Have you ever wondered, who am I? who am I really? It seems like such a simple thing but when you take the time to think about it, we often spend much of our lives not truly knowing ourselves. In this article we’ll exploring why it can be so difficult and how to begin the process of self-exploitation and acceptance.
Getting to a place in your life where you truly feel like you know and understand yourself can take a long time. But why is that? One of the reasons we find it so challenging is because for a large part of our lives we may find ourselves receiving labels from others. In school you may find yourself being labelled by teachers as shy, perhaps your parents made you feel like you were the wild child or an ex-partner that constantly told you that you were stubborn and difficult.
Sometimes we gather these labels and carry them with us without question. We start to believe these things about us rather than investigate them. The problem here is that some of these labels aren’t your truth, rather they’re an outside interpretation of you. It’s important to recognise this because some of these labels carry shame, guilt and can impact our self-esteem.
Another reason it can be challenging to truly know who you are, is the pressure to fit a certain ideal. It is common for many of us to feel pressure; pressure to conform, to impress and to live up to expectations. When trying to explore yourself, this kind of pressure hinders every move. You may find yourself exhausted from putting on a façade and you may notice a yearning to isolate, simply to escape that never ending task of being ‘perfect’.
Lastly, self-exploration and acceptance takes time and patience, many of us find it falling to the wayside with the franticness of life. We begin living a life without stopping to think if this is truly who we are and what we really want. This can lead to feelings of regret, depression, and sense of longing.
So how does one begin the process of truly getting to know themselves? Firstly, allow yourself to question the labels that you’ve been carrying. Am I really highly-strung or was that just a very stressful time of my life? Am I really shy or do I just need time to warm up in a crowd? Where did this label on myself come from and is it my truth? These kinds of questions allow for exploration and opportunity, the opportunity to grow and develop. When we simply accept the labels that others have given us it takes that opportunity away.
Secondly, remove the pressure. If you find you’re trying to emulate someone else or be some perfect version of who you think you should be, its unhealthy and unsustainable. Lastly, understanding it takes time. Like getting to know a new friend, there needs to be patience and curiosity. Journaling can help you explore your thoughts and examine them in different moments, trying new things can give you the opportunity to explore different parts of yourself and, of course, therapy can help you gather greater insights into parts of you that you’ve taken for granted.
The more we get to truly know and accept ourselves, the better. It allows you to love yourself for who you really are and develop the parts of you that have been ignored for so long. The sooner you start that journey of discovery – the better.
The article is written by Lauren, Trainee Counsellor at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.