FREED Life Counseling

Building An Identity

Who Am I?

This is a difficult question for many, especially when dealing with long term trauma and secondary trauma. Emotional baggage, stress, shame, control by others and fear hinder growth and impact identity in a negative way. Facades are developed to fit in. Chameleons change who they are based on who they are with. Addiction leads to being consumed by alcohol an/or drugs, and leads to a lack of identity when sober.  Surviving abuse and control often leads to difficulty remembering or knowing likes and dislikes and faded hopes and dreams. This is because life had to revolve around the abuser and survival. Juvenile facilities, rehabs, and jails can all effect development of identity because there are certain norms that have to be met and a lack of opportunities.

What Are Your Passions?

The first step to becoming who you are created to be ( meaning your true self, without all the trauma effects) is to figure out what you like and don’t like. This may sound so simple, but it is not always easy. It may start with something small like figuring out what hobbies you like and trying new things. This can really be anything you want to do. Then decide which of those are enjoyable. You can even travel places you’ve never been, try new foods or spend time with a variety of people to build new friendship s. You will probably need to go out of your comfort zone, but that is really healthy for growth.

If you used to have hobbies but stopped participating in them think back to what you enjoyed, how you felt when you did these activities and plan a date and time to do at least one activity. It will get easier the more you allow yourself to take part in your hobbies again. After completing different activities think of how you felt, what emotions came up and whether it was enjoyable or not.

The next step is to write about your hopes and dreams. Is there anything new you want to learn? Are there classes you want to take? Is there a group you want to get involved in or a cause you’d like to support? Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to research or a place you’d love to travel? Is there a career you’ve always wanted or a business you’d like to start? Sometimes it’s so hard to remember or allow yourself to hope, but it is so important to try. Everyone needs hope. Everyone has dreams inside of them. If you are struggling to come up with anything, journal whatever comes to mind and work on it daily or weekly. You can think back to when you were a child and what you would loved to do as a child, or focus on what makes you happiest.

A third step would be writing a list of goals that you want to work on. These goals would reflect your hopes and dreams and give you tangible steps to achieve them. This builds confidence and self-esteem as you achieve the goals and your hopes and dreams become a reality.  You can even write down the story of your future and how you picture your life to be. You will build hope every time you read it. Decide what life will look like, sound like and feel like for you.

Finally, share your goals, accomplishments, and dreams with people who love you and care about you, and want to see you succeed and grow. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and grow with you. If it’s difficult for you to be alone allow yourself to be vulnerable and spend time alone. If it’s difficult to stop isolating, give yourself an opportunity to go to some social events. Volunteering in some capacity is always a way to help build identity. You can be learn a lot about yourself in these situations and grow as you help others, and it’s really rewarding. You may realize what you are passionate about in the process.

I personally struggled for awhile to build identity. I tended to be a chameleon and didn’t know who I was. I labeled myself with a lot of negative labels due to my past, but knew that wasn’t how I wanted to continue thinking of myself. I slowly learned more and more about myself doing the steps I mentioned above. I prayed a lot for guidance, wisdom and knowing what steps to take in order to grow. I stopped spending time with people who were not  respectful of my boundaries and did not support me. I learned more about what God thought of me by reading the Bible. I stopped thinking of myself in terms of what happened to me and what I did or didn’t do. I looked at myself as a person who was growing, changing and evolving. It was not always easy because I had a lot of fear, anxiety and shame to overcome, but slowly I became more connected to my true self and grew to like myself.

Learning who you are and developing into a person you are proud of is so valuable and provides so much hope. If I can help you in this process or answer any questions, I’d love to hear your story! Please contact me at

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotional healing

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