard times when you’re feeling low or disappointed.
- Decide if you want to energise those around you, looking for people’s strengths, encourage them, be kind.
- Limit your time around people who exhaust you.
What do you think? Have you got any tips about how to know more about yourself so you can energise those around you as well as yourself? Write you comments below, I look forward to reading them.