Part of my recovery has been to discover who I am and what I believe in. Most of my past has been spent living behind masks for survival. Who I showed the world did not match who I was on the inside. None of my alters had voices or advocates. There was not a single safe way to express our real self and be accepted, let alone respected for being different. And that caused a lot of anger, shame, resentment, and hurt.
About eight years ago, I started reading about the authentic self movement. It talked about being genuine and taking a path of self-reflection to discover one’s inner values; then changing thoughts and behaviors to live up to those values. Because not living up to one’s values was the root of guilt, shame, resentment, and self-hatred among other negative emotions. And living up to one’s values helps individuals feel better about themselves, builds confidence and positive reactions to situations, and fosters self-respect.
If we like and respect ourselves, others will to. The opposite is also true.
What are Values?
I understand “Values” to be an individual’s internal belief system – ethics, morals, rules or guidelines to live by – that helps him or her live the life he or she wants. And by “what he or she wants”, I do not mean material or financial wants. I mean spiritual, emotional, and physical life. Here are some examples of my values:
- To not be like the people who raised me
- To love, respect, accept myself and every living being with all of my pluses and minuses
- To always and intentionally treat people the way I want to be treated with friendliness, respect, and honesty no matter how they treat me, themselves, or other people
- To value the opinions and feedback from others (especially loved ones) and use that information to help me make my own informed decisions
- To make the best choices possible for myself based on the information I have and accept the consequences
- To learn from my mistakes instead of living with regrets and grudges
- To have compassion and empathy for myself, my parts, and other living beings
- To use the skills I’ve learned to foster open, honest communication with people so that misunderstandings can be prevented
- To walk away from people who intentionally hurt me or others as a way to make themselves feel better
- To choose to spend my time around people who like and respect me as I am instead of who they want me to be
- To have zero tolerance for bullies and abusive people
- To speak up and advocate or fight for what I believe in using words and actions without violence or meanness
- To use whatever means necessary to survive and not feel shame or guilt about lying, physically hurting another person, etc.
Making Changes, Keeping Secrets
If you’ve read past posts, you understand that making these changes in public would had put all of us in danger. You probably know that many of our plans from that time were executed in secret. It’s not that difficult to do if you spend a lot of time living inside your mind like we did. It’s more difficult for those who live mostly on the outside. Or for individuals who have a lot of contact with unsafe (abusers) people in their daily lives. Next post discusses options and plans.
Thanks for reading