Connection to Self

Quoted from Terrence Real:


The first clue of his condition is an absence rather than a presence—an absence of feeling for himself.  Billy tells me that he felt the pathos of his bickering parents but did not feel, and still does not feel, much concern for the young boy who grew up with them.


Billy feels his parents’ pain precisely because they do not.  And, burdened with their pain, he has little room left for empathy toward his own…Billy’s lost connection to self suggests that in those nights out with friends or upstairs alone in his room he learned more than simply to cut off from his deepest emotions.  He actively learned to despise them.



Blurry Sense of Identity (Who’s Pulling Your Strings – Harriet Braiker)


Having an unclear sense of your own identity—not knowing where you begin and end, whose needs you feel and fill, and what values are central to your core—is a bookend of manipulation.  On one side, the lack of clear identity predisposes you to being dominated and controlled in manipulative relationships.  And when you become the pawn in other people’s power games, the weaker and more blurred your sense of self becomes.  Here are some examples of blurred identity thinking:


  • I have difficulty describing who I really am independent of how other people see me.
  • I do not have a clear sense of myself.
  • I am not sure that I have strong needs or values outside of taking care of other people and making them happy.
  • Sometimes I just feel invisible.
  • I often feel that my identity is absorbed from the beliefs, traits, and values of other people in my life.


How to Correct a Blurry Sense of Identity


Debugging Guidelines:  Allowing your identity to remain out of focus will keep you trapped in a vicious cycle of vulnerability to and victimization by manipulation.  Correcting soft-target thinking in this area is a matter of asking and answering self-defining “Who am I?” questions.


  • How do I see myself?  Compose a self-concept word picture using 20 nouns, adjectives, or short phrases.
  • What are my personal boundaries?  How are you similar and how are you different from your spouse or romantic partner, member of your family, friends, coworkers, and other significant people in your life?  Compare and contrast your needs, personality styles, and character strengths and weaknesses with at least three others.
  • What are my core values?  What moral or ethical principles are most important to you?  What political, social, or cultural attitudes do you hold with conviction and/or passion?
  • What are my spiritual beliefs?  What is your religious faith?  How would you describe your personal spirituality?
  • With whom am I bonded?  What people or relationships form your strongest emotional attachments?  What relationships define your deepest bonds with others?
  • What are my dreams and goals?  What motivates you?  What goals give your lfie a sense of mission or purpose?


Gleaned from Al-Anon Literature:


Canceling plans and staying home to avoid the consequences of “defying” the alcoholic is another form of self-abandonment and has nothing to do with love.  Love is nourishing.  It allows each of us to be more fully ourselves.  The enmeshment that characterizes an alcoholic relationship does just the opposite.


It is entirely up to us to determine what is acceptable to us and what is not.  Personal limit:  I will leave the party if I feel uncomfortable around other people’s drinking.

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