To begin the journey of self-exploration it is important to be honest with oneself for you to move forward. (Mary Panwaskar)
When we become adults we forget about how to question life like a child. We form a predictable pattern that has been normalised by society and the media around us. Previously, I have discussed how your upbringing plays a large factor in your perception of yourself and the world around you. There will be the socio-economic aspects, religion, culture and the attitudes and values instilled from your parents. Some of us may have spent a long time submerging our true emotions and it is only when we receive a knockback, a pivotal situation or a health problem arises that we begin questioning ourselves.
It is important to begin internal retrospection honestly with ourselves as you will have to face your deepest darkest fears. When you begin this process you will tread into unfamiliar territory and you will require courage and dedication to work through those emotions.
“There was a moment of enlightenment when the tears came running down my face. For many years I just could not cry. It was like it was an emotion switched off to me. Then the waterworks began and I could not switch them off and I didn’t want to either.” Anon
“Your opinion of yourself becomes your reality. If you have all these doubts, then no one will believe in you, and everything will go wrong. If you think the opposite, the opposite will happen. It’s that simple. The higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and persistent, allowing you to overcome obstacles that stop most people in their tracks.” – Robert Greene
One of many theories that I found relevant and interesting:
To begin the internal retrospection and discovery our full potential it is best to go back to the beginning. I have visited this in a prior entry but on this occasion I wanted to discuss Erik Erikson, a German psychoanalyst influenced by Sigmund Freud. Erikson believed that our personality developed in a series of stages from across our whole lifespan. Erikson was interested in how social interaction and relationships played a role in the development and growth of human beings.
I wanted to bring you the below, as it allows us to view a theory of how humans evolve via the different stages of development in their life. You will be able to see quite clearly that if one or more areas of development from infancy are not fully formed then there can be serious consequences later on in life.
Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development:
|Approximate Age||Virtues||Psychosocial crisis||Significant relationship||Existential question||Examples|
|Infancy||Under 2 years||Hope||Trust vs. Mistrust||Mother||Can I trust the world?||Feeding, abandonment|
|Toddlerhood||2–4 years||Will||Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt||Parents||Is it okay to be me?||Toilet training, clothing themselves|
|Early childhood||5-8 years||Purpose||Initiative vs. Guilt||Family||Is it okay for me to do, move, and act?||Exploring, using tools or making art|
|Middle Childhood||9-12 years||Competence||Industry vs. Inferiority||Neighbours, School||Can I make it in the world of people and things?||School, sports|
|Adolescence||13–19 years||Fidelity||Identity vs. Role Confusion||Peers, Role Model||Who am I? Who can I be?||Social relationships|
|Early adulthood||20–39 years||Love||Intimacy vs. Isolation||Friends, Partners||Can I love?||Romantic relationships|
|Middle Adulthood||40–59 years||Care||Generativity vs. Stagnation||Household, Workmates||Can I make my life count?||Work, parenthood|
|Late Adulthood||60 and above||Wisdom||Ego Integrity vs. Despair||Mankind, My kind||Is it okay to have been me?||Reflection on life|
Taken from Wikipedia
I like Erikson’s theory of development because he describes evolution in a manner of human emotions maturing via age and experiences we have led. He is stating that throughout the phases in our life we experience with the emotions learnt we are eventually becoming completely whole. But this is not possible without living life to beyond the ages of 60 or more if all phases have been experienced in a positive manner. I wanted to highlight the table above because there is a certain complexity in self discovery which begins prior to feeling emotions and asking questions. It is the fundamentals of your development as a human being up until the present day and the previous experiences you have felt to lead you to this decision of fully exploring yourself further.
How do we begin this process?
To be willing to begin the journey you need to be willing to ask your questions that you may or may not like. You may already be at this crossroad and you are already questioning yourself, your emotions, the people around you, how you are perceived and how others perceive you. And many other pertinent questions that will bring on a triad of emotions that may even lead to more questions. This is what will allow you to move forward in your journey of self-discovery.
Exercises you could carry out:
Discover your Eulerian Destiny.
Filling out the Eulerian Destiny circles provokes critical thinking and self-reflection.
Doing this requires you to look at four areas of your life by answering the following questions:
- What did you grow up around?
- What do strangers say about you?
- What have you done for the past 5 to 10 years?
- What can you talk about endlessly and effortlessly for hours?
Take a while to write these things down in four overlapping circles and see where they all meet. This may take time and serious thinking, but it can result in defining and refining your purpose in life. This will provide you with a framework to form your future and a basis of self awareness.
I have recently carried out an exercise called ‘Judge Your Neighbour’ by Katie Byron, which I found to be very useful.
Judge your Neighbour:
- Write it down
- Ask four questions
- Turn it around
Think of a recurring stressful situation, a situation that is reliably stressful even though it may have happened only once and recurs only in your mind. As you answer each of the questions below, allow yourself to mentally revisit the time and place of the stressful occurrence. Use short, simple sentences.
Please fill the link below to be able to complete the worksheet:
Just to conclude the blog entry about self discovery to you all. To fully explore ourselves we need to be willing to be honest with ourselves. We need to explicitly understand that the journey of self discovery could be painful but the end result will be worth it, once we spend the valuable time on ourselves. I wish you the best of luck with your journey of self exploration. I am always to try to guide you through if I can or just offer a smile and some warm words of encouragement.