When I was a little girl, my mom said I was very decisive. I always seemed to know what I wanted and what I didn’t want. Although some parents may call this “stubborn”, my mom liked to call it the “early signs of leadership” and knowing myself. At an early age, I seemed to know the importance of knowing who I was and forming a relationship with myself. According to clinical psychologist and child development expert Gordon Neufeld, I was developing an independent core to self-esteem and sense of viability as a separate person (Hold On to Your Kids, p. 250).
I did have this “inner knowing of myself” from the time I was little and, even though I have gone through many periods of doubt and uncertainty about who I am and who I wanted to be, I have always returned to this inner conviction that I know who I am and I will make time to discover and rediscover myself, as I change. It’s like I decided a long time ago (without having read the research) that I would try to have self-belief, self-worth, and self-acceptance, regardless of what others think of me.
Knowing who you are is the foundation to healthy self-esteem and this definitely takes time and practice – time spent wondering about yourself and being curious about your inner qualities and practicing knowing who you are and acting according to your core beliefs and values. These are not easy tasks but they are valuable ones!
It seems to me that girls today are spending less time figuring out who they are and more time with friends and social media. And this means there is less time to truly figure out what matters most to them. Too much time spent with other people and doing other things, without first knowing who we are, can lead to becoming like other people and following the ways of the crowd without truly knowing what is right for you. Without first knowing who you are and what matters most to us, we are likely to compromise our values and beliefs to fit in with others.
Knowing yourself is a huge priority because when we know ourselves, we become clear about who we are, what we stand for, what we will and will not do, who we want to spend time with and, ultimately, what we want most out of our lives. When you have a clear sense of self, you become less vulnerable to negative peer pressures and making unhealthy decisions. You also become less likely to fill any “void” you may feel with obsessions such as diet and exercise, use of technology, or unhealthy relationships. When you know yourself, you don’t spend your time searching for what you feel is missing inside of you. I’d say knowing ourselves is the foundation to being happy and healthy.
Here are some ideas for getting to know yourself:
- Make time for YOU
- Ask yourself questions such as: How am I feeling today? What am I thinking about? How am I feeling about my body? What do I like to do? What are my favourite subjects and activities? What do I dream about? What do I dislike? If I had a day off, what would I want to do all day long? What are my special skills and talents? What do I want to learn more about?
- Identify the words that describe you – can you name 5?
- Consider your hopes and dreams
- Explore different activities and learn what you like best
Knowing yourself truly is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Knowing who you are begins with the belief that you have value and that you are worth knowing!