For the longest time I had identity problems. Here are some examples of the things that would happen to me. Perhaps other things happen to you.
- For many years I would walk past a mirror and gasp when I saw myself. I didn’t recognize myself. That’s me? I look like that? But… I thought I looked different!
- If people told me good things about myself, it would pass through my ears into my brain and then disappear. *Poof* It left me unchanged.
- If someone told me she loved me, or I was attractive or a good man… I didn’t feel that way after a short while. It didn’t stick in me, didn’t add to me, didn’t become a part of me.
- If I did something extremely well, or built something with my hands out of spare parts, I may have felt an emotional rush for a moment, but by the next day I felt flat again.
How is this possible?
I’m was a smart guy. A nice guy. Good looking (apparently). Funny. Published author. Own my own business. Travelled the world. Great with kids.
So how come I would feel flat and empty again even just a few hours after having a wonderful time with friends?
Because the facts about me didn’t “stick” inside me. I hear them or see them and then lose them. They don’t stick inside me.
The image to the left shows a beautiful woman who looks in a mirror/glass window and sees someone else – not herself. Her identity is not accurate.
She doesn’t know who she really is.
If she can’t work out what gifts God has given her, what she is good at… then she will live a passive or frustrated life as she keeps trying things that she is not good at.
BUT if she can connect with her true self, then she can excel at her life and bring glory to God.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matt 5:16
Why didn’t I know what I looked like in the mirror, no matter how often I saw myself? Because I couldn’t hold on to an accurate self image inside me.
Narcissism (excessive self love) is probably just the need to maintain a self-identity, so the person keeps looking at themselves, trying not to lose themselves.
We don’t need to have excessive self love, but we do need to love ourselves.
God HAS given me good things. Sure I also have limitations. But hey, I excel at some things too!
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. – Rom 12:3
The bible says I can measure myself. I should be honest in my evaluation of myself. Not higher. But not lower either.
The vicious cycle goes like this
Within a few hours of doing well in a swimming event and almost breaking a 17 year old record, I didn’t feel like a champion, I didn’t feel like anything – I was empty again on the inside. Nothing would stick inside me.
No truth about me stayed with me and so I could not form an identity about myself that matched myself.
Because I couldn’t remember my achievements, I couldn’t admire myself for being good at things! Because I didn’t remember what I was good at, I couldn’t choose to practice those things and then learn to excel at them!
How pleasurable would it be for God to see His children flourish and grow and excel at the life He has given us? The enemy is the one who comes to steal life from us. God is a Father – He wants us to flourish and grow! He comes to give us life – and life abundantly!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
How have I solved this?
Yes, there is a solution.
I have learned to remember the good things God says about me, or that people say about me. Remember them. Accept them. Make those truths become a part of me.
Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. – Rom 12:3
So now, if I have done a good thing, I say so to myself. I protect myself from abuse – because I matter to me. I invest into my house, because I have decided that I like have a house that people comment on.
I’m learning about me and investing into me. I listen to music I like and I wear clothes that make me feel good. Is it comfortable? Do I like how I look?
Colonize your life
I like to say I am “colonizing my life”. I go from piece to piece, choosing what stays, what gets turfed, what gets worked on so it improves. Room by room. Piece by piece. Item by item.
One small victory leads to another victory – pretty soon I’m like a rolling ball, gathering momentum. My life becomes mine. I cherish and protect what I have. My life looks like me, it reflects me.
In this process I get to know what I like. When I know what I like, then I can either improve what I don’t like, or I can get rid of the things that are terminally bad.
I now have another very personal, intimate blog http://attaching.wordpress.com and I invite you to read through it, from the start to the end. That page is the end. It’s only 31 posts and each of them is short.
Keep on reading
Leave a comment on this page if you’d like? Use a pretend name if you’re not sure you want to reveal your actual name. For further reading maybe try this post Emotional healing… what’s it like? or read some of my other posts on healing. Get into the discussion. Share your experiences. Help someone. Receive help from someone too perhaps.
This post might help you:
- Heal your identity – it will help to fill the emptiness inside
- A vital step to health – thankfulness
Other posts that I wrote:
I usually do not comment, however after looking
at through a few of the remarks here Heal your identity – it will help to fill the emptiness inside | Faith + Hope + Love.
I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
Could it be simply me or do a few of these remarks look
as if they are coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are posting on other places, I
would like to follow anything new you have to post. Could you post a list of the complete urls of your social community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?
I found your post while searching for emptiness.
The description of not having a sense of identity was what struck me because I’d been living all my life that I could remember with the lack of that sense.
Don’t you think all this can be classified as a personality disorder, e.g. Borderline? It seems very close to what you are describing.
The feeling of emptiness, even in its extreme form, is not BPD. Most of society struggles with identity… who are we? Apart from God, we are struggling to identify ourselves… something is missing. But by learning what He says about us, learning who we are when reunited back to Him… we exit this terrible confusion. The solution to BPD and the solution to emptiness and to everything else is always the same… it is Jesus Christ. Of course, there is waaaaay more to it than just saying that, but in its essence He HIMSELF *is* the solution. We receive healing and everything we need from Him.
God bless you!
wow.i totali hve bn feeling empty,but ur post hs bn of greaaaatttt assistance.thanxxx alot..wil definately read tha othr posts on ur blog.
You are welcome Daniela. Please do read them. God bless you.
Today I feel so lost and empty. I have felt this way for a long time. My boyfriend made me feel whole for a while, but even that led to emptiness because he is not a Christian man and would say the wind would heal me, or some crazy music would make me feel better, or to trust in him, but he wouldn’t get a job so he is always wanting money from me for anything he does for me, even if he comes to visit me I pay for his gas to come and be my friend. I think maybe he is just using me, or maybe he is just tolerating me. I can’t figure out why he wouldn’t want to use me. What am I good for if he can not look at me and be proud? I know that when I look at myself in the mirror, I can not believe it is me looking back at me. I am in shock and I just cry. I weigh almost three-hundred pounds and even as tall as I am, I think I look like the ugly comic pictures of Big Bertha. I have gone to the mirror trying to make peace with myself, trying to accept my image, trying to find a way to forgive myself, but now I only have what I look like in the mirror burned into my mind and I can not shake off the mental image how ugly my face, my neck, my body are. The other day someone went to hug me and I found myself holding my breath to hold back the cry that was happening deep inside me because my minds eye could see myself being hugged and I knew in an instant how ugly I looked in that hug, and how ugly the smile on my face looked with my puffy, sad eyes. I realized that is how I have been feeling for a very long time with my boyfriend. He is a man who does not give complements to me, or to anyone for that matter, and his not seeing me as pretty, or lovely, or femine, has reached way deep down inside of me, and I feel like I can’t climb my way back out. I’ve noticed when anyone pays me a complement I am quick to minimize my self worth and imporance. I know it doesn’t sound right. I’m supposed to be able to see past my flaws to humbly accept even a small complement, and I know it’s nothing but selfish when it comes to being a Christian. I am supposed to be self-sacrificing, unselfish, loving and forgiving. But, I know that it has been poor self-esteem, hiding in my room afraid to come out into the world, afraid I’ll be rejected. When I go to the store, men will open the door for the pretty girl in front of me, and let it slam on me, or when I cross the street after work to go to my car, I have learned to wait for a pretty girl to come out, because cars will stop for her, but they will not stop for me. I am so resigned to giving up compleetly on myself now. This, I know is the voice of severe depression. The heavy weight of my self-loathing has made me an obvious target for the devil, whom I am sure has drug me away from any belief I may have had in myself, and reminds me that I will never again know the beauty I once beheld in myself. But, lest I drone on more about the same thing over and over, I wanted to validate that what you are saying completely resonated with me. Jesus can deliver me from this hell I’m living in, if I let Him. He can break the chains of self-hatred and self-defeat, and He can restore me to the hope I need. He is my savior whose love and acceptance, if I am able to listen to Him, am able to turn away from the cruel definitions the devil keeps weaving into my identity. Each day I have been walking a little closer to Jesus again.. each day.. just a little closer.. and while I still feel the anguish, the heavy weight of shame that has stuffed itself inside me, I know am beginning to see again, and I’m beginning to hear again that He loves me and He just wants me to allow Him to breathe new pure life into my soul. I am trying not to look back at my old nature.. it’s pull ..it’s comfort ..it’s death. I’m trying to remember to breathe in how much He loves me, and to stop holding my breath and everything else inside me. I don’t know if anyone has anything they feel Jesus wants to say to me, but I could surely use the help now.. it’s hard trying to climb out.
I’m so sorry you are going through this. And I relate to SO MUCH of what you wrote, maybe all of it… except for the being tall bit 🙂 I’d love to be tall.
One of the things that really stood out for me in what you shared about yourself, is the wisdom you have. Your grasp of the issues is astonishing. And it means you are well set for recovery and healing. Most people have to do the hard work of understanding these things, but you already have that.
Won’t you please take a look at my very personal blog
and read through it, from the start to the end. That page is the end. It’s only 31 posts and each of them is short.
Let me know what you think and what you relate to and if it speaks to you. Please leave comments on THAT blog.
And please stay in touch.
God bless you,
I feel the same way as you do, except I am just 100 pounds and 5′ ft tall , and I have been told all my life I was very pretty. It doesn’t matter about your weight or how tall you are, a lot of us females feel the same way you feel. Also, a male will use even the prettiest woman for his needs. Looks don’t mean a thing to a man, it is what is inside of you that matters. Build your self confidence and men will fall at your feet!!!! When you have self confidence, nothing else matters!!!
I really have experienced healing from your article. Thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to share what you have gone through, and how it is okay to love ourselves. Powerful!
Thank you for visiting and for sharing that with me. Please visit more and keep in touch.
God bless you,
I have read all of your comments and the one thing you all have in common is warmth and honesty. It’s a very brave thing to open up and share feelings and you have all made me feel so much better. Since I was a little girl, I have suffered emptiness. My mum said I used to tell her I was lonely. Not sure why as I had lots of friends but I guess I picked up the bad vibes in my house. I was loved by my parents, I just never saw or felt their love for each other. It was often a hostile environment and I always wondered why they were together. Anyway onwards and upwards, I am the only person in charge of my happiness. I have to love myself first and then somehow create that love inside to create some warmth as at the moment my heart is lonely and cold. Great to chat like this and know that I am not alone. God be with you all. xx
Hi Sara (gday?)
You are NOT alone 🙂
I now have another very personal, intimate blog
and I invite you to read through it, from the start to the end. That page is the end. It’s only 31 posts and each of them is short.
Thank you for visiting and for sharing that with me. Please visit more and keep in touch.
God bless you,
I love these geniune blogs. They speak to my heart! Thank you!
Hi Diana, thank you for visiting and for your kind words of encouragement.
God bless you!
I am really glad I’ve found your website!
I’ve done the ‘working the kingdom’ without hope and love in a barren marriage and omg, the guilt for not being able to do it any longer . . however, I am out now and I am so glad and I’m in counseling and trying to learn to enjoy life and not work so hard at everything all the time.
I’m going to get that book you recommended about thinking optimistically – I think I really need that although I thought I was a glass half-full kind of girl – because I do have optimism – but I’m really struggling enjoying this part of the ride, I guess . . .
Honestly, I think all I’ve ever know was to work hard to earn love, you know . . . .
Hi Daleen, I’m so glad you have connected to this site too. Stay in touch and keeping reading and growing. And most importantly, keep praying. God bless you 🙂
i am glad to read this
Thank you for visiting 🙂
This is so awesome. I am absolutely feeling the same. I dated someone who seem to take everything that was important to me.
Today I decided that healing was better than hurting.
Here’s my story:
Thanks everyone for sharing.
I assumed I was the only one who felt empty. Reading your blog was like reading a story about my own life. I have more good days then bad now that I’m discovering myself and getting involved in activities I enjoy. I’m also learning to let go of friendships that don’t work for me. I just had a light bulb …. Seems that I have a history of clinging to guys who love me, even though they are not the best choice for me…it always ends badly becaue they fall in love and I never do. So now I’m working on developing and nurturing platonic friendships, and my relationship with self. Then I can be more selective with my choice of a romantic partner. Another ligt bulb…it feels like i’m so self absorbed. Perhaps that’s common amongst the empties (new term for us). I feel bad about this. Maybe i’m just so starved for love that i have nothing to give. I hope that’s the case and that i will become more giving and selfless as i heal. Anyway, seems that I’m still a work in progress….does anyone have a hard hat I can borrow! THANK YOU! All the best…Char.
Read Romans 10 … you will get alll your answers..
i truly believe that you are right..i have experienced the samein my life…
i feel empty inside. I get bad bouts of derealisation and i feel so sick i get scared im going to drop dead in a public place. My partner alwys tells me how much he loves me and how good i am but its like he may as well be talking chinese because its like i dont truly hear him, or i dont value his opinion of me. I think its truly impossible for me to love myself. When i look inside myself i feel so empty, it scares me, the emptiness is felt in the middle of my chest area and it feels hard to breath. it seems cold. it used to be where id feel like exploding wtih happines but now that part of me is just dead, like ill never be happy again. I dont know how to fix this. Thank you for trying to help though
I’m sorry you feel this way. So many people feel this way in our society. But the good news is that we can do something about it. We can get help and we can help ourselves. Please read my posts. With the help of God, I am doing very well today, and you can and will be too. I’m confident that you can, if you are willing to.
God bless you,
i like it so much really express what i feel as i wrote it
I’m very glad you enjoyed it hagar. Thank you for visiting! 🙂
I read your post, I am not sure. I feel good as there are points that remind me not to feel lost-my life is not that bad. Indeed, i have my job, partner and family who loves me. However, i am still feeling lost-cause i am not satisfied with my job, i do not like the nature of my job, i have a platonic relationship with my lover-i feel that we are getting further and further between us.
I am still lost…i hate the feeling…it is devastating…
I find your story very interesting. The proof that everythink is possible, but we need to love what we are.
I read a book of positive thoghts and affirmation and balived in it. I am sure we need God in our life as a supreme giude for us. He, first, prooved how much love is important and what a good path is.
Emptiness is in me when I can back home and know I can not find the love I need for.
I think we shoul learn to live without and enjoy only what we do have!
I really don’t know where to start ofcourse i am here b/c i fell empty inside as well. I have never felt this empty before i don’t understand it. I’m not even myself lately. No fire. No motivation. More Profanity. I’ve known God. I’e known his goodness but i feel as thoughb God has given up on me. I know i have. I feel like a walking talking shell just passing through waiting to return to dust.
Nothing traumatic has happened in my life. No deaths. Infact good things have been happening. I got a response from a job i applied for. I was selected to meet with the top modeling aents all free to me. But yet i don’t have any JOY!!!!
I hope i don’t feel like this for long.
hello! the guilt doctrine is tedious! i think we’re all coming from a good place of the heart (if we can feel our hearts?!). i had guilt issues and didn’t even know it! here are some facts: god loves us. we’re commanded to love one another.
if it’s difficult to believe god loves us – pray about it – and just THINK that it’s POSSIBLE that god loves us; i will pray about it.
the thing that’s a pisser is that it takes time. yup it hurts. and we’re humans, so a thing i’ve learnt recently about grieving is to express it, fully; face it, without grasping or rejecting this hurt; crying can heal; jesus wept; we’re human.
divorce is where i’m coming from, and it hurt, and continues to hurt… i’m grateful for the healing…
I’ve been a believer in Christ for about 14 years but I am so tired of stuggling and feeling confused. I like what you said about self-denial and I’ve been back and forth between really trying to love and respect myself or to give and sacrifice more. I’ve lived with years of guilt and shame. I want to really experience freedom but I don’t even know what it looks like. All I know is I’m tired. I’m tired of hating myself and not even allowing myself to be human. I’m tired of being nice to everyone but myself. I’m tired of feeling guity for wanting a little happiness. Life shouldn’t be such a chore. Thank you for helping me to see I’m not alone and that my feelings don’t make me look unchristianly. I would love a reply. I need help.
thank you with all my heart. I was feeling very empty and alone today. Your faith and hope and strength has helped me to move through these feelings and reminded me thats its ok to feel needy and its ok to ask for love and help.
and it begins with me
so im off to spend sometime in worship and to try living again. thank you thank you thank you this is a beautiful blog
Peace Dove, thank you for your transparency. We need more of this in the body of Christ. I needed the reminder to love my wife in ways she is not getting from me right now. Praise God!
Funny. I also googled feeling empty and found this.
Here’s my story.
I’ve been married it would’ve been 10 years this July. My possible ex and I have been through a lot.
I found myself allowing a root of bitterness to spring up from his emotional neglect and allowed it to take over my heart. He started partying drinking etc 3-4 nights a week until 2-3 am 6 years ago and I did the complete wrong thing and went to another mans arms. I wish I could go back and spoken kinder and been wiser. I felt guilty and confessed and struggled with his forgiveness and my own forgiveness for the last 6 years. Nearly a year later his mom committed suicide. Which sent him in to even more emotional distance.
He had a traumatic child hood and I think he really has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His eyes will glaze up and he’ll pretend things don’t happen.
We ended up having a kid who’s now 3 and he still didn’t want to settle down. Ever since October I had been feeling a coldness about him. He stopped answering his cell phone when he’d go out and he’d stay out even later. He was never the type to cheat so I didn’t think I had to worry. Then physical abuse came 2 times after he got home at 5 am and I was ranting and raving. My daughter saw a lot of it. Come November he went and got an STD test and I still didn’t get it. I thought he was concerned because his family history. Then 1 night about a month ago 2 of my so called friends. Girls that I knew had bad hearts Girls I had known all my life. Went to the home he was staying at because I had kicked him out due to the partying and they seduced and slept with him. I’m sure he was willing.
I always thought I could help these girls. What I didn’t realize is I was being influenced more in the numb direction.
One got a bad conscious and decided to tell me the next day after the others husband called me to ask where the 2 were. When I confronted him he lied for 4 days. Then finally confessed. About 1 week later he confessed that he had slept with 7 different women since October. So all of my accusations and “tripping” was true. I feel so much guilt and shame from my past. So much guilt that I saw the decline of my relationship and didn’t nurture it. I brought these harlots into my home. I used my mouth to dishonor my husband so often. I feel like if I would’ve nurtured more and attacked less this wouldn’t have happened.
The main lessons I’ve learned from this is to:
* Trust Your Instincts
* Never make your spouse your God–I let my emotions be controlled by him.
* Never compromise on friends. If you have a bad feeling or know a person struggles. Cut it off. For you and for them.
* When sin happens it is against God and God alone.
I’m going to counseling trying to love myself. Ever since I was 14 I’ve been going to men to bring me the fairytale. I would fantasize about how life would be if only I met Mr Right. It is so sad that we forget God and making him #1. I am his daughter first and foremost. How does God’s daughter act?
This week my spouse contested the parenting plan and asked for more time. He currently isn’t even meeting the plan but he wants to make himself look better on paper. Now we have to go to court. I was willing to forgive him if he repented. But he’s not. I’m so confused day to day. Sometimes I feel so lonely that I think of compromising and letting him back in. He’d just pretend nothing happened but still want to hang out with the same nasty friends. But I know that he isn’t well and he’s still partying. So the last few days have been so depressing and overwhelming in that I never expected I’d be getting divorced. I feel like such a failure. A failure for the terminated marriage. A failure for my mouth and all the hurtful things I said. I feel empty and scared.
My friend asked me what the matter was and that I seem scattered and can’t make sense. I feel disgusting. I’m trying to focus on my healing and my baby. I keep praying for my old friends and him. I pray for forgiveness for my parts. I pray that God will fill me and I would only look to him but tonight I just feel numb and empty.
Hi Peace Dove.
How I wish I could snap my fingers and heal you and solve these issues. But as you know, I can’t.
But what I can say is that your sharing of what you have learned will help SO MANY people. I personally am so grateful that you shared your insights. I am not being kind or generous… your learnings are so eloquently put and so clear, I just know that many other people will recognize your story AND they can put into effect what you have learned.
Breaking co-dependence is terribly hard. You are well on your way to (emotionally) un-merging yourself from your husband – in an emotional sense. You know what is yours and what is his. I just hope that things can be restored if you both can grow and heal.
The thing I most admire about what you have written is you not just sharing the sadness, but the lessons and the truth – you are maybe going to be a counselor in many years time.
You ended by saying you feel empty. There is no shortcut to filling that emptiness, BUT in my experience you can and WILL be filled and have warmth.
* Heal your identity – it will help to fill the emptiness inside
* A vital step to health – thankfulness
Other posts that I wrote:
* Why does the bible say to love yourself?
* God has a plan to prosper you… what to do while you wait
* Emotional healing… what’s it like?
Peace, God is traveling this with you. He is like a wind at your back, helping you along. You still have to walk, but He is there to assist.
Let me just say again how much I admire you and how far you have come and your willingness to help others by sharing your lessons learned. Your honesty can help others avoid the difficulties you are going through.
God bless you!
Good post. We cannot truly love others until we love ourselves. I have been thinking about doing a post on Filters. you know like camera filters. I think everyone has a filter, made up of life experiences and head knowledge. Everything we hear and see comes through that filter, shaping our beliefs. Unfortunately just like camera filters, they distort the real picture. The way we see ourselves, when filtered is a distorted image, the way we worship, the way we maintain relationships, the way we view God, all distorted. Christian maturity is the process of using God as our filter–seeing ourselves and others and Him through His filter. It is a process I have been working on for some time now. I think you are redefining your filter.
Just my thought, for whatever it is worth,
And by the way, I am still praying for you.