As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I know all too well that a big part of it involves having a lack of personal identity.
I’ve spent most of my life completely unsure of who I really am because I’ve always made it a priority to make myself palatable to others, even if that meant adopting values and beliefs that weren’t my own. I was the ultimate chameleon: I became exactly the same as whoever I was around.
So what can we do to establish our own identity? Read on to find out.
Establish your core values
Sit down and write a list of your core values. Try to limit it to five. Think about what is truly important to you. For example, it might be loyalty, compassion, human rights, animal rights, creativity, or any number of other things. What is core to who you are as a person? Don’t think about what you want other people to think of you. Just try to focus on what is important to you, deep down in your soul. What makes you tick?
What makes you happy?
Try not to limit yourself to what you think is possible or what you already have. Think broader. Don’t consider anyone else’s expectations, only your own happiness.
Write a bucket list
Come up with a list of things you want to do in your lifetime. Again, don’t consider anyone else, this is all about you. If you have a partner who doesn’t like to travel but you really want to visit Australia at some point, still list it! It’s a part of who you are.
Try some new hobbies
If you’re unsure what you like or dislike, have a go at a few different activities. Try out a taster session with an art group, go swimming, tag along with a walking group. Don’t commit to anything long-term – at this point you’re just trying things out, finding out what you enjoy, not what others want you to enjoy. Try not to concern yourself too much with the others there. Sure it’s great if they’re nice, but your task for now is to focus on the activity. Which ones make you happy?
List five things you like about yourself
This one might be tough for those of us with BPD as we tend to be super self-critical but try your best. Maybe you like that you always say hello to your neighbour when you see them. Maybe you like that you have a good sense of humour. Maybe you like that you have funky coloured hair. If you think of more than five things, that’s great! But aim for at least five.
List your three biggest achievements
Again, this one may be tough, but try to think of things you’ve done that made you really proud of yourself. It might be finishing university, making the call to access therapy, or successfully going to the shop when your anxiety was high.
The possibilities challenge
If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you do?
Hopefully, after following these steps (or even just some of them), you will have a better idea of who you are. What you do with this information is up to you, but I hope that it will encourage you to be your own person, and save yourself the years I wasted trying to be someone else.
What makes you who you are? Maybe you want to answer some of these questions in the comments? I’d love to know your answers!