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Identity Loss After Changes

After having worked as a Registered Nurse for 8 years, I decided to become a counselling therapist so that I could help people heal more than the physical alone. Having gone through my own healing journey, I discovered that while talk therapy alone is very helpful, it had limitations. This led me to learn Heart Centered Hypnotherapy, Holy Fire Reiki, Somatic Experiencing, Breathwork and Intuitive Readings, so that I could combine the mind, body and spirit to healing.

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Identity Loss After Changes

For some of you that do not know, I used to play all sorts of sports. I played a lot of hockey as a child, and was eventually forced to stop playing because of numerous concussions. My whole childhood had revolved around playing sports and I was feeling lost. I remember crying on the floor grieving the loss of the ability to play. I then replaced that sport with cycling and sacrificed all of my spare time training for the goal of making the Olympics. However, working shift work as a nurse and training full time do not mix well, and I ended up burning out. I decided to leave the sport and move onto other things. However, I felt completely lost and didn’t know who I was, since my whole identity had revolved around being an athlete.


It is common to identify oneself to a status, a job, or a relationship. This can keep us from making change when change is due, because doing so means losing a part of whom we are. Furthermore, our identity gets tangled with something that is outside of ourselves and toward something that we have no control over the outcome. In fact, when we identify ourselves through something that is external, such as a job, a relationship, a status, or something else, we give all of our power away to that one thing. It’s like we are borrowing something that we want from within, through something that we cannot control. For example, when I was playing all sorts of sports, I was trying to borrow the sense of belonging, connection, and adventure through the sport. Furthermore, since I was athletic, I felt good enough and confident. I needed the sport to feel that way. When I left, it was like that those parts of me were gone and that I would never be able to experience what sports brought me. Therefore, through the years, I had to learn to rebuild that within myself without borrowing it from sports and discover who I truly was and liked.


One way to detach the identity through something external is to ask oneself what that thing that we are attached to brings us. If it brings us joy, connection, confidence, and creativity, for example, you may find that you can create the same experience in another place. We can also ask ourselves who we are and our values, so that we can start to live from inside out, instead of outside in. What that means is that is that when we discover our values, we can start to create a life that revolves around them and bring them along in all that we do, rather than needing and waiting for things or the perfect circumstance to be there for us to experience who we are.

For example, I had to ask myself what I loved and what type of person I am when I left sports. What I came to find is that I love adventures and connections and that I am respectful, caring and fun. Therefore, instead of waiting on the sport to bring me that, I had to learn to create these experiences and to bring those parts of myself in all aspects of my life. If we use the example of the fact that I like to have fun and an adventure, I learned to bring adventure when being with friends and family, I would look for something something fun to do while at work, and even look for fun while driving, etc. I also decided to live with respect for others and to care for people I an with, regardless of where I am, instead of only caring for teamates, or only caring when I worked as a nurse. As you can see, in this way, the identity become inside and reflects toward the outside events/circumstances.


Nonetheless, it is perfectly normal to grieve when something you love changes. Sometimes, it might be helpful to heal past pain, or to seek support to find out who you are and what you want. Often, life events and trauma can pull us away from our true self, as is something that we did or liked without having enough support. It might be helpful to notice what talent you have, and what you are drawn to. You can ask yourself what you like about a certain thing or a certain person, as it could be a hint into what you want to be or value in your life. Furthermore, pay attention to when you feel joy or feel happy. This could also be a window to show you things that you value and what you are drawn to. When we can start to know ourselves, we can start to experience who we truly are in all aspects of our lives, rather than putting all the pressure on something that is outside of ourselves to experience a part of us.


Some other questions that might be helpful is to ask yourself what characteristics define you. Furthermore, when you start to find out who you are and what you like, you can bring that into things that you find less enjoyable. Also, pay attention to what you feel that you “SHOULD” do or be, as this is indicative of something that someone told you to be or do and is not true to what you are feeling or that you want to be. “SHOULDS” are formed when we wanted something or acted in a certain way and were not supported. When you think that you should feel or be a certain way, ask yourself what it is that you really feel, want to be or experience.


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