We are born knowing who we are, what we want and need, and what we feel. We are born knowing we have a right to exist. We are born with the understanding that we matter.
Then, through experiences and interactions, through pain and trauma, both big and small, we become rewired, we lose touch with our inherent worthiness, we lose sight of our Identity.
Identity is received when we receive the message that we matter, that we have value, that we are important and good enough. Identity is lost when we receive the message that we do not matter, that we do not have value, that we are not important, that we are not good enough.
Losing and receiving Identity is a visceral experience. We feel it in our bellies, our chests and our throats. Losing Identity feels uncomfortable, yucky, painful even. Receiving Identity feels more like warmth, peace, a deep breath.
By the time we are adults, many of us no longer believe we are inherently worthy, no longer believe we deserve to exist, to take up space, to have a voice, no longer know who we are.
If you find yourself in that place, not really sure who you are, what you feel, what you want or need, questioning your worthiness and your right to exist, here are a few things to try to begin mending your Identity and stepping back into the truth and fullness of who you are:
- Find just one person who will be in your corner. Ask that person to be in your corner, to hear you, regard you, make space for you, and help you remember who you are and that you have value. (Ask them to do a Foundations webinar with you if they haven’t! That is a great place from which to build this type of connection.)
- Listen to your body. If you feel a sensation in your body, this is a sign that something important is happening. Sensations tell us what is needed. Sensations may indicate a need for food, water, sleep, movement, safety, connection, or expression. Listen to your sensations. Regard and respect them. Learn how to understand them so you can meet the need they are trying to convey. Getting our needs met is a human right and the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our people.
- Close your eyes and try to remember the last time you felt completely held and completely free, a time you felt safe and brave, peaceful and alive. That is you, at your core, unencumbered by the world’s noise and expectations. That is the you we want to cultivate. Get acquainted with that you. Give that you some regular time and attention. Talk to that you. Listen to that you. Spend time doing things that bring that you back to consciousness.
- Make a list of things you enjoyed before you became a spouse or parent or boss or employee. Give yourself permission (or borrow mine as long as you need it!) to spend a little time with those things every week. Even an hour a week of doing something we love can change our whole week. Joy is a human right. Do the things you enjoy.
- Speak up for yourself. For many of us this will be the hardest thing we ever do. If someone is unkind to you, you are allowed to move away from them. If you feel disregarded, say so. If you have a feeling or a need, say it out loud then meet that need. You have a right to exist. Speak up, speak up, speak up.
Bolstering our Identity is transformative work. Reconnecting with our inherent worthiness and our core self takes intentionality, courage, time and attention. It is what is needed for our individual and collective healing. It is not easy. But it is worth it.