Do you feel like you are living in survival mode? Like you are reacting to what life throws your way rather than experiencing it on your terms? Do the emotions you portray externally not really match how you feel internally? Do you feel disconnected even though you are fully immersed in responsibilities?
You are not alone. Today, many people wonder when it will be their turn to feel less stress and more happiness. They want to feel in control of their life, confident, and valued.
The good news is that happiness, freedom, control, and success are just a few of the many goals you can realistically achieve. Reaching goals happen in steps, and the first step is to find a deeper understanding of yourself.
Why is Finding a Deeper Understanding of Yourself Important?
You likely understand yourself right now. You know your favorites, the habits you should quit, areas in need of improvement, and people you wish would disappear. But you don’t understand yourself on a deeper level. You can’t answer why your life is the way it is. Until you learn more about yourself, you can’t progress towards your goals.
For example, if you misuse alcohol, you may have tried to quit but couldn’t. It is unhealthy and interferes with work, home, and social relationships. Yet, you can’t stop. That is unless you gain self-knowledge. With the help of a treatment program, you can learn why alcohol affects you differently than others. You can discover why you drink, deal with them, and move towards your goals.
The things you don’t understand about yourself can hold you back. Without self-knowledge, your decision-making skills are limited. You choose the wrong partner, mishandle money, stay in a job you hate, and try to please people you don’t really like. You can change all this and more when you get to know yourself.
How to Get to Know Yourself
Below are some tips on how to get a deeper understanding of yourself.
Compare yourself to your future self
Make a list of the many factors in your life that make you who you are. Examples may include parent, employee, spouse, activist, rock star, artist, and teacher. Write down every role you play. Then, review the list honestly, marking the roles you want to keep. Also, mark those that need improvement and those you haven’t shared. For example, you may see your career as a best-selling novelist, but others see you as your day job, whatever that is right now.
This activity aims to narrow your list until it represents everything you want to happen in your future.
Get to Know Your Needs
Paying attention to your body and mind will help you understand the areas needing repair. Too often, people are so distracted by obligations at work, home, or socially that they put their own needs on the backburner. Anyone misusing substances is not only masking areas in need but creating new ones, like altering brain structure. Getting to know your needs means reducing your use of alcohol or other substances so you can have a clear mind when focusing on the rest of your body. You can do both with the help of local treatment professionals. A clear mind allows you to go beyond recognizing a problem. You can also create a plan and follow through. Working with a therapist who practices mindfulness-based therapies can help you reach this goal.
Interview Yourself About the Hard Stuff
One of the best ways to learn is by asking questions. The more questions you ask yourself, the better. Skip the superficial questions for now and jump ahead to the profound. Questions regarding spiritual beliefs, past traumas, family dynamics, and other topic areas that make you think for a while before answering. Which areas are holding you back? Which ones have you processed, and which ones did you suppress? Explore why these things still affect you and plan for dealing with them properly, preferably with a therapist or support group.
Do you attract the wrong kind of friends and partners? Do you rush into relationships only to be rejected after a few months? Do you think you can fix or change someone? Your relationships reflect your mental health. For example, if your spouse verbally or physically abuses you, your self-esteem will suffer. Pay attention to your communication styles, how you spend time together, and what intimacy means to your relationship. Determine your relationship roles. Are you a giver, fixer, excuse maker, or another role?
Whether it’s a relationship with a friend, family member, or spouse, certain elements help you thrive. Knowing how to resolve conflicts, work as a team, and set and respect healthy boundaries are a few examples. Working with licensed mental health professionals, you can learn how to do all these and more.
The Rewards of Getting to Know Yourself
The rewards you receive when finding a deeper understanding of yourself are internal and empowering. For example, your tendency to want to please everyone will fade. You stop apologizing when it’s unnecessary, making the time you need to say you are wrong or sorry much more meaningful. You start putting your needs first because you realize staying healthy is the only way to be there for others.
Your self-esteem starts rising, and you become less afraid to make mistakes or be embarrassed. You don’t need other people to determine your value because you already know it.
In this journey of understanding yourself, expect change. Embrace change. Even if relationships end or goals change, don’t give up. Help is available to help you make positive changes. Whether it is entering recovery from a substance use disorder, overcoming mental health issues, learning new skills to help you be more mindful or cope with emotions, help is easy to access. You may just want to meet others who can relate to your circumstances. Whatever your reason, reach out today to get started learning more about the most important person in your life, you.