Creating a new identity is essential for getting from where you are to where you want to go. However, adopting a “new you” is difficult if you feel as if you’ve lost your identity. While it might seem like that void would be a great one to fill, you have to find yourself before you can recreate yourself.
It’s common to feel as if you’ve “lost yourself.” I have heard friends, clients, and even myself say those words.
Know this: You haven’t lost yourself. You are still there…inside. You simply feel challenged to see or feel that old version of you because you chose to hide the old identity with a new one. You probably don’t remember doing that, though.
Your Many Identities
Some of us choose new identities many times in the course of our lives. It’s often necessary to do so if you want to achieve your goals. You need to be the type of person who can do the things required to get the desired result. That goes for getting a raise, keeping your marriage alive, becoming a parent, or getting in shape.
However, the feeling of losing yourself means you’ve not consciously chosen an identity that helps you achieve your potential. Instead, at one or more times in your life, you’ve unconsciously chosen a new identity misaligned with your core identity, the one that expresses your soul.
That’s why you feel like you’ve lost yourself.
How You Lost Yourself
Your core identity is the one with which you came into the world. It’s the “real” you. When you get too far removed from that self, you lose sight of your essence and unique gifts. You can’t feel or hear your soul. You stop feeling like yourself.
Relationships, society, bosses, experiences, and so many other things impact how you express yourself in the world—and if you feel safe doing so. All humans possess a strong need to be liked, loved, and accepted. Therefore, we will do just about anything to have this need met—including changing how we show up.
Review your life and notice how you have changed and at what points you developed a new identity. You may have consciously chosen to change your identity in many positive ways. But as you’ve gone through life, you’ve also unconsciously covered up your core identity in ways likely you now regret.
At your core, though, you are still the same person.
The Grand Identity Cover-Up
I call this “The Grand Cover-Up.”
You don’t feel safe being you, so you cover up your core identity and, instead act in ways that get you liked, loved, and accepted. You develop a new persona that helps you move through the world feeling safe.
As long as the real you is covered up, you continue feeling safe. The more layers you add, though, the harder it becomes for your core identity to express itself. In the end, it lives quietly under all those layers—neither seen nor heard.
That’s when you hear yourself saying, “I lost myself. I don’t feel like me anymore.”
Your Identity Choices
The members of the Inspired Creator Community have often heard me talk about who they are being. It’s essential to consciously adopt the identity of who you want to be. When you do so, you can take the actions necessary to create what you want.
However, success comes when you choose a new identity aligned with your core identity and helps you achieve your potential. It can be challenging to step into a new identity and achieve success if that identity is misaligned in any way.
Plus, you may not know what you want to create when you are out of touch with your core identity. Without goals or dreams, you have no way to understand what identity will help you most. That’s when you can unknowingly create a misaligned identity.
Stop Rejecting Yourself
Covering up is a way of rejecting yourself. You deem who and how you are as unacceptable, unloveable, and unlikeable in some way. And so you change, so no one sees the real you.
To consciously decide who you want to be going forward—what identity will most serve you—you must first embrace your core identity. You didn’t love yourself enough to be authentic and show up in the world authentically in the past.
Spend some time re-acquainting yourself with your core identity. Recall what you loved, what made you unique, and your early aspirations. Consider what traits or behaviors you disliked—or that others judged. Then, embrace all of you…even the parts you thought needed to be hidden away.
Once you have accepted your core identity, you can choose a new one that serves you going forward. This new identity embraces your core identity and builds on it in positive ways. It’s you 2.0…or 3.0 or 4.0.
This new identity in no way covers up your core identity. It pushes it to the forefront while adding new behaviors or mindsets that help you realize your potential and achieve your goals.
If, for example, you want to become an author, you can embrace your core identity, which has always loved words and being of service.
What would an author do? Write daily. Submit written work to publishers. Build an audience on social media platforms. The new you, therefore, builds on your core identity by doing these things. By being an author.
How I Lost Myself
I write this post from a place of deep knowing as well as personal experience. For the last few years, I’ve been trying to uncover myself. I had hidden away some integral parts, like the writer and spiritual seeker. But I’d also covered up many other parts of myself, which left me feeling like someone else entirely.
I kept wondering why writing felt hard. “It should be easy. That’s who I am…a writer.”
And I’d ask myself why I felt so spiritually disconnected. “That’s who I am,” I’d remind myself. “I’m a spiritual being having a human experience.”
I started exploring my past to what happened. I remembered times as far back as elementary school when I covered myself up. And then there were teachers, bosses, and clients, not to mention relationships, that made me feel the need to cover up even more.
I specifically remember when my husband (then boyfriend) asked me to pick up his children from preschool. I felt the need to be somebody different from who I was, not a mother or parent. And when the kids came to live with us, I fully stepped into the identity of a parent because I wanted to make the relationship work. So, I became the person I thought I needed to be to remain married and loved. That seemed to require that the real me be hidden away.
When my husband stopped walking a spiritual path with me, I, too, stepped off the path—again to make the marriage work. I covered up the spiritual side of myself.
I had a critical literary agent for many years. I know he wanted the best for me, but he would negate my ideas and wishes and chastise me. So I the confident, creative part of me went into hiding, and I struggled to write…if I wrote at all.
After we moved to California, I felt pressured to earn more money to help with family finances. So I built a business around my books. I became an entrepreneur rather than a writer.
Uncovering Your Core Identity
Uncovering the core identity that lies within is like peeling back layer upon layer of Saran Wrap. Each layer was applied in an attempt to get along, feel safe, be accepted, be loved, and succeed.
How do you do remove all those layers? I can only share what I’ve been doing and continue to do.
In August, I created the Inspired Creator Community. I felt this program was a way for me to step into my core identity—the seeker and writer. I quickly realized that, like my members, I needed a personal and spiritual growth program.
So, I enrolled in Jim Fortin’s Transformational Coaching Program. In that program, I completed three months of intense work on myself and then enrolled in his year-long program.
I also purchased five hypnosis sessions. That time was spent reconnecting with and healing the rejected parts of myself. I also reprogrammed my mind in ways that would help moving forward.
These actions have helped me remove some of the layers. But there are more to go… So I continue working on this in Jim’s program and in a second program I joined recently. I also read books, getting coached, and use self-hypnosis daily.
I continually explore my past, looking for the moments when I chose to cover myself up. I ask myself, “Who was I? Who am I? Who do I want to be?”
7 Ways to Find Yourself
Besides enrolling in a personal and spiritual growth program, here are a few other things I’ve found helpful.
1. Journal—Write about who you used to be, what you liked about yourself, what you miss, and how you would like to show up. You can also explore what parts of yourself you didn’t like or that got judged. Or describe your core identity.
2. Meditate—Set the intention to see images of your core identity and the times when you covered up that identity. Or just sit quietly and get re-acquainted with yourself.
3. Hypnosis—Either hire a hypnotist or learn self-hypnosis. You can then retrain your subconscious mind, so it is easier to be your core identity again and choose an identity that serves your goals.
4. Year-by-Year Review—Review every year of your life. For example, who were you when you were seven? What happened that year that caused you to change just a little bit? Who were you when you were 15? What caused you to change then?
5. List—Make a list of the things you used to love or feel passionate about. Think back to when you were a child or in your early teens or 20s. What did you enjoy doing? What were your interests? What do you think were your unique gifts and character traits? What was inherent to who you were?
6. Take action—Do the things you used to enjoy. Express the character traits that made you unique. Use your gifts.
7. Love yourself—Love yourself enough to allow time to re-explore and rediscover yourself. Start peeling away the layers of who you’ve become. Stop rejecting parts of yourself and embrace them instead. Be who you were and reassure him or her that it is safe to express authentically.
Identity is a Process
While your core identity is still you…in you, it can take time to uncover yourself. As you begin little by little to feel the authenticity of being you again, you will start to recognize yourself. You will be you.
Stand in that authenticity. Relish it. Love yourself enough to be yourself—fully, proudly, and courageously.
Then, look at your dreams and aspirations—those you had as a child and those you have now. Who do you need to become to achieve those things? Maybe you are already all you need to be…but you might need an identity boost to help you achieve your goals.
In any case, commit to the process. Refuse to cover up the real you. Love yourself enough to show up fully and enhance your identity as need be. Build onto your core identity so you can achieve your highest potential.
Do you feel as if you’ve lost yourself…or found yourself? Tell me in a comment below. And share this post with someone you know who feels lost.