‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’: Establishing Your Sense of Self

Lower half of a traveler standing on mountain at sunset looking over mountain valleyAs we grow and develop from children to young adults, we listen and learn from the world and others around us. When others listen to and learn from us, we learn that our needs are valid and that we are valuable. We learn that we are individuals with our own identities and our own ideas and sets of behaviors. When our environment is healthy, we grow into adults with a healthy sense of self. We learn that our opinions and thoughts are important. We know who we are.

Those who do not grow up in a healthy environment—perhaps one scarred by emotional or physical abuse, neglect, or over-parenting—may not develop a sense of self in the same way. Their identities may have been minimally acknowledged, if at all. When feelings and thoughts are ignored in childhood, children may grow up not recognizing that they have their own ideas and sets of behaviors. If children are forced to yield to others’ thoughts, wants, and needs continually over time, the development of their identity may suffer. As they grow into adults, they may question, “Who am I?”

Adults who do not have a solid sense of self at times may rely on the opinions, feelings, and thoughts of others. They may yield to their friends’ sense of fashion, buy a car that is deemed “popular,” or participate in activities they do not truly enjoy. They may allow others to make decisions for them. As this pattern continues, it can leave a person feeling depressed or anxious about choices they make and what their lives have become. They may feel helpless or even hopeless at times. Unfortunately, as this pattern continues, their sense of self may further deteriorate, leaving them feeling less and less connected to themselves.

When we have our own sense of identity, we are better able to make decisions and navigate life with more ease. We are able to include friends and partners in our lives who are emotionally healthy and with whom we can share ourselves in a healthy way. Learning about ourselves and developing a solid sense of identity can help us feel more fulfilled and happy because we are better able to guide our lives to what we desire.

The following tips can help you develop a better sense of who you are and increase self-awareness:

1. Get to Know Yourself

Begin making a list of things about you. This may feel intimidating at first, so start small. For example, make a list of five to seven easy “favorites,” such as your favorite color, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite movie, favorite flower, and favorite food. Create a new list once or twice per week and aim to include five to seven items per list. Make a list of smells you enjoy, such as warm cookies or freshly cut grass. List books you enjoyed reading or would like to read in the future. Make a list of your favorite video games or board games as a child. List states and countries you’d like to visit. Over time, expand and grow your lists to thoughts about political views, hobbies, career choices, and any other items that pique your interest. If you feel stuck, ask friends and family for suggestions about new topics.

Over time, not only will you get to know yourself better and slowly recognize your individuality, but you may begin feeling more confident in your ability to do so.

2. Listen to Your Mind and Body

If you pay attention to them, feelings and physical cues can help you develop awareness of your likes and dislikes.

Your feelings and body can tell you a lot about your thoughts and interests. When you participate in activities such as drawing, sports, or social events, how do you feel? Do you laugh and feel happy? Are you tense or relaxed? During what types of movies do you laugh or cry?

If you pay attention to them, feelings and physical cues can help you develop awareness of your likes and dislikes.

3. Begin Making Decisions

Decision-making is a skill built over time. Like a muscle, this behavior needs to be flexed to develop and stay fit.

When making decisions with friends about the next dinner get-together, be sure to cast your vote about the location and meeting time. Discuss with your partner your opinions about the remodeling of the bathroom. When grocery shopping for the family, don’t forget to pick up food you personally enjoy. Buy that new sweater you want even if you’re not sure anyone else will like it. When your friend or partner asks if you’d like to see the 7:30 or 9:30 show, state a preference instead of deferring. Have a voice and let it be heard.

4. Take Charge

As you begin to develop a sense of your interests, begin planning activities once or twice a week that engage your senses. Call a friend and invite them to participate in an activity you enjoy, or make a date with yourself and plan a fun day. Take a walk in the park, go to the market, see a new movie, sign up for the company softball event, or all of the above.

Most importantly, get out there and have fun doing what you love.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Denise Olesky, MA, NCC, LPC, GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • James

    December 5th, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    I think that there are a lot of parents out there today doing a real disservice to their children by always hovering over them and never fully giving them a chance to learn about who they are. The kids become preoccupied with feeling like they always have to do the right things to appease their parents and pay little attention to the things that they actually like doing themselves.

    What happened to letting our kids learn about who they are and what they enjoy before we impose our own wants on them?

  • tama

    December 8th, 2016 at 11:43 PM

    I think allowing the child to make decisions and then learn there are consequences good or bad is is a healthy way for them to learn there are boundaries they must live within every day of their life…( with supervision of course)

  • Cadence

    December 5th, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    While it can be very liberating it can also be a scary time when you have to start making those adult decisions in life, without always having to answer to someone else or having them looking over your shoulder.

  • TIA

    December 6th, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    There are a lot of battles that I have had to fight internally just coming to terms with being gay and accepting that for myself and being brave enough to tell my family but you know once I admitted the truth to both myself and to them it was like a huge weight has been lifted off of me.

  • anthony

    December 7th, 2016 at 7:42 AM

    The earlier you are able to cultivate this true sense of who you are, then the less likely it is that others will use and abuse you in the future.

  • Jessica

    December 9th, 2016 at 2:31 PM

    Anthony you are so right about that. I could not agree more.

  • Lara

    December 8th, 2016 at 10:36 AM

    I was not able to fully develop a sense of who I was and the things that I love until I took a gap year between high school and college. I had to get a job, I had to pay rent, and really for the first time ever I had to make certain things a priority and other things I had to come to see really were not all that important. It was a good time for me to reflect on life and decide what I wanted to contribute and having that time to work hard and figure that out was what I needed to be a little more introspective.

  • gerald

    December 9th, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    be careful some of the things that you say to your young children. Like it or not they will always remember the worst things that you could say to or around them. These are the things that they are bound to pick up on.

  • Casey

    April 6th, 2017 at 10:14 PM

    “Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell
    Children will listen…”
    –from “Into the Woods”

  • Victoria

    September 12th, 2019 at 11:47 PM

    Even things a simple as swearing. Young kids that grow up with parents that cuss on the regular/drink on the regular, end up thinking its just the normal/ok thing to do and then they get in trouble at school and then get mixed up with the wrong group of kids bc these kids “understand him” and “grew up the same way as him” and then he ends up in jail etc. It’s just so sad how many kids are brought up in families like this and nothing is done about it. And then their life is ruined because of something you (their parents/caregivers/family) could have done better. It makes me sick. But then again, the parents were also probably brought up that way/in the same environment- who really knows, it’s all just so sad.

  • Victoria

    September 12th, 2019 at 11:49 PM


  • Sherrod

    December 13th, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    For me, I am 50 and I am still learning. I don’t think that there has to be this set time when you are like alright I know exactly who I am now. I think that the learning is all a part of life’s journey, and depending on what stage of your life you are in, you will discover new things about yourself that you didn’t know or understand before.
    Honestly I think that that’s a pretty cool thing, to know that you are always on the road to learning more about who you are. The journey and the search doesn’t have to end just because you reach a certain age.

  • Catalina L

    March 22nd, 2017 at 1:49 PM

    In Spanish there is a distinction between “ser” (to be) and “estar” (to be at the moment). This distinction affords a more nuanced analysis of the question “who am I”

  • Victoria

    September 12th, 2019 at 11:57 PM

    I’m pretty sure the meaning of this post is describing people who struggle with knowing who they are right now. Everyone is yearning to be a better version of themselves and hardly anyone actually accomplishes that. So this post is about those people who struggle to know who they are right now, which makes it really difficult to live life (to socially interact with people, just get out of their living space in general, to know what does or does not appease them/where they stand on important social/political issues). We are here to live amongst other people and help each other make sense of the world and life by our experiences/beliefs, and if you don’t know who you are/what you believe, how are you going to do any of that?

  • Gayle

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:03 PM

    I’m 42 and still learning who I am, still fighting the impostor syndrome, still surviving (thriving and healing) from PTSD and dissociation, still trying to find a purpose and place in this world, still temporarily disabled, but still gritty as heck! I’ve never let my “favorites” and “dreams” go; I’ve always embraced them, even if I’m socially shy or anxious and keep my favorites and dreams to myself. The world becomes a scary place when you’re re-triggered, re-traumatized, or reminded of the stuff your parents did or did not do during childhood. However, to meet the good people (not the gaslighting, manipulative, initially charming but later toxic people) who share your dreams and favorites with you, or appreciate you for your differences and become your cheerleaders for whatever the future may hold. Identity can also be tricky due to cultural and ecological influences that sometimes clash, such as in experiences with discrimination, racism, sexism, and all the other isms that attack your identity, your character, your likes, etc. Hate should not be part of our identity. Curiosity and a growth mindset are better.

  • krissi

    September 28th, 2018 at 12:58 PM

    Thank you, good points. I am 41 and feel the same.

  • Gayle

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:18 PM

    The most painful time for me was discovering that it was okay to be into me and what I liked, that I was not selfish, but rather I had a right to my feelings, dreams, favorites, etc. The most painful time for me was learning that my abusive parents were wrong, which made the betrayal traumas that much more intense. It was as if all these years I had hidden the things most sacred to me from the people who damaged them the most. I couldn’t be. So to understand why I was making excuses for my parents this entire time, taking the blame for them, allowing the identity crisis to become my reality, meant that I had to eventually face the pain of betrayal. As a child, I deserved to be treated as my own person, and I deserved to be loved. I deserved to be allowed to express my favorites and dreams without judgement and fear to the people who were supposed to matter the most – my parents. They weren’t supportive; one was abusive while the other was emotionally neglectful. It’s still a process for me to express my identity, and I’m in my 40s. But there are some great people in the world who do appreciate me for who I am. It seemed to take a lifetime to learn to see the red flags and warning signs in people who are initially charming but toxic in the end. My parents gaslit me, and so all I had known was taking the blame for everything, allowing others’ opinions destroy my identity. Still, I knew somewhere deep inside that what they were doing was wrong. Years later, I finally figured out the term to describe what was going on: not just emotional abuse, but also gaslighting in particular. It became familiar, so it comes as no surprise that I had allowed it in my past relationships. Thankfully, I had left those toxic people and decided to embrace who I am. It took 40 years to do it, and I still have a lot to learn about this, but I’m moving forward. Everyone deserves to have an identity.

  • Aoeife

    April 25th, 2017 at 8:44 AM

    Dear Gayle,
    I was so moved by your comment that I simply had to reply. What you have described is very similar to the way my own parents have treated me. I am in my 30s and I’m struggling really hard to break the chains I was placed under while growing up. There is no easy solution and every single day I try to take it one step at a time. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this and that I deeply believe we all deserve better. May you live in peace with yourself and may you be loved as you deserve.
    Best, Aoeife

  • Gayle

    April 25th, 2017 at 1:34 PM

    Hi Aoeife. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with those experiences, too. However, I’m also very grateful to know that we’re not alone in this struggle toward self-care, self-love, better well-being, and better relationships. I hope that you’re able to live in peace and receive the love that you deserve as well. I believe in the strength of safe and healthy social support, so I also am aware that we cannot fight the good fight toward mental health alone. I believe that it is a misnomer to believe that we must have a requirement to love ourselves first before others can love us; on the contrary, I’ve known many instances where people have loved or appreciated me in the midst of my pain and personal struggles. That said, I also know that I would like to reciprocate that strength back onto others, to be a positive support to people who need care or simply a friend. In any relational transaction where there is balanced reciprocity, it takes understanding and loving who we are in order to set healthy boundaries and find meaningful relationships. But sometimes there are what I like to call “relational philanthropists” in the community (aside from professional therapists) who don’t seek reciprocity, but rather seek to help support people like us who need a shoulder to cry on, a listening (not just hearing) ear, validation, encouragement, reminders about our strengths, etc. While some people may find strength in loving themselves first, I found my strength in both myself and in relationships. The challenge is to find healthy relationships that bring out the strength in you, and perhaps ones in which you can bring out the strength in others. Here’s to our growth in the midst of our struggles!

  • linda

    November 26th, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    Dear Gayle, Thank you sharing you story. I came to this page looking for answers yet again at 43 yrs old because I have no idea who I am. I have lived a crazy life some good but alot bad. I just closed a 9 year chapter in my life that really was never to have been. But due to a man and like most of my life living vicariously through other peoples life so i could feel loved, even when I knew it was not right, I rationalized in my mind that is was, of course, it always ending bitter sweet to very dramatic. I have alot of scars. I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself anymore, my light is gone. I try not to blame my family because at this point I feel I should have gotten a handle on all that happened. My brothers turned out amazing. But the emotional neglect sent me running out of my home at age 14yr and I have been trying to handle myself since. You name it, I have done it, well, not everything. Alcohol still (but working on it), drugs (made it through), abortions because i didn’t feel fit to be a mother and endless depression and suicidal thoughts (to cowardly to try now that I am older). I have tried ever therapy, never taken pharmaceuticals, for some reason they scare me. But, here I am feeling like I hardly accomplised anything in 10 yrs except support myself with a busniess i never wanted to be a part of but draggged it on for years as I slept or ust spent the money in a bottle. Is crazy, beacuse I was an athlete once, I was deep into yoga in my late 20’s. I have dived in some beautiful seas. And just when I seem to recover from a heartache (because I ache for love) or some other stupid drama and start finding bliss, I get sidetracked by someone desire to accept me and I lose track of me. I have done this some many times in my life I have no idea who I am anymore. I cant really point fingers because if its not someone then its me sabatoging my successes in what I puruse. I have the confidence of a tac. I can see moments in my childhood, I have analyzed why my behavior is like this but I cant seem to change my patterns and make them stick. So, here I am, alone, wont even keep a pup or kitty. Officially jobless with the business ending on a loss, of course. Me once again, pushing my newest friends, and finally ending my dive in the bottle there for a about a month. So here I am, 43, disconnected from society, triggered yesterday like a little girl by my mothers negative comment to my newest idea for “whats next”.
    I paid for physics, tarot readers, counselors, medicine men in the jungle, drunk guy at the bar to tell me what I am to do with my life. I have prayed. to sit here crying. It is so bizarre to not have a purpose. To not know what you like to do in your spare time. To not know how to even dress yourself or care to make yourself look nice. I dont even know what kind of music I like anymore. I do know as I look back on my life that I made mistakes that could have changed my world had I choice different. But i have been like this along time and I am a little afraid at this point that I have gone to far and don’t have a chance to find me again. My mind beats me down all day. I am not going to read this over. I am just writing what I feel. I respond to you because earlier. I looked at the site and then step away for some hours. when I looked back on it you letter was right in front of me. It hit me hard, it just broke me open. what to do. I miss my fire. I told my mother off yesterday. 43 going on 12. I am ashamed of myself.

  • Gayle

    November 26th, 2017 at 5:14 PM

    Hi Linda. I am 43 now (same age as you), and I just got notification that you replied. I’m so sorry for all the pain you went through; it’s enough to make us question our own reality, our own place in this world. There’s no shame in what you feel, and relationships with family can sometimes be challenging. The fire you have is still within you; it’s just temporarily resting–at least that is what I’ve told myself (so I do relate). However, no matter what the world tells us, no matter how many failed attempts at treatments and self-help, no matter what has happened to us in our life, the important thing is to remind yourself that you do belong in this world, you do matter, you do have a purpose, and you can create your own meaningful journey. Many times I sought treatment for “advice,” but I later realized that what I really needed treatment for was to learn how to be the author of my own life (my own advice giver), and to simply get clues from other professionals on how to do that. I recently attempted to quit smoking. I was 45 days smoke-free, but then a very traumatic thing had happened in my life. Two weeks later, I began smoking again. I wanted to beat myself up for it, but I told myself that the doctor was right – we may relapse, but we can always get back on the wagon of recovery. It is a lifestyle change, a personal change, an all around bio-psycho-social-and-sociocultural change. It is important for all of us to realize that it isn’t just our emotions we need strengthening, but also our body (bio), mind (cognition/education), and sociocultural (social networks, spirituality/doesn’t have to be religious, and play, for examples) that helps us to identify our strengths and our limitations (I don’t like to call them weaknesses anymore), which in turn helps us to find our purpose. No one can tell us our purpose; even if they did, we’d have a hard time believing them or would disagree with them if their belief in us undermines who we really believe we are. The first step is one that you create toward biopsychosocial-sociocultural health. You can take a small or large step in one or more areas of self-improvement, but the key is to tell yourself (even if you don’t believe it initially) that you matter, that you define you (the world does NOT define you), that you can pick and choose what areas in the world best fit with your purposes (and if you have a hard time finding that, you find ways to invent your own space). Many times people have roles for us–such as gender roles that dictate how females should live – be the reproductive person and have babies, be the sole caregiver of youth, participate in pink-collared jobs. The so-called “feminine” jobs are okay for anyone (male or female or other/non-gendered person), but just because one identifies as a female does not mean that she will be a mother, a caregiver, or a secretary/nurse/etc. (unless that is what she truly wants to be–not for the reasons of the gender-role fulfillment, but rather because that is what she enjoys). My mother is struggling at the age of 83 to find a purpose in her retirement and elderly years. I asked my mother what she likes to do. She said that she enjoys writing about political things and helping my sister’s kids (grandkids). I said, that’s a start to identifying your new purpose in life, based on the mobility limitations she has. I said there are many opportunities to work with editors and others if she wants to publish a book, or there are support groups that include short readings that people contribute to the group and then dialogue about it. I also said that she might find other things from those two things she enjoys to find new purposes. I said it is up to us to find meaning and purpose in our lives, no matter our past or present circumstances. It’s hard when we’ve felt that the world judges us and discriminates, but we have to understand that it is in our human nature (especially as trauma survivors) to detect danger so that we can survive; but what is also in our human nature is to find ways to survive and thrive, such as seeing areas in life that are good, seeking out people and places with like interests, finding things in yourself that you like and feel strong in, etc. I know it is a tough road, but I’ve had to learn the hard way how to survive by seeing ways I can enjoy it individually and with others. To help us find our “self” is a lifelong process for everyone; we constantly go through changes in life that redirect our purpose or encourage us to create a new purpose. Once that encouraging reality sets in, we can stop comparing our lives to others and seeing ourselves as authentic human beings worthy of finding our own unique purposes. We need not be “best” at what we do, but we do need to enjoy it. I hope you can enjoy your new adventures in life, no matter what other stressors there are. It’s not easy, but it can be enjoyable. And don’t ever forget that you do matter! (I hope some of this helps, but feel free to only take what is beneficial to you.)

  • Linda W

    December 12th, 2017 at 12:42 PM

    Thank you Gayle for your reply. It has been hard yet sobering to peel the layers back and my life and get to the source of who I am. Even sittIng here having a cup of tea instead of coffee, which 20yrs ago was my preferred choice, I disliked coffee is a big step for me. Yesterday I spent the day in bed and only drank water. My body finally told me you need a break from everything. Normally I wouldn’t be able to stick to a cleanse if I tried.
    I thank everyone on this forum for speaking out. I feel like a crazy person this world being so lost and emotional paralyzed by it while everyone keeps moving. This forum assures me emotional neglect is real and can affect you for a lifetime. And also can be cured. We need each other’s in our life.
    We need others who can relate and support us through the process. To hear others heartaches and successes is powerful. Thank you to everyone

  • Gayle

    December 12th, 2017 at 5:15 PM

    Thank you, Linda W, for your reply to my reply. I’m glad you were able to make healthy choices, which differed from what you were used to with the caffeine. I’m still trying to cut down on my caffeine intake as well as other food or drink items that contain a high amount of sugars, cholesterol, etc. Things become naturally clear to us after years of life experience, or the experience of new issues such as aging, having children, engaging with a different crowd of people than you’re used to, different jobs or career changes, etc. Sometimes our preferences change naturally, and then sometimes we find out what we really enjoy by experimenting with a lot of cool stuff in the world. We learn that we are very important in the world, and that our own values for ourselves matter. We learn to see the value in others, to detect red flags so as to handle and/or avoid certain situations that are harmful to the self or to others you care for, etc. Emotional neglect and emotional abuse in any situation (not just in childhood, but also in adult relationships) can be psychologically taxing on a person – regardless of childhood experiences, though childhood abuse and neglect can make these negative experiences in adulthood seem so overwhelming to handle, or so challenging to handle – but, with the right tools, the right therapist, and (most importantly) the right social support outside of therapy, we can heal, grow, and embrace ourselves. You’re not alone. I’ve heard so many people with and without childhood histories of maltreatment have challenging problems with emotional neglect in the workplace (e.g., teammates who sabotage your work, as illustrated on some Forbes article, by ignoring your emails when you’re the team leader or when bosses are jealous and exclude you from important meetings), emotional neglect in relationships (e.g., when a husband or wife or other type of partner ignores you or avoids talking to you on an intimate level, avoids any form of intimacy with you, avoids consoling you when you feel down, spends longer than usual hours at work and ignores you and the family, ignores your needs as a partner for sharing in house chores or child care duties, etc.), or when family members become estranged to you and/or continue to emotionally neglect you because they don’t understand or want to deal with any physical, mental, or monetary setbacks (e.g., some families will ignore or become estranged to their homeless or jobless family members; some families will become estranged to or ignore the needs of their mentally and/or physically ill family members). There’s a lot of things in life that occur, and those things that do occur aren’t “crazy”; they are natural responses to harmful or neglectful stimuli. Much of society tends to blame the victim, so it comes as no surprise that victims of emotional neglect (among other things) will tend to blame the self, become harder on oneself, or will ignore the self’s needs. It’s important for us to gain our power and strength back, to continue to explore who we are, and to realize that different circumstances and/or developmental stages (such as middle-age or retirement-age) will bring about more changes in what we like or dislike. Even new experiences that we encounter when we travel across the States or to a new country might help us explore more things we like. I now see life as an adventure, and I also see myself as a person who no longer needs to identify myself as “this” or “that” or based on what I like, but rather as a person who can change and grow throughout my life. I don’t need to define who I am because I don’t need to be bogged down with a definition, but I do need to enjoy life the best I can and to encourage everyone around me to enjoy life the best they can – of course, without harming others. I’m so glad that you were able to voice what you did; that brought encouragement to my heart. I’m also so glad that we’re not alone in this struggle we call “life.”

  • L-G

    April 18th, 2017 at 5:12 PM

    as usual, I’m on another site writing about how pathetic my life is, the most frustrating part is that my symptoms don’t seem to match anyone else’s though they are somewhat similar.

    simply put, i don’t even know where to begin, I’m that much of a mess, I’m a 27 year old little boy…. i am very smart and have gathered a lot of knowledge, so i know a bit of everything i need to survive, i know hard work and do it for a living and i am resilient; but thats as good as it gets, as far as y common sense takes me. i am loving, bubbly, caring, and absolutely hate unfairness to the point of bursting in rage, thats because every friend and family member have always lied, cheated and betrayed me, so when i see it done to others i lash out very severely.

    it started when my parent broke up when i was 10, ma dad was righteous and my mum unrighteough, her new boyfriend filled her ways and i became enraged as did not understand how people could be like this, it literally cut me and scarred me, it even scared me but i shoed it in rebellion and anger, after years of mockery from them and made to feel like a failure even by my younger brother who was treated as the elder, i now have no sense of self, i feel selfish if i think of my self and no matter what i do someone ids never happy, people mock me and laugh at me, even little kids don’t respect me, if i don’t do anything or say anything I’m stupid, and when or if i do, I’m always over the top, either way, it never good enough for anyone.

    my symptoms are very bizarre, i became a Christian at 22 and i really really changed, in the blink of an eye, Jesus came, spoke to me and i was literally a new creation, that was my first feeling of self worth and purpose, i felt convicted of wrong doing and at least now i had a sense of what was what in life, but i still find my self wondering if i really am a Christian due to my feelings and behaviour though the faith of Christ being who He is, is as strong as ever. But me, one minute i feel righteous and the next i want to sin, i struggle to feel for others, its more like i have to force my self, i can’t cry even when i hurt, I’m constantly in despair, i don’t know what i like, where i am or what planet earth really even means, i could be on Mars and it wouldn’t matter, the sense of no purpose sense of self is with me even while i sleep, i am constantly afraid of everything and everyone, when sin creeps in then its self condemnation and guilt, it consumes me to the point of petrification and i cannot move and barely breath,feeling like God is going to crush me, i have this view of zero tolerance towards me from God and everyone; even though i repent, i feel God doesn’t love me, i feel He doesn’t approve of me and even believe some times that I’m here as an example of His wrath for backsliding, yet i feel like i can’t find my purpose in Christ, so the only consolation i have is my addiction to porn, though i hate it, and it doesn’t even please me, especially when i feel close to God, i still do it because i cannot seem to stay in that place with God, its just up and down and when its not my feelings it my thoughts or my nightmares.

    its all as disorganised as this story… even writing this i can see what an uneven and disorganised mess it is.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    April 19th, 2017 at 9:37 AM

    Dear L-G,

    If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Lee

    July 30th, 2017 at 5:21 PM

    Talk, tell you’re kids that you did the same things that wrong, but it’s better to have a child that isn’t fighted to talk u.there never going to be 100% straight with u but I like to feel that they can come to me and talk.

  • Nathan

    December 11th, 2017 at 11:00 PM

    Quick question: is it normal for people who don’t really know who they are to “lift” personality traits from fictional characters? Thinking back on it, I’ve definitely been guilty of doing this in the past.

  • John

    February 24th, 2018 at 12:06 AM

    @Nathan I relate to that.

  • Donna

    May 23rd, 2019 at 4:35 PM

    Yes, Archeotype

  • Dennise

    October 21st, 2019 at 3:37 PM

    I once was outgoing played in bands as a drummer, acting in plays on stage and was able to find a job in a moments notice doing most anything I put my mind to. As life blows by I lost the most important people in my life, my daughter at 18 years from complications of the treatment of cancer, Leukemia and my mother two months later and two years prier my father. Many deaths happened all at once and it has left me numb. Although it has been over eight years I did not realize the impact it would have on me later in life. The many changes not for the better has caused me to question “who am I ?” I was very confident in everything I did ‘ not afraid to try new things. I am a Christian and go to church regularly with my wife and son. After my daughters death , five months later my son was born in the front seat of my car, it was on CNN! The front page in the local NewsPapers. The most joyful day of my life to witness a miracle. Only if I could have harness the uphoria I had that moment and feel that love of God when I’am down and lonely and could just breathe it in and instant joy. I pray and it helps but there is something that I can not change and it is making me depressed. I don’t know who I am anymore. I have a wife I can not confide in, and if I do it turns into an argument about her. I don’t know who I am because I haven’t a job and I am very talented and no one wants me. I don’t know who I am even when I apply for employment looking at my resume’ I don’t know if I can do the job anymore because I don’t know who I am. Is this my resume’? I am an 56 year old man and wondering where am I going next. I do feel stuck and I am angry and I want to get out of this situation and nothing is working for me yet. Leaves me wondering” I don’t know who I am anymore”. Is this it? are the streets my next home?

  • Pam

    February 18th, 2020 at 4:55 PM

    I really don’t know who I am, I was brought up in an abusive both physically and sexually, home, my guardian chose who I was to marry when I was 13, engaged at 16 married by 18, had a baby at 20 and 21. This was a marriage where I was always on guard as he was a covert narcassist. I am now 67, he passed away 2 years ago tomorrow, I felt a sense of freedom when he passed away but it now time to move on, I have just started dating a nice man last week but now am struggling to know who I really am and I don’t want to go into a new relationship not knowing. Any advice?

  • PaulM

    March 30th, 2020 at 10:38 PM

    I’m a 42 year old male who has struggled with identity issues for most of my life, at least since about the age of 14. I had terribly low self-esteem as an adolescent, the cause of which I’m not entirely sure, though I think a verbally abusive and ultra-dominant parent was at least partially to blame. By my early 20s I had internalized and normalized my damaged sense of self to such a degree that I didn’t consider myself to be a ‘real person’. Someone who isn’t real and whole cannot have friendships and relationships because it would be bizarre and weird for others to show any kind of interest in someone who doesn’t really exist fully. The vague mental picture of my external appearance, how I appear to others as I see myself in my minds eye, does not in any way match what I see in the mirror. I’m 6’2 but I don’t feel that tall when I’m around people. I constantly second guess myself during conversation, which makes socializing with people I don’t know, exhausting. I do have strong opinions, likes and dislikes, but I’m likely to avoid expressing these openly, because someone who isn’t real, is not going to have their opinion valued or listened to. I don’t really know what I can do about this. It’s disheartening to reach middle age and still not feel fully alive and comfortable in my own skin.

  • tli

    February 26th, 2021 at 2:38 AM

    im 14 and have no idea who i am and what i want to do in my life as i get older, so hopefully this can help me to figure out what i want to be when i grow up and who i am now. xo

  • Zai

    November 20th, 2021 at 1:16 PM

    I have just had the self-realization that I have no idea who I am. I am always trying to please other people. I try to imitate their behavior and the way they act and dress. I am always trying to gauge what other people are thinking and how they are feeling. I have no idea who I am. I have no idea what I like. I think caring about my own needs is selfish. I can hate my parents for that, and for a long time, I did. But now I choose to forgive them. I have so much love in my heart. It is time I start figuring out who I am. It is time to start making decisions for myself.
    As I write this, I’m thinking about how I’m just being overdramatic, how there is nothing wrong with me and I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Perhaps I have just had a bad day and I will wake up in the morning feeling fine. And now I’m just invalidating myself.
    Hi. I am 20 years old. I am getting my bachelor’s in sociology. It is 2 am. I like the color purple. I should really start exercising. I love pets. I like how certain people smell. I don’t think I’ve ever been in love. I don’t believe in god. I really like apple juice. I am going to make the world a better place one day.

  • Elisa

    January 13th, 2022 at 10:00 AM

    Inspired by Zai I’d like to say that Hi I’m Elisa, I like the colour pink. I love reading romance novels and day dreaming. I like shopping and wearing makeup. I somewhat do believe in god. I like iced tea and cold coffee. I like beachy smells. I like guys who are gentlemen and wear suits and stuff like that. I sure as hell am going to do great in this world and I’m looking forward to it!

  • apw

    July 18th, 2022 at 11:36 AM

    I am 42 i have come to realize that i have went so long not having a voice of my own even thou a part of me knows who i am but the other part doesn’t so of it is because of my childhood and past relationships that was toxic i have a amazing woman whom i love that wants to hear my opinions and my thoughts when i am thinking and even thou i know she would never hurt me for she is not like others in the past seems i am still stuck in a shell i am at the point of my life that i truly don’t know how voice myself and truly be me so how do i know my true self how do i voice my thoughts how do i believe myself without second guessing my self so many things thru my mind all scrambled together can’t seem to put the pieces together.

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