(This is the last post of a three-part series of posts on self-care and first appeared on the author’s website aninditarungta.com)
This last post focusses on self-discovery which is an integral part of taking care of yourself. If you do not really recognise who you are any more, how can you expect that you will be able to accept the person that you are today? Not ten years ago, not twenty, but TODAY. Whether we realise it or not, we are all shaped and moulded by our life experiences and we are constantly changing. This is nothing to be scared of as it is a completely natural process; on the other hand, it is something to embrace!
Without this self-awareness and self-acceptance, we rarely find the strength to prioritise self-care. As you go on a journey to rediscover yourself, you start becoming comfortable in your own skin and learn to show up as you are, without feeling the need to don any masks.
“As you become familiar with yourself once again, you may find within yourself what you have been seeking from others”
In many ways, this has been the most important lesson that life has taught me over the recent years of my struggle. I have had to confront the reality of who I am and initially, I had trouble accepting those parts of me that did not live up to my expectations. For me, it was a combination of expectations around what I SHOULD have achieved in terms of my professional life and my feelings of GUILT around my daughter’s health issues (whether it was justified or not is not the point). It will be different for everyone as we all have our own demons.
But, over time as I have consciously spent time with myself in different ways (solo breaks, meditation, relaxation) I have learned to accept myself as I would another person.
I have learned to forgive my imperfections and embrace who I have become and what I stand for and be proud of it. Isn’t it wonderful and liberating at the same time to become comfortable in your own skin? I invite you to do the same!
This means that you may need to
get over the fear of really connecting with yourself even if it means facing those parts of yourself that you are not comfortable with; these are usually our feelings of fear around shame and unworthiness. Please show yourself the same love and compassion much as you would a child or someone who is hurting, maybe these hidden and neglected parts of you have been waiting for your attention all this while
say “no” to situations and people that don’t serve you well at this time; this also makes it easier to say “yes” to those things that really matter in your life and you would like to pursue
find a meditation practice that will help you to practice paying attention; attention to your life, your body and your relationships with everything around you. Being mindful helps you to take part in your life fully and accept all feelings of joy, gratitude, anger, shame and love without any judgement
let go of expectations as you start on this journey of self-discovery; you may even feel the need to forgive and many times you may find that the person you need to forgive the most is yourself
become curious about your likes and dislikes; when was the last time you did something that you TRULY enjoyed doing and not because you had to do it or it was expected of you? Do you still enjoy hobbies, activities and even play like you used to? Find out what your likes and dislikes are at this point in your life by trying out different things
find a way to recognise your strengths so that you can consciously and effectively use them to enhance your life and overcome challenges; (you can use the “best possible self” narrative or even a survey like the VIA character strengths- I will be writing more on this in another post)
meet yourself with a sense of humour; everything in life does not need to be an emergency, you may need to learn to laugh at yourself or at situations at various points in time
explore the reasons behind your need to be “busy” at all times; is there something that you are trying to avoid facing in your life?
As you get to know yourself, you may also realise that
you are “whole” and worthy of being loved just as you are
the love that you desperately seek is right there deep inside of you. And as you start accepting yourself unconditionally, the craving for respect and approval that you seek from others loses its hold over you and social media becomes just another tool for connection and nothing more
your self-worth is not linked to anyone else or any external circumstances (which are usually not in your control); it has been there with you all along, you just needed to find it
you are and always will be a unique “work-in-progress” and that’s ok; so is everyone else! The “perfect” body/job/partner is an illusion that we need to recognise and face up to
With time, the compassion that you show for yourself can turn into unconditional self-acceptance. With this, we realise that most of the times, we need to find the strength to simply show up and be ourselves and know that IT IS ENOUGH. When this happens, we feel connected to ourselves and to everyone else in a way that ultimately gives our life meaning and helps us find our purpose.
As we become comfortable with who we are, we turn outwards because we feel that we are a part of a bigger whole; a realisation that makes us stop feeling isolated and lonely. This is a liberating and joyous realisation and makes life truly worth celebrating. This feeling of being connected to ourselves and others can help us in many different ways. We can find the strength to focus on healing ourselves in more ways than one even if our condition is beyond a “cure”. And sometimes, we may find that through our own struggles and pain, we can ease the pain of others.
So I invite you to join me on a journey towards self-discovery. And if you have a need for it, this path that will ultimately lead you towards self-care and healing.
(I would love to hear your thoughts on this and the ONE way that you have decided to embark on this journey of self-discovery. Please share in the comments section below)