Be yourself, not who others try and make you

In this blog Fe reflects on the tension between the importance of self-knowledge, and what others see, and the importance of noticing the impact different relationships have on us.

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Who are you, what you believe to be true about yourself, or what others tell you you are?
My sense of it is that we are complex beings. Looking through our own eyes, we see much of ourselves, including some aspects never shared or shown to others. Looking through the eyes of others, aspects of us can be seen that are outside of our own awareness, and from this we can gain useful insight and growth. However, we must always remember that what is seen is mediated as much by the looker as by the looked upon, and so I am unsure that we can call any of it objective, or treat it as ‘reality’.
There comes a point in the first year of our life outside the womb that we learn we are not one with our caregiver. We develop some sense of ourselves as separate, and we begin to form our own identity. That identity and our beliefs about ourselves are formed through interaction with those who care for us, those who love us draw out some aspects, while others they may not notice, or know how to nurture. Accordingly, our relationships and the people we have them with shape us.
This shaping carries on into adult life. Those we interact with affect our being, through their energy, words, behaviours and feelings, we cannot not be changed as we interact. And nor can we not change others.
There are big variations in the impacts of our relating. Relationships can affirm our sense of ourselves, bring out the best in us, and encourage us to be more and more of who we fundamentally are. And, they can squash us, undermine us, wobble our sense of our own being and self, and even have us doubt what it is we experience to be real. And they can do both, for nothing is ever black and white.
Part of the tension of growing within ourselves is sensing which relationships are nurturing and affirming, and yet give us sufficient rub to help us overcome blind spots and grow, and which relationships are diminishing and energy consuming, throwing at us perceptions that do not fit and lessen our capacity to be. I guess an important question to ask is whether a relationship helps us to stand upright and shine our light in the world.
It is important to be who you are, to know and respect yourself, wrinkles and all, and to stand tall in your own presence. From this place of self-respect, you are well-equipped to notice how your relationships impact you, and to make grounded decisions about how to evolve and become more of what and how it is you want to be. You are also then able to assist others in standing upright and bringing their gifts to the world, and from so-doing, both people grow.
Depending on your upbringing and life experiences, this may or may not be natural or easy for you. For many, it is a lifelong voyage of reflection and learning. I’m not sure there is one set destination, more a direction of travel, and a humility in finding our own way forwards.

Fe Robinson, Psychotherapist

Hi. I'm Fe, and I'm here to help you thrive, whatever life brings. I believe every client is unique, I work with you to help you explore, discover and grow in whatever ways are right for you. I work with a wide range of clients, both long and short term. I offer Psychotherapy, EMDR therapy and Couples Counselling to UK clients online and in Gainford, Co.Durham in North-East England. I am UKCP Accredited and an EMDR Europe Practitioner, and offer Clinical Supervision to counsellors and psychotherapists online and in person. Following a career in Organisation Development I became a therapist because it's my heart work. Before having my family and starting my private practice I worked in the NHS and mental health charities.