There is Immense Life Value in Truly Understanding Who You Are
“I don’t know who I am anymore” is often felt by many parents,
mums in particular, struggling to adjust to life with children. Becoming a parent can feel like living a paradox of grieving the loss of who you once were, while clearly knowing that you wouldn’t trade your life with kids for anything. And this feeling can last for many years beyond when your kids were born.
But here’s some insight: The only reason why you feel like you’ve lost your identity is because you are still trying to identify with a you that doesn’t exist anymore.
Your brain loves to identify with the past. Feeling lost is just your mind’s way of saying it has lost its ability to connect with your true self.
Identity challenges often appear during times of change; and life has changed. We cannot prevent or control this transformation in our lives, but as parents we can learn how to participate in this transition more consciously through identity awareness and acceptance, rather than being unconsciously carried down the river of change.
When you become a parent, you need to learn to first accept that who you once were has changed. Your identity isn’t lost, it’s just buried under nappies and school books.
The second step is to slowly start to find yourself again.
Knowing What Is Identity
Your identity refers to the parts of you that develop over time in response to the external world and your journey through that world. Living in a world full of distractions, we become increasingly disconnected from ourselves.
Your identity is made up of 5 key areas; personality, interests and hobbies, values and beliefs, occupation, and talents and skills.
Knowing Your Personality
Our character strengths are the defining parts of our personalities that form our identity. By clearly identifying what your core, personal character strengths are, you can use them to redefine who you are, what you want from life, and how to get where you want to be.
The VIA Institute has developed the world’s most recognised, psychometrically validated survey to help people identify their personal character strengths. The full survey is approx. 90 questions long and I encourage you to complete it to get a personalised report outlining your 24 character strengths, in order.
Once you know your top five character strengths, as yourself:
- – Do the character strengths in your top five surprise you?
- – How do you think you currently use them as a parent? As a partner? At work?
- – What might be the upsides and downsides of your character strengths?
Studies now show us that identifying and using your own personal character strengths can bring meaningful enrichment to your life by teaching you how to achieve life satisfaction, live a more fulfilling life and live more passionately.
Knowing Strengths are a Valuable Currency
Money can buy us only so much in life; even The Beatles reminded us that it can’t buy us love.
Research in the field of positive psychology shows us that money can only buy us short-lived happiness through possessions and holiday experiences. Don’t get me wrong; money is still important. But with money, we acquire it, store it, and then spend it on ourselves or others. We acquire wealth not only because of our current needs, but also to have the ability to use it when we need to or want to down the road for reasons that we currently don’t know. We try to build our bank accounts for future use.
Your personal character strengths are a psychological currency that gets deposited into your psychological bank account to be used for the purpose of living healthily, happily and successfully.
Your top 5 character strengths are your strongest parts of your personality, come most naturally to you, and you can “buy” the most life enrichment with them by deliberately using them to make a deposit in your psychological bank account.
Knowing How to Spend Your Currency
- – Happiness; Using your top 5 character strengths in a way you never have before has been shown to increase wellbeing and decrease depression.
- – Positive Relationships; Studies have found that women score highest on the different strengths to men, however, there are still similarities that they share. Recognition and appreciation of your partner’s character strengths assists in developing a better relationship and more commitment to your partner. The same philosophy can also be applied to any other type of relationship in your life.
- – Managing Problems;Using character strengths helps in the development of resilience, which can buffer you from vulnerabilities that can lead to depression and anxiety, such as the need for approval and perfectionism.
- – Confidence;Researchers have found that people who know and use their character strengths experience a higher level of self-esteem and self-efficacy, which means that they feel good about themselves and have a sense of self-confidence in anything they apply themselves to. This can also help improve your ability to cope with stress, thereby decreasing the negative effects of stress.
- – Accomplish Goals;Understanding your top 5 character strengths can help you set goals that have meaning and purpose for you, and can assist with making greater progress on your goals through the strong passion that is connected with our own top 5 character strengths.
Regardless of what your top 5 character strengths are, the benefits towards life satisfaction are in the character use.
Each and every one of us have unique personalities and interpretations of what happiness and wellbeing is; by using the strengths that come most naturally to us helps us create a life that we are satisfied with, proud of, passionate about and successful in.
We can also teach our children to do the same thing in their lives!