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Can I change who I am?

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For so long I’ve really felt like I couldn’t define myself, and it contributed to depersonalization and other problems. Now looking at it I see it’s not that i can’t define myself, it’s that my definition of myself is the opposite of what i want to be. I am cautious, yet want to be adventurous, anxious, yet want to be mellow, inflexible while wanting to be adaptive, realistic while wanting the ambition realism cannot support, isolative and self-supporting while I’d rather be reliant on people if it meant I would be social, and more. I know who I am, and I know who I want to be, but the only things left uncontradicted are not any thing important. Can I change who I am to fit how I want to be, and if so, please aid me with a detailed description of how it is even possible. I really need this. If it means anything, self esteem also plays a big part.

Can I change who I am?

Answered by on -

A.

You’ve clearly given this a lot of thought. Good for you! All things are possible — including reinventing yourself. I can’t give you a full program in a forum like this one but I can give you a few ways to get started.

  1. Don’t underestimate the things you think are unimportant. Everyone has to start somewhere. The qualities that are solid (what you called “uncontradictable”) form a base to work from. They may seem minor to you but they do provide a foundation for what you build next.
  2. Do work on that self-esteem. It’s hard to do a self-improvement program if you don’t appreciate your own good qualities. I suggest you find at least a couple things each day to appreciate about yourself. Positives produce more positives. It’s a fact. In our article 6 Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem we state, “Boiled down to its simplicity, self-esteem simply means appreciating yourself for who you are — faults, foibles and all. It seems like other cultures don’t grapple with self-esteem as much as Americans do, perhaps because of the emphasis we seem to put on materialistic indicators of self-worth (like what kind of car you drive, what school your kids attend, what your grades are, how big a house you have, or what your title is at work). The difference between someone with a healthy or good self-esteem and someone who doesn’t isn’t ability, per se. It’s simply acknowledgement of your strengths and weaknesses, and moving through the world safe in that knowledge.”
  3. Choose the two or three changes you want most to make. Think hard about what someone would be like who has those qualities. Picture yourself doing them. Picture it in detail. Would you stand, sit, or walk differently? Would you change anything about the way you dress or present yourself in the world? Would you need to know more about something? Got the picture? Now – act as if you were already there. Do it as much as you can for at least three weeks, maybe four. This is like trying on a new pair of jeans to see if they fit. Act “as if” until you either feel comfortable in the new role or you decide that maybe it isn’t what you had in mind after all.

In case you’re skeptical: These things really do work. Give it a try.

If you don’t have a good support system, you might also want to get into therapy for awhile in order to have someone in your corner to talk to and to get feedback from. It never hurts to have some unqualified support when we’re trying to do something challenging.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Can I change who I am?

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on January 27, 2010.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). Can I change who I am?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/01/27/can-i-change-who-i-am/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Jun 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Jun 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.