How To Be Myself When I Don’t Know Who I Am? How To Move Forward If You're Thinking, "I Don't Know Who I Am."

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated March 23, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

I Don't Know Who I Am?

Have you ever noticed that certain people tend to take on the persona of whomever they are with at any given moment, much like a chameleon that changes color to blend into its environment? Notice how their gestures, inflections, word usage, and perhaps even their opinions change, causing you to wonder who they are. Maybe noticing these people has motivated you to reflect on whether know who you are and consistently act like yourself. Do you catch yourself thinking, "I don't even know who I am"?

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Social Pressure to Conform Takes Us Away from Being Ourselves

From the time we were little, we were taught and trained to know about social norms and expectations. We all have choices to make within those social norms. For many people, to know and conform to the expectations of society has caused them to blur the lines between what society expects from them and truly being themselves. This social pressure is only exacerbated by the rise of technology and social media platforms in our everyday lives.

The Connection Between Happiness and Being Yourself

Not being happy with yourself is often the first indicator that you are not acting like your true self because people are happiest when they stay true to who they are. The temptation to act contrary to who you are comes from fear-based thinking. It may be fear of rejection or exclusion or the fear of failure. The result is that your emotions take over your reactions, regardless of what you truly believe about yourself, which causes you to stray further and further from the person you truly are.

Small Children Can Teach You About How to Be Yourself

Have you ever wondered why watching small children play brings a smile to your face? It's because they live and play carefree and in the moment. Society hasn't influenced them to be anything other than their true selves. They are encouraged to act out what is in their head, to let their imagination run wild, and to enjoy what they love.

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If you feel like breaking out in a song or dance like a child, just do it, and see how good it feels!

Learning How to Know Who I Am in Word, Thought, and Action

Be Aware of Negative Thinking

Scan your thoughts to determine if the vast majority of them are negative or positive. Having mostly negative thoughts means that you aren't happy and that you don't feel like yourself. Make a conscious effort to spend some time dwelling on the positive things that you are thankful for.

Separate Yourself From External Influences And Be Present

If you could be doing anything right now with your family, life, friends, or career, what would you be doing? Your finances may not be able to make everything a possibility right now, but there may be some changes that you can make right away. Once you take a few steps in the right direction, notice how much happier it makes you.

Identify Your Core Values And Align Your Mind With Them

The process of exploring your core beliefs can be a tricky one. Sometimes, we have spent so much time and effort trying to measure up to someone else's standards that we mistakenly believe we have the same core beliefs as they do. What you might find out- on your own or in therapy- is that you follow another person's beliefs because you want them to love you and not because you believe them yourself.

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Space and Support for Your Identity: Learning How to Be Yourself

The process of exploring your core beliefs can be a tricky one. Sometimes, we have spent so much time and effort trying to measure up to someone else's standards that we mistakenly believe we have the same core beliefs as they do. What you might find out in therapy is that you follow the other person's beliefs because you want them to love you, and not because you believe them to be true.

Your therapist might challenge your beliefs about yourself and the world around you so that you can determine whether they serve you well. They might ask you if you believe as you say you do, why do you act differently? The conversation is one of give-and-take so that you always have the chance to explain your behaviors and the therapist can offer their support and guidance through this difficult and often emotional process.

Dealing with the Emotions Surrounding the Thinking

As you come to know more about how you developed your core beliefs, you might uncover past disappointments, childhood confusion, or even severe traumas. Your counselor will work with you to understand what happened in the past, to accept your feelings about it, and move confidently into the present.

If you're hiding your real self to put someone else's beliefs first, you might find that you've resented it for a long time without even realizing it. Also, you may find it emotionally challenging to set aside those standards and adhere to your own.

When you begin following your own beliefs, you may be able to have a better relationship with others. You are then coming from a place of strength rather than a place of self-sacrifice. The more in tune you are with your true self, the stronger you become. You gain confidence, your self-esteem skyrockets, and you no longer worry about being different from others. In fact, you come to value the things that set you apart from the crowd. Understanding and treasuring your uniqueness allows you to embrace your own identity and become more genuinely you.

Seize the Day

The more you know about who you are, the easier it is to take advantages of opportunities best suited to your nature. If a new jobs opens up, consider your immediate reaction to this opportunity. Does it excite you or does it sounds promising because it would please someone else? When you meet people, you can decide more easily whether you are considering getting to know them better to please a parent or because you want to nourish that relationship for your own satisfaction. Every day brings new chances to increase your fulfillment. When you know who you are and what you want out of life, deciding whether to take those chances becomes much easier.

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Sharing the Real You with Others

Once you have tried to rediscover yourself, you will eventually have to share the real you with those in your life. This can be intimidating, especially if you've never allowed yourself to be authentic in relationships and social situations. It puts you in a more vulnerable place, and it exposes your innermost being to the possibility of criticism. It's one thing to be rejected for a persona you've created to please others; it's another to be pushed aside because someone doesn't like the real you.

Taking those first steps towards authenticity can be frightening, embarrassing, and uncertain. You've never shown the genuine you before. You don't know how people will react. They may feel awkward when you make changes because they realize something's different and they don't know how to react. Your friends may be startled by your new attitude, but acquaintances are usually the most shocked at new behaviors. They may have categorized you so thoroughly that when you begin to act like yourself, it shakes up their worldview. You want to surround yourself with people who appreciate you for yourself- the you that you hid behind your mask. The time you spend with like-minded people becomes valuable to you. At the same time, to know yourself as you do, you can also appreciate the unique individuals that surround you and make up your social world. Sharing the real you, opens you up to more authentic, meaningful, and healthy relationships.

If you're still struggling to find your core beliefs or aligning your life experiences to match them, one of the online therapists at BetterHelp can guide you and help you learn to be your best self. Genuine happiness is possible, with the right tools. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"David supported me in becoming aware of my strengths and being the best version of myself. He helped me in a period of my life in which I was literally stuck and my negative beliefs were holding me back from being myself and shine."



"I started working with Jeana a few weeks ago mainly because I am trying to really step out and learn who I am without the influence of my family and others. She has been so very helpful in guiding me through this process and helping me manage those emotions that will pop up while trying to dig through life."

I Don't Know Who I Am?

If you have lost touch with yourself, it doesn't mean this will last forever. There are many things you can try, including therapy, to help you regain touch with yourself. Living an authentic life, with fulfilling relationships and people who accept and love you for you, is possible only by learning who you truly are. Take the first step.


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