When we are small children we don’t know any better than to be who we are. We laugh when something is funny, cry immediately when we are upset, and try to do things we are not good at without too much concern. However, over time we learn what gets us the attention we want as well as what doesn’t. We gradually do more and more of what gets us love, or at least some sort of recognition.
A healthy family welcomes our expressions of who we are and helps us to develop and express our own unique personality successfully. We are encouraged in those tasks for which we show aptitude, and are dealt with patiently when we attempt things we don’t do well. Our expressions of affection are welcomed and returned, and our ideas and feelings are considered important.
However, when that doesn’t happen we typically walk away from who we really are and adopt behaviors that are “not us” to get the best results we can from others, even when those results are minimal. As a result we don’t show affection if it is not welcomed, we don’t speak about our own true thoughts and feelings, and we do try out for football or to be a cheerleader when we don’t want to. We contort, restrain, and hurt ourselves to please others. We do so in order to survive socially and emotionally, if not physically as in the case of physical abuse.
As a result our self esteem-suffers. We’re not sure who we are or how we want to behave, and we’re not sure that those who profess to love us know us well enough to actually have that love.
What have we done?
As we have walked away from ourselves in childhood in order to survive we have lost ourselves and our way. Like Hansel and Gretel we are lost in the forest.
I have two suggested thoughts that may help you:
1) There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything wrong with who you are. Of course, we all fail at times–including plenty of moral failures–but who you really are as a personality and being is, and always has been, loveable.
2) Don’t assume that you know who you are. Be willing to explore a little. Consider whether you may actually have the traits you envy in others, and that you have interests and abilities that you have never developed.
During your lifetime you will never discover all the facets of your personality. There is always more about you to unwrap. Yes, there is plenty of you to go around. In terms of your personality and your gifts you are all you need to be. It is true.