Okay, so you’re sitting there and thinking, I’m ready -it’s time.
Time to work on myself, time to find myself. I’m going to try and find out who I am and fall in love with that person.
But how do you do it? How do you actually work on yourself? And how do you know if working on yourself… is working?
One way Social Psychology discusses working on yourself is building a strong sense of self. This is done by figuring out what your values, beliefs, and truths are. Taking away other peoples’ opinions when it comes to matters you care about and exploring it for yourself in order to gain your own opinion or perception of things, for example – religion. Where do you stand on it, if you were to have a discussion with yourself?
- Stand alone. Living an authentic life although desirable is harder than it sounds and not achieved by many. An authentic life means looking within and becoming self-aware and making decisions based on your life and what’s good for you as supposed to waiting for others to make the decision for you and going with what has worked for others. Especially when it comes to life changing decisions. Getting to know what you actually want, will start a pathway to how to get there. But you have to know what you want.
- Get to know yourself. When you are trying to create a strong sense of self, it is vital to stay in conversation with yourself. How are you feeling? How has something affected you? Making notes of what changes your mood, delving deeper into your habits and the reason for them. But also constantly checking in and observing changes, staying grounded and having a grasp of your thoughts and feelings.
- Embrace challenges. Every challenge is another opportunity for you to see who you are and gives you an opportunity to change who you are. When coming across an adversary, it is a new way to explore all the different ways you can present that are in line with the new you. They also give you an opportunity to explore the new you once you have gone through a challenge and acted in the way that align with your developed sense of self
- Applications are not only for your phone! The real work when it comes to working on yourself is applying everything that you have learned. To stop buying food you don’t like, to not seeing people who leave you feeling uneasy to spending time reading those books you actually want to read to improve your grammar. Every time you make an observation, whether it’s your reaction your thoughts or feelings, its important to write it down, make an action plan to combat or amplify it and then APPLY it. Actions birth new habits.
- Value yourself. There will be no sense of self if you do not value yourself. Value yourself does not necessarily mean you are above others, but it means that you recognise that you are your own person with your own hobbies and passion and you choose to embark on those thing that nourish you over other things. However, valuing yourself does not mean not acknowledging flaws, or that you are above others.
Building a strong sense of self is not easy and will not happen overnight. Subconsciously we have created the person we are through the experiences of life and other learned behaviour. However, intentionally figuring out who you are and who you want to be and making steps towards that is a lifelong project that needs to be worked on a little every day. It’s important to take your time when embarking on this journey. There is no time constraint. It’s better to take your time and sit down with yourself and make a decision, than to rush something and end up regretting it later and having the added baggage of error as well as change. Another important factor to remember is to be kind to yourself. When you observe yourself without judgement, you make better decision as though decisions are not fuelled with disappointment, but rather empathy. Mistakes will happen, inevitable, but again showing compassion in your observation, will produce a better outcome that can be used to better yourself.
Creating a sense of self will not be the same for everyone. For one it may be counseling, for another, it may be self-reflection, for some it may be a reset, however it works for you, there are three contributing factors that need to be addressed self-image (how one view oneself), self-esteem (how one values oneself), and the ideal self (the person one wants to be). This was developed by humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers who worked on the sense of self.
Although having a sense is about the inner and outer self, most of the work starts within and starts with yourself. You have to want to work on yourself. Have to want to change who you are for the better. You have to want it. You also have to be incredibly honest with yourself. The definition of honesty on Google is “free of deceit; truthful and sincere”. What stands out for me there is free of deceit and sincerity.
It’s easier to just prod along when someone else is leading it’s easier for us to just receive information and trust someone to be right because then we don’t have to go and do the research, we don’t have to make the decision, we can just implement and follow. However, this work, which brings about greater joy and inner peace is uncomfortable and hard at first and second. Meaning it gets easier but not straight away.
However, we must also acknowledge that although getting to know yourself and becoming a better version of yourself can defiantly be started by yourself, there are cases and many situations where help is needed in different forms, whether it specialist help or spiritual help and we should not be afraid to seek that help.
Author: Naomi Macanda