Whether you’re single, in a long-term relationship, or your current relationship status is ambiguous, one relationship that you can’t avoid (for too long) is the one you have with yourself. Yes, it can sound like a commonly coined self-help phrase, but according to clinical psychologist Gemille Cribb, not taking time to assess your authentic self can affect your romantic and platonic relationships and your career choices. But even if you do decide it’s time to take yourself on some dates and get reacquainted, it can be hard to know where to even start.
Meet the Expert
Gemma Cribb is a clinical psychologist with a special interest in sex, love, and relationships. She has written two successful books: Doing Single Well and Great Sexpectations.
If you feel like a highly-accomplished chameleon, changing and adapting for every new relationship or job that comes your way, we asked Cribb for some sage advice about the best places to start when working on your identity. Below, her tips on finding your true identity and why it's so important to do so.
MyDomaine Australia: Why do we often put our relationship with our self last?
Gemille Crib: We live in a culture that prioritizes doing and achieving. All this outward focus leaves little time for introspection and developing insight and self-knowledge. What is more, we all want to be liked. Unfortunately, some of us feel we can only be likable if we please other people and we will change ourselves to do this. This means that authenticity and being true to yourself is sacrificed in order to be the person you think others want you to be.
MD: What can happen if you don’t figure out your true identity?
GC: Living true to yourself and in-line with your values is what will give you happiness and fulfillment. Just doing what others expect of you is a pathway to boredom, feeling lost, and becoming depressed.
MD: What are some ways we can start working on our identities?
GC: Start to notice what things genuinely make you feel good. And try to identify what things you feel you are doing just to "check the box." What people are you genuinely drawn to and what people do you see because you "should"? What activities would you do and experiences would you have if nobody else knew or cared? In all things, looking at your "shoulds" versus your "wants" is a good way to work out if you are doing something that is truly meaningful to you, or if you are doing something because someone somewhere taught you that you "should."
MD: What are the risks of not knowing who you really are?
GC: You can get into careers and relationships that aren't a good fit and don't make you happy. You may spend your life feeling like there is something missing and wondering what the point is because you aren't getting the joy and satisfaction that you could out of it.