There is a lot of talk today about finding yourself and being true to yourself.
But what if you have dissociative identity disorder and have spent your entire life hating who you are? What then? How on earth do you change the attitude that you hold stating you are worthless and shouldn’t have been born?
This article is going to tackle the beauty of self-discovery and how to end those potent negative messages that can flood the mind of a survivor of childhood trauma.
What is Self-Discovery?
We’ve all heard of the myriad number of books on finding yourself and making your own way in the world. Their central premise is that you can discover in yourself the power to move forward and have a fruitful life.
These books and other media types market a wonderful pretense, that one can go within to discover who we are and where we wish to go with our lives. The process of self-discovery is where you are guided by asking yourself deep questions and self-examination your thoughts, actions, and words to reach conclusions about who you truly are as a person.
Being a survivor of childhood trauma, especially if you have developed dissociative identity disorder (DID) can make self-discovery seem terrifying. What skeletons will you uncover on the road to self-knowledge? What memories lurk below the layers of forgotten events?
However, I can tell you that self-discovery for me has uplifted me to a point where I love who I am and myself more than many people ever will. I also know more about myself and my motivations than most people who have not done self-discovery ever will.
The First Step Toward Self-Discovery
Have you ever wondered exactly what it is you want from your life? This questioning is the first step to self-discovery. You might begin to ask what kind of goals I would like to reach in my life or what is it you want from life.
Examining your dreams, values, talents, and your other characteristics and abilities can lead you down the path to acknowledging who you are today and who you would like to be tomorrow.
You can ask just a few questions to find out what it is you want to know about yourself and then proceed to answer them. These questions may include:
Why do I do the things that I do?
What drives me to do the things that I do?
What is my life missing?
What impact do the choices I have made have on the life I want in the future?
Answer them as truthfully as you can, perhaps writing them in a journal, and you will have begun self-discovery.
The Two Roads to Self-Discovery
There are two roads to self-discovery.
One is to do it on your own and ask yourself the important questions while dealing with any negativity that may arise. There are many pros and cons to doing it this way including the pro of keeping any negative self-discoveries to yourself and the con of stuffing those findings away where they can do harm.
The other is to seek out a mental health professional and enlist their help in looking inside of yourself to discover who you are and your motives. The obvious con is that someone else will know the negative things you found about yourself during your self-discovery. The pro is that sharing your journey of self-discovery will make facing any negative things you discover about yourself and having help in expressing how you feel about them.
Self-discovery may sound like a huge intimidating idea, but it is a process of examining your life, finding the missing pieces, and taking steps toward a life of fulfillment.
Some Stages of Self-Discovery
There are several stages involved in self-discovery but I’m going to touch on just three. They include visualization, exploring your passions, and identifying what you like about yourself. Each depends on who you are and what you want out of your life.
Visualization. By seeing in your mind’s eye the future you wish for yourself, you can form a plan to meet those goals. Remember, no matter where you begin, not to be too hard on yourself for not having the forethought to visualize your future before. There need not be any self-judgment in self-discovery.
What do I want for my life?
Where do I see myself in 5 years?
What do I regret and how can I change that?
What am I proud of in my life?
Visualize and dream big because you are capable of many things that can improve your life situation. Only believe in yourself.
Exploring Your Passions and Following Them. Having passions makes life purposeful and full of meaning. Remember, passions don’t need to always be complex or relate to your work.
Perhaps you are interested in becoming a famous musician, but your current job doesn’t allow you to fulfill that dream. Search for ways to fulfill that need. Perhaps you will never be rich and famous as a musician (few people are), but you can play in bands or start a band of your own to play in small venues. If you are very lucky you can quit your job and work on becoming a musician but be realistic with your dreams. You might change your job to evenings freeing you up to fulfill your musician’s passion.
Identifying What You Like About Yourself. Who you are and acknowledging what you like about yourself is crucial to self-discovery. Your personal values, qualities, and how you view yourself tell you a great deal about who you are as a person. These characteristics also outline the life you want to live as well as the behaviors you can expect from other people.
These values may include:
You are honest
You are compassionate
You are loyal
You are creative
You are intelligent
There are tons more values that one can discover about yourself and clarifying them to yourself can help you discover who you are and what it is that other people like about you. This part of self-discovery is your chance to learn your positive traits, and this helps to silence the bitter inner critic that has always held you back.
Ending Negative Messages
Ending the negative messages your inner critic whispers to you from your shoulder is crucial to taking the new information you have learned about yourself and applying them.
The dialogue you have within yourself will either enhance your success or prevent you from being all you wish to be. These inner conversations are powerful and silencing them can be a challenge. However, if you want to overcome the obstacles you have stacked against yourself and your future, silencing the inner critic is vital.
The thoughts your inner critic might be expressing to you could be:
“If I try to do anything different, I’ll fail.”
“I’m never going to get that job.”
“I’m not likable so I’ll stay to myself.”
All three example statements listed above are extremely negative, self-limiting, and may become self-fulfilling prophecies that are self-destructive.
There are steps you can take to quiet the negativity.
The first step to overcoming negative thinking patterns is to become aware of them. Once you have become aware of the negative and sometimes hateful things you say to yourself you will want to change them.
Second, end the ruminations. Stop worrying and brooding over a mistake you made or a bad day and concentrate on the fact that we are all fallible and have days we’d like to hide.
Third, you need to examine the evidence that either supports or negates your negative thought pattern. Learn to recognize when your critical thoughts are negative and exaggerated. For instance, if you think you are stuck in a dead-end job and will never escape, examine the evidence. There are many employments that are not forward moving. If you are in one, begin planning how to change your position.
Fourth, replace critical thoughts with accurate statements. Change pessimistic thinking with a rational and realistic thought such as, “I can return to school and get a college degree that will allow me to work in the job I’m passionate about.”
Finally, accept yourself with all your flaws and positive traits. There is no one just like you in the entire universe and that makes you valuable and special. Your flaws are what make you endearing, and your positive traits are what can propel you forward to a more fulfilling future.
Ending My Time With You
We all have been caught up in the maze of negative thinking that has altered our behaviors. This problem has been greatly magnified if you are someone living with DID. However, there is hope.
By examining your motivations, thoughts, and behaviors you can discover all you need to know to change your life forever.
I understand well the turmoil that can come from self-discovery, but I have also reaped the benefits. I am a writer which has been my passion since I was in the third grade. I recognize my flaws, but I also acknowledge my talents and positive traits. I used the therapy road to self-discovery, but whichever road you decide to travel down I hope you reach for the stars.
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” C. JoyBell C.
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” Lewis Carroll