Having an identity and sense of self is a crucial component to how we see ourselves and the choices we make in life. When we can identify what matters to us and what comes from others, we can live a more authentic life. When you lack this knowledge, it can be difficult to understand what you really want and even have you standing still, struggling to make any choices in life. According to our sources, you can check in with yourself by answering the following questions:
'Do I say yes to make others happy?'
'What are my strengths?'
'What brings me happiness and meaning?'
'What are my values, and do I live accordingly?'
'Do my choices reflect my own interests or that of other people?'
For someone who doesn't have a strong sense of self, it may be hard to answer these kind of questions --which is quite normal. There are a couple of things that influence your identity including individuation or the development of who you are without judgment (such as in childhood), your attachment style, and desire to belong. If these are developed in unhealthy ways, you may struggle with understanding who you truly are. This can cause you to feel unfulfilled and stuck in life, but there are, however, ways you can go about building your identity.
IDENTIFYING YOUR BELIEFS AND VALUES
What we value and believe make up a great deal of who we are. It is said to help us recognize what matters most to us and where we stand on major issues. Whether you value the protection of animal rights or have a longing to see justice being served, what you care about helps you set boundaries and make choices in life that are truest to you. For instance, you wouldn't want to maintain a relationship with someone who is rude and deceptive if you value honesty and kindness. Though it may be hard to identify all your values at once, it's something we encourage you to think about throughout your day.
DECIDE FOR YOURSELF
We often make decisions considering what others may think of us, and sometimes that means we neglect ourselves. When making decisions, you should consider what will benefit your health and wellness. That doesn't mean you should necessarily neglect the most important people in your life. Take others into consideration, but do not overextend yourself or abandon your own needs for the sake of pleasing others.
The saying goes, "you can't pour from an empty cup".
If you're always making decisions to please someone else, you build a cycle of people-pleasing -- which can be uncomfortable and difficult to break. If you are prone to deciding based on other people's wants and needs, you can take baby steps towards choosing for yourself, however that looks for you. Once you build this habit, it will become natural to make choices on your own without the inputs of the outside world.
SPEND TIME WITH YOURSELF
You can learn a lot about yourself when you're alone. However, if you're more extroverted, it can be uncomfortable to be apart from others. This time alone doesn't necessarily have to feel like punishment. Find things that interest you like music, movies, and book genres, activities and hobbies you may enjoy. You can use your alone time to see your favorite band play, cook your favorite meal, or volunteer at your favorite charity. Whatever you decide, do so for your own enjoyment and fulfillment in life.
YOUR IDEAL SELF
Once you develop a strong sense of who you are, consider ways you can work to achieve your ideals. Accepting who you truly are is a great first step. However, if you're not improving yourself, it could negatively impact your emotional health. There's always work to be done and improvements to be made. Ask yourself what else you can do to improve your life or what changes you need to make in your social and professional relationships.
Though we are not perfect, we should strive to live a life where we're content with who we are and how we're presented to others, all the while making the necessary improvements we need along the way. However, if you feel stuck and are experiencing emotional distress, we encourage you to seek a mental health professional as your condition could be more serious.
Source: Healthline & Ellis Jones