I feel like i am not myself anymore

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What happened to me?

Ever felt that you became a different person?
Every discovered that you became weaker than before?
Do you feel that you are not being yourself anymore?

Such feelings usually arise when you find yourself responding differently to the same problems you used to face. For example, if you never used to give up then suddenly found yourself giving up on something after one failed attempt then you might feel that you are not being yourself anymore.

Now the important question is, what force could change someone that way? In order to understand what might have happened you first need to know how your brain works.

How your brain works

Your brain is formed of a large number of cells and the connections between these cells grow and diminish depending on the types of activities you perform. When you start learning a new skill ,such as driving a car, new connections will grow in your brain between certain cells. (see also How to learn any skill)

If you stopped driving for years then these same connections will start diminishing slowly over the years. In other words your brain is extremely flexible and it changes its structure according to the activities you do.

One of the factors that strongly affects the structure of your brain are the emotions you experience. If your parents always worried a lot about everything then, without realizing, your brain connections will grow to allow you to worry as well.

In other words your brain structure will change to allow you to worry with less effort. This is called hard wiring and in such a case your brain was hard wired for worrying.

I feel like i am not myself anymore

So what does all this has to do with feeling that you are not being yourself?

Lets suppose that you started to lose your temper because of a new stressful change that became a part of your life (a stressful job for example) in such a case your brain structure will slowly change until your brain will become hard wired for anger and as a result you will become a bad tempered person.

After sometime you will realize that you have changed a lot, that you lose your temper all the time and that you become a different person.

Your brain can be hard wired for anxiety, depression, sadness, giving up or even low self esteem. So when you start finding that you are not being yourself anymore know that your brain structure changed.

How to find myself once again?

The good news i have for you is that these brain connections that grew can be changed and your brain can be rewired once again. Here is how you can rewire your brain:

  • 1) Identify the changes: Find out the changes in your behaviour by comparing your current response to problems with your past one. For example if you started losing hope quickly instead of fighting back then write this down
  • 2) Change your behaviour: The one factor that plays the most important role in rewiring the brain connections is your behaviour. If you found yourself feeling like giving up then keep moving even if you don't feel like it. As the time passes your brain will get rewired and that new behaviour will become a part of your normal thinking process (see also How behaviour is learned)
  • 3) Change your thoughts: This part is not easy but its extremely important as well. You need to work on changing your thoughts by resisting the negative ones and recalling the positive ones you used to have before you changed. In our same example pushing away beliefs such as "i will never make it" and replacing it with ones such as "i never used to give up and i will remain that way" will help you in rewiring your brain faster
  • 4) It takes time: Most probably you didn't change overnight and that's why you should never expect to get back to your real self before you spend some time fighting the negative thoughts and the bad habits you developed. The brain rewiring process might take a long time but the good news is that you will keep experiencing small changes as you keep progressing

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