Discovering ourselves is a lifelong process, but the most important step is learning to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes being fully honest doesn’t come easily, so we have to put a little work in to get there. Here are a few things to acknowledge to get started:
Your Inner Voice
We all have one, so give yourself the time and space to listen to it. Is it kind? Is it honest? Does it motivate you? Does it spend more time in the positive or negative? Ultimately, you want your inner voice to talk to you the same way you’d talk to someone you care about. Take notice of departures from this and pause to acknowledge the thought and pause to reflect on what caused these unhelpful thoughts.
Your Strengths and Weaknesses
First, remember that strengths and weaknesses are just that – strengths and weaknesses. We all have them and neither increases nor decreases your self-worth. However, knowing what yours are allow you to use your strengths wisely, as well as either acknowledge where you need help or consider where your time might be best spent on self-improvement.
Your Passions and Pitfalls
What feeds your soul? What kinds of things do you look forward to? What about things that cause you stress or simply make you unhappy? How much time do you spend on both? How can you tip the scale so that you are spending time on your passions instead of those things that drain you? Stumped on how to make that change? Talk to others and put your mission out into the universe. It may take some time and effort, and possibly some sacrifices, but the payoff for your mental health can be great.
Feedback from People You Trust
Take these exercises and share your thoughts with people close to you that can give you honest and respectful feedback. Maybe they see more strengths than you recognize in yourself or can share when they see your eyes light up. But don’t succumb to the temptation to only hear the good. Encourage them to be honest about whether your assessment of your weaknesses and sources of unhappiness matches what they’ve observed.
Remember that self-awareness doesn’t happen overnight but committing to knowing yourself is an investment worth making.
Further reading and tools: