Psychologist and author Mary Pipher (author of the megabestselling book Reviving Ophelia) says girls are raised to look for praise and rewards from others instead of learning internal validation. Pipher says:

The most important question for every client is ‘Who are you?’

Pipher continues: I am not as interested in an answer as I am in teaching a process that the girl can use for the rest of her life.

The process involves looking within to find a true core of self, acknowledging unique gifts, accepting feelings, not just the socially acceptable ones, and making deep and firm decisions about values and meaning.

The process includes knowing the difference between thinking and feeling, between immediate gratification and long-term goals, and between her own voice and the voice of others….

I often use the North Star as a metaphor.

I tell clients, ‘You are in a boat that is being tossed around by the winds of the world. The voices of your parents, your teachers, your friends and the media can blow you east, then west, then back again. To stay on course you must follow you own North Star, your sense of who you truly are. Only by orienting north can you keep from being blown all over the sea.’”

 

How do you know when you have developed a strong sense of self?

For me it happened when I got to tell my story to a safe mentor, grieved and got mad, when love was reflected back to me, and my depression and anxiety went away.


Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."