New Psychologies Magazine out means new 10 question quiz to do for funzies. This month’s topic is all about “What mental shift do you need to thrive?” Through questioning what your core values revolve around, what your default response is when asked how you are, when you feel most contented, what you find hard to make time for, when you feel most like yourself, your go to role within a group, what others think of you, how you react to uncertainty, how you were encouraged as a child and what knocks your self-esteem, the answer to how your mind-set may be holding you back in life is mystically revealed.
For me, the answers were the closest run thing of all the quizzes I’ve done. I had equal numbers of responses to 3 out of the 4 possible groups. I scored the same for self-awareness, self-enquiry and self-acceptance. When I read through the responses, I did identify bits of myself amongst them.
When much of the day is made up of tasks to tick off its natural to look at what has been achieved to construct a sense of self. That might be fine for now but problems arise when what fills the day doesn’t align with core values of offer a sense of meaning. Without self-awareness it’s easy for habit to shape experience of the world and affect connection with yourself. Are you doing too much to numb feelings of disquiet about the direction life is going, or about certain relationships? In answer to the question “who are you”? would you struggle to answer if you couldn’t list what you do? If life feels safe and stable, your gut instinct may tell you to avoid inviting disruption and uncertainty but could you allow a some space for daily stillness and curiosity about the weather pattern inside through mindfulness, yoga or a walk in nature? Just make sure it doesn’t also become a task to be ticked off a list. If it does, reduce it to simply pausing in the day and enquiring with curiosity: how am I reacting to this? what are my thoughts and emotions?
I very much focus on a list of things to do each day. If I get at least three quarters of the way through the list then I’m satisfied. It could include mundane daily things like getting out of bed (sometimes that’s difficult) as well as the actual work that needs doing, or things that need doing for #bellringing stuff I’m working on. I have a To Do list next to my laptop at home and almost every day I add something else to it. I have always found it really hard to think about who I am. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt etc, I’m a manager, a PRO to varying degrees of success or failure. But who am I deep down? No idea. I exist. I do stuff.
Those who are more concerned about the needs of others may find their sense of self is tenuous at times. Do you feel put on the spot when conversations turn to what you want? When your value and identity gets too closely bound with making others happy, your development may suffer. It’s OK if you struggle to define who you are, and you may feel different every day but if the thought of exploring yourself creates unease, it may be that you worry that if you take the time to probe your inner landscape, you’ll find a blank space. Humans are ever changing beings that respond to everything around them, including their relationships. The irony is that improving your relationship with yourself is the most effective way to be there for others. It’s OK to look to others to work out who you are, but if the energy of your key relationships is always focused on gaining approval, you may need to consciously make space for self-enquiry. For many, that means therapy and for others it could be more time spent on creative projects that offer self-expression.
Again, I do find it really hard to think about what I want, what are my passions and desires, what do I want to achieve or become. That changes all the time. One day I want to have my own cake business. Another day I want to be a full time PR person. Another day I want to stay where I am and run projects, or be in charge of a department or function. Another day I don’t want to have to go to work anymore and another day I don’t want to be at home all the time. I can never really answer questions like “what do I enjoy doing” or “what do you find fun”. The thought of therapy appals me. Not that I think it has stigma attached to it, I think it can be extremely useful for some people in certain situations. But I remember how horribly uncomfortable I was when I went to antenatal classes and they tried to the relaxation techniques. If anything, it wound me up more. I was better off left alone. The coaching sessions I’ve had that have asked what I want to achieve I’ve struggled to find an answer to. I don’t know. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I enjoy, I don’t know what I find fun.
When you see yourself as a work in progress, accepting yourself, flaws and all, can feel risky, as if you’ll never reach your potential. But if your self-image is based on not being enough, and your inner narrative hones in on what you see as your faults, you might feel you’ll never flourish. It’s true that the self is dynamic and we all change in response to our environment and the people we interact with, but a sense of self can provide a firm foundation for growth and make us more resilient. The key to allowing yourself to flourish lies in your relationship with yourself. Do you treat yourself in a way that you would never treat anyone else? Sometimes, self-criticism isn’t overt and lurks in seemingly harmless habits such as comparing your life to others on social media. There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow, learn and be your best self, but true personal development starts with self-acceptance. When you start where you are, you face the world without pretence, and show up just as you are. A journey of self-acceptance may take time, but its transformative effects can be life-changing.
I do see myself as a work in progress, and through what I’m beginning to read around and start to experiment with e.g. meditations etc, I am trying to find some inner acceptance of who I am. I know that I’m far from perfect. I do have a sense that I’m never quite good enough. But for who? Sometimes, I just not quite good enough as a wife, or mother, or sister, or daughter or boss, or friend, or leader. I don’t really compare my life to others on social media, I’m quite good at separating someone else’s life from mine. We have different experiences, different situations, different finances and different attitudes to what’s important. I’m not bothered about keeping up with the Jones’.
I guess I still have a lot of questions to ask myself, and need to give myself the freedom to really think about them, not just the superficial stuff on the surface.
One thought on “Today’s Psychology”
I can relate to some of that. I also don’t relish the thought of therapy but maybe because I have no understanding or experience. I also fluctuate between worrying about these issues and then thinking, life’s too short, just crack on, as long as I’m not hurting anyone. And sometimes I think the meaning of life is aptly summed up as ’42’! No easy answers 🤔🤷♀️