A common concern that I have heard from women over the years is this idea of no longer recognizing yourself. You may feel as if there is another person who has taken over and made choices that the old you would have never made. Let’s explore some reasons why you may have chosen the other side of the fork in the road.
Some Reasons for Self-Estrangement
Transitions. When you and your role change in areas like career, family, and community, this can cause you to have to go in directions that you had not foreseen. For example, if you have a child with ADHD, you may have to take on a more directive style, which may be in contrast to your desire to be an easygoing person.
Trauma and Loss. When you go through a traumatic experience (such as a worldwide pandemic or a divorce) or experience a loss, this can cause us to engage in certain methods of coping, self-protection, and adaptation in order to be able to move forward. These changes, although seen as necessary in the moment, sometimes stop serving us in the future and can result in an internal disconnect.
Society. At certain points in your life, you may find yourself feeling pulled to conform to expectations from your community. Even a small change, such as switching from a colorful wardrobe to one that is all neutral tones, can have a big impact on how we see ourselves and present to the world.
Mental Health. When you go through depressive or anxious bouts, not only does this impact our perception of the world, but it can impact our perception of ourselves. That self-judgment and self-doubt can escalate and cause us to no longer recognize ourselves.
Reconnecting With Your True Self
The first step in reconnecting with your true self is to take stock of what your true self actually is at this point. This requires honesty, awareness, and mindfulness. Although many of the changes you’ve undergone are not aligned with how you used to see yourself, it may be that you need a more flexible self-concept. We are dynamic creatures that continually evolve.
Secondly, take an inventory of what is actually important to you. The Finding Your North Star worksheet I use with coaching clients helps to differentiate between the things that are important to you (without question), the things that are important to you (but you wish they weren’t), and the things that are supposed to be important to you (but aren’t). When we can reset our compass, this helps us to re-establish our guiding principles.
Finally, it is necessary to approach yourself with curiosity and compassion, rather than judgment and demands. You chose that side of the fork in the road a while ago, so getting back to it isn’t instantaneous. And remember that you may realize that you don’t actually need to go that far back in order to find yourself again!