Many of us go through life achieving various goals, experiencing fulfilment at many points and partaking in various relationships. But, with a small, yet constantly present, wound which prevents us from living ‘true happiness’. We don’t quite know who we are. I’m not referring to the trivial banalities of knowing one’s name, or date of birth. We’re unsure of what we are worth or we don’t have a secure sense of our morals.
Whenever I try to talk to people about self-reflection, I lose them before the conversation has even began. I’m met with barriers such as: ‘I’m not hipster enough for this sort of activity’ or ‘I don’t have the time or privilege to look inwards’. But, understanding a partner or a friend is an ideology that is fed to us from a young age. Our insecurity of not developing meaningful relationships means that we invest all of our time into the people around us. The fear of not finding ‘the one’ or not being popular or liked has been magnified, now more than ever, with social medias such as Instagram. Lacking an independent verdict means we are unnaturally hungry for external praise, which is why we seek affirmation from external sources. Why have we normalised knowing everything about everyone else, but to know yourself to be a ‘privilege’, only something that we do for leisure? The ironic truth is; good relationships begin with yourself.
“The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.” (Toni Collette)
We all seek satisfying relationships and this is no surprise as these are the foundations for success in all areas of our lives. But, learning to love and care for your needs first is imperative if there is to be any success in those relationships. How you treat yourself is how you will treat others. It’s a good idea to start adopting a method of checking in with yourself and developing a relationship whereby you constantly are examining that what you are doing in life is still fulfilling and meeting the requirements as you intended. Constantly question yourself and find out why you like the things you do. In my opinion, a thought is never isolated from its environment, hence it could be your surroundings pushing what they deem as ‘right’ onto you. Analysing and questioning will teach you how to be your authentic self and potentially help to relieve yourself of the pressures of society.
Knowing you and what works for you is a form of self-care. You are the one person in your life who is your partner in everything that you do, you have to remember to constantly nurture that relationship with yourself, as you would do with your best friend. Do not subject yourself to environments, perspectives, relationships and other commitments that disempower you and do not fit with your moral stance. Doing so would be disrespectful to your best friend, you. It would relay the message that you do not care about your inner-self, causing internal conflict. If certain relationships in your life are severed as a result, then it’s your job to create connections that you find mutually fulfilling. This doesn’t mean just be friends with people who have the same opinions as you, this could get quite boring. It just means find people who respect you just as much as you respect yourself.
Unfortunately, fulfilling relationships will have to be put on hold since lockdown 2.0 has hit us. We are approaching the cold winter months, people are losing their jobs left right and centre, businesses are barely surviving and our favourite restaurants are closing on us when we need them the most. Its grim out here right now and it’s enough to make the happiest person alive lose their shit. It’s in these dark times, quite literally, that we can learn most about ourselves and it’s a time where knowing yourself is most helpful.
It’s in times of crisis where you can use knowing yourself to your advantage. Knowing what puts you in a good mood, what your hobbies are and how you best relax can help you get through this period. I like to ‘diagnose’ my feelings, what I mean by this is to understand why I’m feeling the way I am. The more in tune you are with yourself the more likely you are to point towards what is making you feel sad or happy. This can lead you to a solution when facing a problem or at least help you process how you are feeling without relying on someone else to bring your spirits up. Especially because lockdown means we won’t be interacting with friends and loved ones as usual. We can all use these weeks of lockdown as a training period to delve in deeper and really observe ourselves. A period of meditation and self-care.
Below is a list of questions you can ask yourself to get to know you a bit better. The beautiful thing about self-reflection is you will realise that your answers to these questions will change throughout time as you evolve as a person and grow.
- Is it more important to be loved or to love?
- Which is worse; failing or never trying? How does the answer to this relate to you specifically?
- To what degree have I actually controlled the course of my life?
- What am I doing about the things that matter most in my life?
- What worries me most about the future? Why?
- What’s one thing I’d like others to remember about me at the end of my life?
- What have I given up on?
- Am I holding onto something that I need to let go of?
Without the power of knowing who you are, anyone can decide that you are worthless or bad and there will be nothing inside of us to threaten this judgement. This can be dangerous and toxic, it will lead to us just accepting what people say and think of us which can lead to harmful relationships. We will constantly be asking others what we are worthy of before looking inside for an answer as we lack an identity.
The good news is; you can start the process of self-reflection at any point. It will bring about inner peace, better decision making skills that help you align your choices with what you feel inside, will stop the hunger for audience approval and help you have better relationships overall.
Take care and be safe x