How do you build yourself? How do you get to know who you really are?

HomeForumsTough TimesHow do you build yourself? How do you get to know who you really are?

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  • #36024

    I posted in this forum earlier ( and received a comment from DolceM which made sense to me.

    I do feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes. And what I’ve discovered is scary. I’ve discovered that I don’t know who I am – and I’m not as solid as I thought I was. Rather I fit into people’s notions of me and conformed to opinions so that I felt safe. Looking back, I can see a pattern emerge so clearly – I would identify the most ‘powerful’ person in my circle of influence (whether that circle was professional or personal) and then I would start a slow and steady path towards integrating myself towards that person.

    I don’t mean I sucked up or I was sycophantic or a boot-licker. I don’t even mean I compromised on my morals or did anything I wasn’t supposed to do. I just mean that this person would become my external anchor point, my reference point and I would then feed off their energy, approval, methodology, style of thinking and living, and I would try and make it my own. In a moment of crisis, my first question to myself would be “What would ABC do? I should probably do that.”

    I’ve always relied on someone else’s approval to tell me who I am.

    Now I’m finally at a stage where I can’t hide from myself.

    So here are some questions I am struggling with:

    1. How do I find out who I really am? I mean, can anyone who has gone through a similar thing give me a real-world example of a situation that revealed something to them, about themselves? Can you help me out with the day-to-day real-life examples and experiences?

    2. This journey of self-discovery – it leaves me feeling very unbalanced and unanchored. I feel like I’m living with a stranger. Does anyone else ever feel that?

    3. How do you balance this internal journey with ‘regular’ life – going to work and dealing with work pressure etc etc? Doesn’t it create a conflict of sorts? The conflict between a young, newborn, still-coming-into-being inner you being thrown into a situation where the ‘old’ you has to come out and take charge? Does that happen to anyone?

    4. Can anyone direct me to other online resources or tools that help you discover who you are? Even something as basic as – how to make a list of your beliefs and values/ how to make choices – ANYTHING at all.

    Thank you, Tiny Buddha community. Your very presence is a blessing.


    I can only answer #2:

    For me – since my rude “awakening” (My inner-voice repeated “awakening” with a distinct sneer) – the very laws of physics seem in flux. I doubt the (my interpretation) of nearly every moment.

    At least before I KNEW the world sucked, and I knew why. I was a master of sizing a person up and, like you, presenting what they needed so I’d be liked.

    And when I say Master, I mean MASTER.

    Introductions; quick small-talk to scout the terrain; lay into a few high-charged topics using statistics as your guide to find the sore spot; add a few sympathy words in a quite aside and – never lie – confide a similar story if you have one.

    I never used it for financial gain. Didn’t until this moment see the process. It was my way into your head and heart to manipulate for something far more fraudulent: your opinion of who I am.

    Who I am, I’ve always believed, was murdered shortly after birth. And while I HATE them it is nothing compared to what I feel toward whatever started all “this.”

    I’ve HAD to present a slapped-together persona because there has never been anything else there. There was never any time to develop or grow or look…. I was too busy hating.

    That’s what I can’t seem to let go of.

    In my case, I resist looking. When I read somewhere the suggestion to make a list I either have a panic attack or, if I’m strong enough that day, quash that down and release it as cynicism all over that list. The same with meditation, e-courses, etc. Anger always gets in the way.

    Too scared to jump out of the frying pan, and slowly dying where I am.

    No solutions, but at least you know you’re not alone.


    When we are born and as children, we learn who we are from the responsible people who care for us. Later in life we can build on this and become “in spirit”, spiritually in touch with the deepest, highest form of love, that brings us understanding of this life, what may exist beyond it, and who we are beyond our ability to explain.

    That’s how it should be, but in reality we don’t always have responsible care takers who are able to teach us these things. And so, sooner or later as adults, we flounder and struggle to find our self.

    When how I was living, my life, became so painful years ago, I was driven to find out why. I had to. I was so full of anger and it was surely tainting my relationships with my family. During this time frame, my brother had died from a drug overdose, my stepfather had left my mom for another woman, and my relationship had failed.

    Mostly, I was angry at my mother for abandoning us as kids to live with our angry father & a stepmother who didn’t know us, or care. I blamed all this on the loss of my brother, and my abandonment issues which I believed to be the cause of so much havoc in my relationships.

    Life sucks some times.

    But here is what I did, and how I learned who I am, and why.

    I did make an inventory of my fears. I used a 12 step program. I took that list to a trusted person and worked through them one by one. I found my fear’s ROOTS, and learned that the opposite of fear is love. It’s the most difficult thing to love your self, when you are full of fear & some “thing” has pulled your rug out from under you. And I learned that even though I might feel, experience fear, I don’t have to act from it, and I do have the ability to stop my thought, and think other wise. It has taken many years of practice, and believe me when I say, that the opportunity to “get it right” has presented itself consistently. And I forgave. I learned forgiveness by wanting, wishing, praying everything good for the people I blamed. I did this with a desire that I have never again experienced. It was awesome and successful. I still do it if I feel injured spiritually.

    As to finding your self. First, you are not any “thing”. You are not your thoughts, you’re not what you feel, you are not your mother’s daughter, you are not any thing. Sometimes, you can understand some of who you are by starting out with a list of who or what you are not.

    Please stop for a moment to realize that no one, not a single other person in the entire existence of humankind, has the knowledge and gifts that you bring to us now. We are all unique in this respect, and speaking of respect, honor your self with believing, acknowledging this is true. I would do this daily, if I were you. Even with in the confusion you may feel right now, you are one of a kind and on a good path.

    Second. We are all in progress. I am me today, I will be me tomorrow, but I will be a slightly different me by day after. And patience. Bring patience to your self by holding your hands, palm up to the sky, and breathing. Believe that it is ok, you are ok, and be ok with knowing that where you are and what you’re feeling is all right.

    To reply, (but not to say that this is any right answer), to your 3rd question about regular, work life, I would say that if your personal work to know your self does not allow for your spirit to co-exist in your current work and stress, then… you will either abandon your quest for finding you or change jobs eventually. And with most people, this happens gradually and naturally.

    There are many tools to gather and use for knowing who you are. Asking the question in the first place means to me that you are awake, conscious. Asking the question here in this forum could mean that you take this quest seriously. Hold on to this, keep taking steps. Life will teach you who you are. Start by loving you for asking.

    Thank you for the gift of showing me a little more of who I am.


    Hello Amita,

    How wonderful that you are taking some time to get to know yourself. My own spiritual journey has spanned many years, but I remember when I started out, not so sure of anything only knowing there was more to me than I had previously imagined. Yes, it felt confusing and I often felt like an alien in the world, unable to see the point of what was going on around, amazed at what I was discovering inside myself.

    I was almost afraid to trust my new found self, scared of letting go of everything which was familiar to me. But I went for it anyway. I had been in so much pain for most of my life, with nothing that seemed important to everyone else having any meaning to me…My desire to know myself and have meaning in my life became an intention, and it was this strong intention which guided me to all I needed to know, everyone I needed to meet and to myself.

    I would encourage you to simply let go of the need to feel comfortable with it all, and accept that change is not comfortable until you let go of needing it to be so. Trust is what happens when you let go and you will see as soon as you do this, that guidance will follow.

    Love and peace,



    hello Amita,

    You sound very much like me. The opinion of others around me defined who I was for a very long time. I started to become different people. When I was around my parents, I was “polite” and happy and wore “respectful” clothes. I also would wear something that would make me look thinner because they were always on my back about my weight. I was then different people around different groups of friends, and even was a different person around my boyfriend. I was never satisfied because everytime I met someone, I would take what they had and tried to “fit in” and be like them when I knew I would see them again. I guess we all fall into this trap, because it’s basically impossible to not have some sort of attachment to approval energies because we want to be liked. That being said, it shouldn’t define your life. I am only 19 and the past 6 months I have gone through (what I call) an amazing journey of anxiety disorder. I still get moments of it, but it’s not as bad as what it was. I can still remember the day it started, and looking back now, nothing had actually “changed” as such, apart from my mental state, but boy was it a challenge. And that’s why I call it an amazing journey because it showed me who I am and was a path and journey my destiny was wanting me to face to come out the other side with a new perspective of myself.

    the biggest thing i’ve probably learnt from it all (which i’ve only discovered in the last month) is that your inner bully is responsible for a lot of my suffering, comparing, depressed states, upset, angry etc. Because when I look at it now, the only thing making me do these things is because my inner bully has told me “i’m not good enough” “that girl is prettier than you, you should feel sad” “your life isn’t going great, time to look at it negatively” and when i realised that my life isn’t bad, I love my life, I may not be the prettiest or skinniest but that didn’t define someone and any other negative stuff that came from my inner bully, I was just so angry at it! this person had been dictating my life and trying to make me see things the way I didn’t want to see them, or in that matter, were not true! A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulder because i was so subjective to all this negativity, even when i used to try and impress people, the only person telling me that was my inner bully. they were basically saying “you need to impress and change for these people, otherwise they will think differently of you” GOOD GOD!

    So on your path and journey, just take in your inner chit chat and ask yourself, is this true? or is this my inner bully pushing me around? i like to think of my inner bully as an alien who doesn’t understand planet earth, or me, or my life and just spits out random rubbish because it doesn’t understand.

    another thing is to try to not to “look” and “seek” for something too hard. When your trying to do something, you may be dissapointed every time you don’t find it. I did this for ages. I was just going in circles. But do things, and then reflect on them. How did you act? if i was another person, would I want to meet me?,

    another concept is to write down your values. And see if you are living buy them. These can be sentences, or just words. Some of mine were: see strength, feel compassion, inspire gratitude and share love. When you do these, you will definitely feel like your own person, because no one has the same values. They might be the same concepts, but people feel them differently.

    The biggest thing is to not compare yourself. What do you have, or what do you do or what can you bring to the world? and life is a journey, what ‘good’ are you going to leave behind when your life comes to an end? are you going to care and help people? are you going to make a person smile each day? are you going to meditate? are you going to put your rubbish in the bin?

    Most of all, just be kind to yourself. There is no set destination for finding yourself, because as we get older, we learn more and more. Just start off small. Only time will tell. You are the only version of you, and no one else can do what you can bring to life.

    Hope this helps


    I think most of us go through this at one point or another. We all wear masks it’s a coping mechanism. It sounds to me like you are a people person, you are very observant and a great networker. The talented mr ripley- a great movie. I am much like you where I realized how easy it is to make people like you and to connect with them. It’s something I do without realizing it. I adapt to what they need me to be that I feel like I am never myself. I have the opposite problem because I know who I am. Instead of discovering who you are, maybe figure out what kind of person you WANT to be (accidentally spelt wang there for a second was really funny). You can be whoever you want to be and if you don’t like who are then become someone else. Instead of emulating others emulate an idea, or principle. I don’t know if this makes sense but I feel like by asking this question you are on the right path. Based on the actions of what you wrote and reaching out on this forum I can tell who you are and it’s something worth holding on to.
    Hope that helps.

    Ps sorry if someone pretty much said this. It’s late and I was skimming over replies because I’m tired 🙂

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