Personal Growth: On Deepening Your Relationship with Your Self
“God sleeps in stones,breathes in plants, dreams in animals, and awakens in human beings.” Hindu saying
Taking the inward journey to discover who and how we are is one of the most challenging but rewarding journeys we can have in life. Learning and understanding our habits of self talk – what we say to ourselves hundreds of times a day, the bad and good chatter; uncovering and facing the parts that we’d prefer not to admit to (but finally do); and celebrating the parts of us that we like, enjoy, and are proud of – in other words, knowing and honouring the whole of us.
With more than 20 years working with clients in my clinic, a relationship protocol has evolved that starts with knowing and understanding what is important to us because all relationships start with us. We take ourselves everywhere we go, so we need to know who and how we are so we can build loving, kind relationships that last, as friends, lovers, family, and colleagues.
One way to start the journey is by knowing what your life values are. What is important to you? These beliefs and values are the bedrock on which you stand; they form your character, your boundaries, and your life. In my book, The Third Circle Protocol, I show the reader how to dig deeply and find out what’s important for them through living their values, understanding priorities, and engaging their activities towards homeostasis.
Come with me on this journey of self discovery. Let’s start with listing our values, maybe six or eight ideas of what’s important in life for us. For me, it’s: 1) kindness; 2) to be heard; 3) laughter; 4) friends and family; and 5) beauty. Your turn now – consider things like respect, community, music, good food, creativity, reliability, empathy, social service, self growth, career, faith, and ambition. Whatever works for you, is right for you. So take those six or so values you believe are important for yourself, list them on a piece of paper (not the computer), and ask yourself, “Do I do this, or am I this, for myself?”
As I look at my values, I ask: 1) Am I kind to myself? The answer is, mostly but not always; 2) Do I make sure I work and play in spaces where my voice can be heard? Yes. I’m no longer involved in the corporate world where that was very difficult; 3) Do I make sure I have laughter in my days? Absolutely; 4) Do I surround myself with loving friends and family? Yes, and no. So that needs work; 5) Do I surround myself with beauty? Yes. I love my home and make sure I go to art galleries, theatre, and outside to see nature’s beauty and celebrate it. OK, those are mine. Now let’s look at yours.
The purpose of this exercise is for you to be clear about where you’re connecting with life and where you’re missing out. Because even though we may gloss over and ignore our soul needs, there’s a part of us that always knows, and our self-esteem plummets and our plans for growth and love get sidetracked and we can get stuck in life. Once you articulate your values to yourself, and look to see if you are living them, then you know where you might need to do some work to move forward. So take the time now to write down your values, and see if you are living them for yourself. If you are, give them a tick, if not, make an X beside that one. The very least this exercise does is make you aware of what needs attention, and the best scenario is, of course, that you get help to make the changes.
Once you make these changes and live your values, this becomes the platform on which you stand, your character, and people instinctively know your boundaries. You feel whole and comfortable in your skin.
To move forward with purpose, you now need to work on the second step of your personal plan of connection. And that means articulating your priorities for the next four to six months. We often wander through life letting one day unfold into the next day and wonder where the weeks, months, and years went. If you live your life with purpose and choice, life become more pleasurable because you’re choosing life, it’s not choosing you! Now this doesn’t mean you fill every moment of every day doing something. It means that you consciously and consistently choose how you spend your time towards whatever you wish. A goal. Peace of mind. A healthier body. Whatever. You’re making the choice, you are taking your power back and choosing to: A) do nothing for a day; B) learn to sail; C) watch TV for the evening; D) finish the painting/book/online course/etc that you started.
Taking this inward journey with purpose allows us to live a spiritual life in a way that gives us the space to do what we came here to do. To live and love fully and completely, starting with self first. This is the most important relationship because without that, it becomes almost impossible to live and love others. Namaste.