Getting It Back

This is an article that I wrote as a guest blogger for Gilda Evans in April 2014. In today’s busy world, it is easy to lose oneself…to get so caught up in daily activites or the lives of others, that we forget what is most important – ourselves! A strong sense of self will guide you down life’s pathway to your goals and give you the strength and resilience to be available to others in a loving, healthy way.

The relationship with yourself is the most important one you’ll ever have. At birth, we know nothing other than to be our true selves and have little awareness of our surroundings as we begin to bond with those who care for us. Soon, however, we slowly begin to learn that we are not the center of the universe—that all of our actions are not acceptable and that not all of our desires get fulfilled.

Our self-image is gradually molded during our formative years. In childhood, parental demands and expectations begin to chip away at our self-concept. When we become teenagers, the desire to fit in often supersedes our desire and ability to be our true self. Some of us spend a lifetime trying to reclaim this birthright—the ability to be genuinely ourselves and to feel good about it.

Getting it back means taking a good look at yourself, pros and cons, and fully accepting “you” exactly the way you are. Recognize that you don’t need anyone or anything else to make you whole. Of course, this is easier said than done because we do need to have relationships with others. Too often, however, these relationships take too much away from us, and we lose more even of ourselves.

A healthy relationship is one in which two individuals, who are whole and complete in themselves, come together to delight and share in each other’s lives. These relationships are honest, supportive and loving whether they be friendship or romance. The fact is that you cannot be in this type of relationship fully with another until you first have it with yourself.

For those who need a little help, here are some tips to get you there:

1. Buy a journal or notebook and begin to write about your hopes and dreams, your feelings, your experiences during the day, etc. This is an excellent way to get to know and understand yourself better. You might even try writing a few love notes to yourself.

2. Make a list of your pros and cons without judging. Accept that this is the way you are and begin to love yourself unconditionally. Everyone else has their own pros and cons—no one is perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others; no one is better or less than another, just different.

3. Take note of what makes you unique and different from others you know. This is the treasure that you are meant to give to the world. Focus on developing and sharing more of your special qualities.

4. Take five minutes a day to look at yourself in the mirror and say positive affirmations such as, “I love and accept myself just the way I am.”

5. Remember to treat yourself as kindly and lovingly as you do the person whom you love the most. Take time out to be good to yourself. Make a date with yourself to do or buy something special.

Do You Live Your Truth?

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

—— Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3

These words of Polonius have stayed with me since I first read them at age fifteen. But it’s hard, isn’t it, to be true to yourself as a teen when the urge is to conform? We come into this life fully being ourselves and then lose who we are under the parental guidance of early childhood and the peer pressure of adolescence. At least most of us do, and I was no different. I always knew, though, that I felt happiest when I allowed my inner light to shine on my own uniqueness.

As the years go by, many of us become more familiar with our true selves. Perhaps we have grown more confident because we’ve found recognition and success in using our natural talents or skills. Or, it might be because we’re fortunate to have solid emotional support from close family or friends with whom we’ve dared to share our deepest thoughts or craziest ideas. Regardless, they still love us. Best of all, maybe it’s because we’ve learned to genuinely love, as well as like, ourselves. It simply feels good when you know you are saying, acting or writing in a way that is an honest reflection of your true self, doesn’t it?

As a therapist and social worker, I‘ve come across many adults from all walks of life who worry too much about what others think of them. Perhaps they are still trying too hard to please a parent or a spouse. Maybe it’s a writer who hesitates to write about controversial issues or an actor or musician who denies some of their creativity and presents himself or herself in a way they believe will be most approving to their audience. It’s more important to play to your soul than to your audience. Ignore the negativity that haunts the internet, the press and the chatter from those who are not capable of understanding you. You will touch those who are meant to find you in very meaningful ways.

If you have trouble connecting with your real self, take a little time to meditate, listen to your favorite music, or simply enjoy nature. That relaxing glow you feel after a glass of wine takes you right there also and is a good time to write down your thoughts or feelings. Journaling daily, with or without the wine, is another pathway. For others, the joy of a religious experience puts them in touch with that deepest part of themselves.

True success lies in living your truth, whatever it is, both professionally and personally. This doesn’t necessarily mean achieving a worldly measure of success, but rather success in the eyes of your soul. It means being open and honest with others to the extent you possibly can. If you can allow your real self to consistently express freely, you will undoubtedly find peace in your life because you have become who you were born to be. You are accomplishing your goal by doing the work you are best suited for and touching others’ lives in very special ways. Your soul will applaud you.