Discovering yourself after a traumatic experience
In addition to destroying trust in yourself and others, a trauma-bonded relationship also takes away your sense of self. At the end of it, you find yourself unable to define yourself since the other person will be controlling all your thoughts, actions, and feelings. The fact that you gradually lose your sense of self without noticing makes the problem run so deep that rediscovering yourself becomes an arduous task to rediscover yourself. There is, however, hope at the end of the tunnel if you make a conscious decision to work towards discovering yourself.
When you are in a relationship with a narcissist, they will suppress your yearning to be heard and freedom to express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Additionally, the person will also manipulate you to only focus on themselves, and they will eventually become the center of your life.
Once you fail to meet their expectations by putting yourself first at any point, you will be branded a self-centered and neglectful person. They will also accuse you of trying to wreck the otherwise ‘blossoming relationship’ by your cruelty and lack of empathy.
In the end, you will be a recipient of condescending attitude and contemptuous treatment whenever you express yourself openly and candidly. The cliché statement “What about me?” will be constantly brought up whenever you deviate the attention from your partner. By instilling in you a sense of shame and fear by telling you how inconsiderate you are, they will have taken over your thoughts and conditioned you to only think from their standpoint. Eventually, your brain will be re-oriented to only think of the other person, which is how you will lose your sense of self.
Another troubling tactic that narcissist use to rob your sense of self is to condition you to know their wants or desires and anticipate their actions and thoughts. Since telepathy is not naturally occurring to everyone, you would be bound to fail to meet their expectation often. The narcissist will then abuse, ridicule, shame, mock, and belittle you for any small failure to meet their concealed expectation. You will also see yourself as a failure since you are in a trauma bonded relationship. In a traumatic bond where rationality does not prevail, you will strive to be a better mind-reader to avoid any problems in the relationship. Consequently, you will lose yourself further.
Exposure to a toxic environment where expressing yourself earns you a punishment of some sort. Your brain will condition itself to a survival mode by inhibiting your faculties that facilitate your ability to put yourself first. You will then end up directing all your energy to please your partner, and before you know it, this will be your primary purpose in life.
The severity of the loss of the sense of sense can be exacerbated by factors such as the longevity of your relationship. Additionally, if you were raised in a similar environment, you may miss the obvious red flags of a self-centered narcissist and be fully immersed in their web.
Unshackling yourself off those chains is not easy. Nonetheless, if you rediscover yourself, introspection and shadow work can enable you to establish underlying issues that predisposed you to fall prey to a controlling person. The lessons learned will allow you to pursue quality relationships in the future.
Do you know your personality?
One common tendency of narcissists is to destroy personality traits that lean towards independence, individuality, and identity. They usually perceive these characteristics as threats, and they are generally unable to wield any power over a person unless they thwart these habits. Hence, it is critical to know your personality to prevent someone from manipulating you to be someone they can use, misuse, abuse, and insult without consequences.
There are limitless options of personality tests available. To have you started in the journey of knowing yourself, we have a 15-minute exercise that is simple to undertake, and the results have a high degree of accuracy.
You may be wrong if you think you understand your thoughts, feelings, and actions. To reiterate our discussions, we learned that our thoughts, feelings, and actions are influenced by our environment, which consists of people whom we have internalized. Hence, how you define yourself could be inaccurate, and the more they need for self-discovery.
To discover your personality, answer these questions.
What 5 words describe me?
What 5 traits define me?
What roles do I play in my social circles, job, and family?
What independent choices have I made in the past out of my own volition?
For this exercise to be effective, you need to provide independent answers from what society perceives as right or wrong and only focus on what you feel ideal for your circumstances. Some people may be unable to provide all the answers. If you are one of them, you can take your time to introspect and resume later.
During the exercise, you should also contemplate why your answers define you. This will enable you to explore your personality and express yourself with clarity.
An abusive relationship takes away your sense of self. The perennial gaslighting, the life in denial, avoidance of facts, excusing irrational behaviour, and arousal addiction change your perspective of reality. You end up as a mouthpiece for other people. The key to rediscovering yourself is knowing your personality and its rationale. Once you have a clear picture, you can develop a thick skin that cushions you from people’s opinions, thoughts, and actions allowing you to have a sense of agency and a distinct identity that is well-grounded in self-gratification and self-fulfillment.
Understanding your motivation
Motivation is an innate desire to attain a goal. There are different theories of motivation, such as Abraham Maslow’s theory of Hierarchy of Needs. They all stipulate that people’s actions are influenced by specific needs and want in making their decisions. Hence, if you value something, your actions, feelings, and thoughts will endeavour for its attainment, and you will be drawn to people who exude what you deem as ideal.
For instance, if you value generosity, you will gravitate toward kind and selfless people willing to offer whatever they must uplift others. If you love honesty, shady people will turn you off at first instinct. Additionally, if you value kindness, you will be smitten with people who are kind, considerate, and charming.
Not knowing yourself also means that you don’t know your values. Not being aware of your valuers hampers your motivation drive, which makes your life stagnate. That is why most people in a traumatic relationship are usually emotionally wrecked since they don’t have any other purpose in life besides living up to their partner’s expectations.
We have a 20-minute activity that will enable you to establish your values to discover your motivators. Knowing what makes you tick allows you to attain complete discovery and start your new life on a clean slate. For instance, if you are put off by ignorance, one of your core values could be learning. If you find yourself unable to lie despite the circumstances, honesty could be your preference. Understanding these values makes it easier to define yourself, enabling you to rediscover yourself after a traumatic experience when your sense of self is at its lowest ebb.
As you undertake the exercise, it is critical to remember that the answers are not defined since we are diverse and unique.
Let us get started: Here is how you can establish the top 5 values that motivate your actions, thoughts, and feelings.
What elates you the most?
What qualities do you admire?
What motivates you?
What is your greatest dislike?
What do you value the most?
After listing your answers, you should consolidate some values if they mean the same. For instance, truthfulness and honesty can be consolidated into integrity. After the list of your items is complete and distinct, you should then rank them in the order of importance to determine your strong preferences.
With a list of your desires correctly ranked, you can reflect on your life and think of how you pursue your desires for personal fulfillment. More often, you may realize that you have not been living up to your desires in pursuit of other people’s interests. The revelation will be a wake-up call that motivates you to strive for self-actualization that meets your goals and desires. For example, if you discover that health is important to you, a reflection on your life could shed light on how you have been deviating from your desires by living an unhealthy life, such as eating fast foods and not exercising. The epiphany will prompt you to start living a healthy life with a professionally recommended diet and physical activity.
Regaining your body
When you lose your sense of self, your mind becomes dysfunctional, affecting how you take care of your body. Some of the adverse consequences of trauma are that you may be ashamed of your body or even develop chronic psychological conditions such as body dysmorphia. Most people in a traumatic relationship also neglect themselves, a factor that accelerates their trauma.
In the same way, your brain is a critical component of your being. Your body is also a fundamental aspect of yourself since it encases your soul and conscious self. Hence, when you pay attention to your body, you can attain full self-discovery by expanding on what your mind has contributed to the shadow hunting activity.
One example of a circumstance where your body is neglected is when you are physically abused, body-shamed, or deprived of basic needs such as food. You may develop physical illnesses such as malnutrition, and your mind might sleep into depression, anxiety, or other related mental disorders. These conditions can alienate your body further from your mind, and your well-being could enter a free-fall phase.
Therefore, heed what your body indicates. This act protects your mind from conditions that impair your mental faculties.
We have a 10-minutes exercise that helps you to understand your body and recognize what your body could be conveying.
List 10 aspects that you cherish about your body
Name 5 things that your body enables you to do
Identify 5 ways that you can listen to your body to support it to serve you better and for longer
To give you a sneak peek of possible scenarios, you can, for instance, listen and support your body by:
Drinking enough water
Avoiding drug abuse
Avoiding physical confrontation
Getting timely quality healthcare
There are no right or wrong answers since we all have diverse traits and preferences. The critical aspect that the exercise tries to achieve is to enable you to understand your body for a complete self-discovery.
A Strength, Weakness, Threats, and Opportunities (SWOT) analysis is a business strategy for identifying internal and external risks. You can use the same test to discover risks emanating from your inner self, strengths, and weaknesses. Strengths are your strong points which are determined by your personality. If you are in a traumatic bond, your partner could see your strengths as threats and thwart any efforts to display your strong points. Over time, you may lose yourself and become a new person. Nonetheless, when you know your strengths, you can be motivated to utilize them for self-actualization.
We have a 10-minute activity that will enable you to establish your strengths and weaknesses. There is no shame in having a weakness, and you should focus on how to alleviate the inhibitions of your weak points by maximizing your strong points. For instance, if you are a pleaser, this is your Achilles heel as people could take advantage of you. With a strength of honesty and respect on the other side, you could learn how to stand up for yourself frankly and respectfully without straining your relationship with people. If you are in a relationship where you receive the short end of the stick, the respect and honesty aspects will motivate you to convey your thoughts and feelings to your partner with diplomacy.
List your 10 strengths
List your 10 weaknesses