“I feel like I’ve lost a grip on who I am.” “I don’t know what I even enjoy.” These types of feelings are so common after changes in relationship. Breaking up. Getting married. Becoming a parent. Kids leaving the house. Retiring. All life changes bring changes to how we understand ourselves. We can feel lost and lonely if we do not have a solid grasp on who we are at the core. How can we stay grounded through these huge changes? (I say we because all of us, self included, have to protect our identity…..identity theft is not just about stealing money.)
Check in with yourself. Explore personal preference, fulfillment, and passions. This can include the same desires of others (our partners, family or friends) but should also include things we enjoy on our own. You are the only person who will ALWAYS be with you. You might as well enjoy doing some things with yourself.
Keep healthy boundaries. Set limits and stick to them in, emotionally, physically, financially… You are your own caretaker and responsible for your choices. Responsibility is very different than being guilty. Sometimes things happen to us or in our lives that we are not guilty of/responsible for occurring. But, we are always responsible for our movement or choice beyond the situation. We have the ability to respond and in that, the responsibility to make a choice. This is an ongoing process and not easy for those of us who tend to be people-pleasers. But, this is foundational to maintaining that sense of self throughout the ups and downs that inevitably come. (***please note, I would never say someone who was assaulted was responsible for that offense against them. They become responsible for their own response to that incident. No one can make a choice on how to move forward but them. An individual who has experienced abuse/assault/trauma has already had their will taken from them. I would not dream of taking their will power away further by saying I could somehow control their feelings about the situation. It can be empowering to make a choice after the incident; to take back freedom and life.)
Give yourself some grace. No one is perfect. We are ALL imperfect people living in an imperfect world just trying to move forward. Sometimes that means we bump into others or they bump into us. If we can give ourselves some grace, we can allow the growth that comes from mistakes.
Life is kind of like hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway. There will be some tough steep parts and make you just want to take a break. There will be other areas where you will be moving quickly but needing to watch every step to keep solid footing. And of course, there will be those breath-taking moments where all you can do is sit, still and quiet, soaking in the beauty all around. Climb with purpose. Move with mindfulness. Rest in the rewards of the journey.