Updated: Aug 18, 2021
There has been significant talk about understanding ones own self. The funny thing is, most of us do not really truly understand who we really are. This is because it means looking at areas of our life that are painful, areas we do not like or areas that are out of our conscious awareness. The crazy thing is that until we go through that process, we will not gain a true understanding of who we really are. Nor the peace that loving and accepting ourselves brings.
Many people may say that they have engaged in this process and looked at those pain points in their lives, which I commend you for. As a therapist and counselor, I thought that I had done the same thing, but it was not until I started listening to other counselors and therapist and going through their classes that I truly understood that this is a process. What I thought I knew about myself was actually only a very small part. Through these steps of classes, counseling and reading I began to see more of the real me, and it was painful. However, the results of what comes after the pain is worth it.
Over the next months we will be taking an in-depth look at how to "know ourselves" in a new way and to accept ourselves in a nonjudgmental, healthy manner. This is what is meant by Clarification of Self. To begin this journey and process, make a written list of "Who Am I". With out reservation of guilt or self judgment, identify what makes you you. Start off simply by identifying what it is that you like to do and what brings you happiness. Then identify what brings you sadness, and heartache. Then start to move into more difficult areas of your life such as "what secret desires do I have that I do not want anyone to know about". "Does my current employment bring me satisfaction or is it just a job". "Am I working but would rather be home with my children?" "Do I feel stuck in a situation that I feel I have little power to change?" More importantly, am I willing, or do I fell like I have the power, to change the situation to something that would be more fulfilling. Explain why or why not. This can be very scary, especially if you are the bread winner in the family, or the stay at home parent that has unfulfilled needs, and a change in employment or child care will impact not just you but your children and spouse. Many have already dedicated significant time into a career or dedicated significant time and money into education preparing for a career. Changing your mind may mean facing the fact that you have spent significant time and energy pursuing a path that does not fulfil you like you thought it would. Recognize that by identifying and clarifying yourself does not mean that you have to make changes today, but that it can help you make a plan that brings happiness and satisfaction for the future.
Probably the scariest parts of self clarification are identifying the hidden or avoided parts of our lives. Do this by asking questions like "in what ways am I entitled". "What ways do I play the victim role". "in what ways do I either one up or one down those around me, especially my spouse or close family members". "How do I look to others to validate my beliefs and my action". This one can be especially difficult. We all want validation, but it is not other people who are responsible to give that to us. We are responsible to be good enough with ourselves to provide validation for ourselves.
This is a good start. The more you write and really truly look at these areas of your life the more you will see who you really are. The more you take accountability for who you are the more peace you will have in your life, as well as begin to rebuild happiness in your life. If you are really wanting to get deep with yourself make an appointment and talk to a counselor about these questions. Also recognize that as we continue down this road, your self clarification will grow and deepen as you learn more about how to rediscover your happiness.