“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” ~Albert Einstein
I woke up one morning and realized that I had no idea who I was. I realized that over the past thirty-something years I had been everyone but myself.
I was like a chameleon molding into the people that surrounded me. Not wanting to make noise or cause disturbance to others or trigger my own inner wounds.
My goal was being whoever I thought the person around me wanted me to be. To be accepted, loved, and liked by others. I realize now that I was searching for something external to validate what I needed to give myself. I needed to learn who I was. I needed to like, love, and get to know myself.
Once you discover that you do not like yourself and that you don’t even know who you are or what you like, change starts to happen. You start to identify areas where you were using people and things to fill a void that only you can fill. Alcohol to numb the pain, sex to feel less alone, to feel valuable. Helping others and fixing external problems so you don’t have to look at yourself.
I had no clue this is what I was doing. Honestly, I thought I just wanted to help people. Turns out I was projecting externally what I needed to be doing internally. We tend to do this without any awareness. If you find yourself constantly nurturing or encouraging other people but, on the inside, you feel alone, sad, or wondering if this is all life has to offer, you may be doing this as well.
Pay attention to what you constantly give to others. It’s likely that that is what you need to give yourself. Pay attention to what you say to others because you likely need to say that to yourself.
The journey to discovering myself has been a long one. It has been a fun one and a difficult one. I have explored different activities and hobbies—reflecting back on activities that I enjoyed as a child and bringing those back into my life; trying new things that I have always been curious about or wanted to try. I have kept the ones that bring me joy and peace and eliminated the ones that lower my energy.
I have also done this with people, jobs, and my own thoughts. The voices in my head have been the most challenging to discard. But after years of consistently working with them, my inner dialogue is finally much nicer.
Yes, the criticism does still arrive, but I see it for what it is and get curious about it. I ask if what my negative inner voice says is true. Ninety-nine percent of the time it is not. I see what it is trying to teach me.
I often will ask myself: Who said that to you and when? Oddly enough, my thirty-year-old self’s belief system was one I built as a kid, when I concluded that I wasn’t good enough and I was only valuable when I had something to give someone. It’s really funny when you realize you are an adult body caring around beliefs you developed as a child, with zero awareness.
I also had to take the time to reflect on how my actions and thoughts were playing a role in my life. I had to make the decision to basically do the opposite of what I had been doing to get different results.
For example, instead of waiting for the people around me to start respecting and prioritizing me, I had to start respecting and prioritizing myself. I had to identify my wants, honor my needs, and set boundaries in relationships.
Instead of sleeping in, I had to start getting up early before my son so we could have a pleasant morning versus running out the door. I had to nurture myself at the beginning of the day before the world had a chance to pull at me.
Instead of holding my truth in, I had to muster up the courage to speak it. To share my feelings, rock the boat if I had to, and trust I wasn’t “being crazy.”
Instead of tiptoeing around everyone and trying to please them, I had to understand that this is not even possible.
Instead of hating myself, I had to start loving myself.
Instead of being closed off, I had to open my heart—to myself, others, and the world.
Instead of remaining stuck, I had to start taking baby steps to discover who I am and who I want to be. Like spending time in silence in nature so I could hear my inner voice, making art, saying positive words to myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth, and meditating for just three minutes a day.
Before I started doing the opposite of what I had been doing, I had no clue that life could be fun. I am here to tell you that life really can be fun, you’re not alone, and by taking one small step you can begin to transform your life into something you didn’t even know was possible for yourself.
It does take courage, compassion, consistency, and commitment, but if you start today, when you look back in a few years you will not even recognize yourself or your life.
If you start to believe bigger than your beliefs about yourself and this world, magic will start to happen.