September 17th, 2018
Who am I? A question we ask ourselves throughout our lives. The problem becomes when we stop asking that question. Who am I has the potential to turn into “what is wrong with me?” when we go through changes we don’t understand, or feel like we don’t know ourselves. It is important to begin to change your mindset from “what is wrong with me” to “how can I get to know myself?” By getting to know yourself you then can begin to answer and understand what is going on in your life internally and externally. So I bet you're wondering, “how can I get to know myself?” Well, it is not as hard as you may think, but it is a lifelong commitment that changes as you change and your life. What better commitment though then to yourself?
Getting to know yourself is not as difficult as you may think. The difficult part is truly making the time to spend time with yourself and being authentic in that time with yourself. What you do to get to know yourself is a personal journey so you must be intentional when deciding what it is that works for you. For some people, writing in a journal about their days or simply writing random ideas that come into their minds is a way they get to know their inner selves. For others, being in therapy and having a relationship with a therapist is when they can spend time reflecting and getting to know themselves. For some, taking their dog on a long walk and going through their thoughts and reflecting on their day and feelings is a way they get to know themselves, but again that is not for everyone. Find time to reflect on your relationships with colleagues, friends, family, etc. Reflect on the decisions you make and why? What makes you happy? What gives you purpose? What pushes your buttons? Spend time learning about who you are. This kind of reflection shouldn’t happen once a month but as much as possible, preferably daily. It is important to note that during this process, you may learn things about yourself that you don’t like, but that’s okay. You may discover things that in are your life that could be toxic or realize are negatively impacting you. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable things that may come up. This is where the growth occurs. When you can identify why things are a certain way or why you feel a certain way, then you have the power to take the steps to make the change.
After taking the time to discover who are you are and becoming intimate with your thoughts, feelings and ideas it is important to provide yourself with self- compassion. Whether you are struggling with adjusting to a new neighborhood, realizing you may be struggling with depression or feel like your failing as a friend, remember to change your thought process from “what is wrong with me” to “how can I show myself self-compassion.” You may be disappointed in the decisions you have made or unhappy with your current job, but lacking self-compassion only makes situations worse, leaving you feeling worse about yourself than before.
Self-compassion is a powerful tool you can use to improve your well-being, self-confidence, and resilience. Many find it easy to have compassion for others but struggle in applying this same kindness to themselves. By taking moments throughout your day to pause and practice self-compassion, you can gradually increase this quality and make it a more regular habit in your life. When you find yourself stressed out in a difficult situation, take a moment to pause. This is called a self-compassion pause. (Adapted from mindfulexercies.com) Reach up and touch your heart, or give yourself a hug if you are comfortable with that. Take a few deep breaths. Acknowledge that you may be having hard feelings and see if you can treat yourself with as much kindness as you would a dear friend or child who was struggling. Offer yourself phrases of compassion, first by acknowledging your difficult feelings or situation:
“This is really painful/difficult right now.” or “Wow, I am really in a hard place right now!”
For the final phrase(s), choose whatever is most appropriate for your situation. Feel free to use any of the following phrases or create your own:
- May I hold myself with compassion.
- May I love and accept myself just as I am.
- May I experience peace.
- May I remember to treat myself with love and kindness.
- May I open to my experience just as it is.
Return to your daily activities, intentionally carrying an attitude of self-compassion and acceptance to your day. The issue is never that you feel like something is wrong with you or you feel that you don’t understand yourself or know yourself. The issue lies when you don’t take the time to answers those questions and make a conscious effort daily to discover who you are and grow from those moments within in yourself.
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