Is it your partner? Your best friend? Your sister? Or someone else in your family? Your child perhaps?
Or is your answer “myself”? If not, why not? Would that seem narcissistic and self-obsessed? Are you scared to consider it might be you because there is so much you don’t like about yourself? Or do you simply not spend enough time with yourself to really know yourself?
We owe it to ourselves and to those around us to know ourselves well. Knowing yourself includes having an understanding of what your values are, what motivates you, what upsets you, what draws you to people, how you like to spend your time and what your strengths and weaknesses are. By understanding these things, you can speak and behave in a way that is well regulated and self-directed; that is congruent and authentic. Which in turn is likely to bring you greater happiness, fulfillment and inner calm. And the people around you – your family, friends and colleagues – also benefit.
So what can you do to improve your self-knowledge? Well you could take some time to consider and even write down your values, interests, and weaknesses and strengths. But these proactive and well-intentioned actions using the conscious mind can only go so far in teaching you about yourself. Much of your truth and authenticity is held within the unconscious mind, in memories and experiences many of which you have been storing since you were an infant and even in utero. And the unconscious mind does not simply give up its treasure because the conscious mind wills it to.
One of the easiest and most direct ways that you can employ to access your unconscious mind is through creative expression and play, e.g. drawing, dance, sculpting clay, writing poetry, crafting, etc. As well as being satisfying and having a calming effect, expressing yourself creatively gives you a chance to discover lost and neglected resources, strengths and impulses in yourself. If you can acknowledge and accept these parts of yourself, they become integrated into your personal repertoire of thoughts, feelings and behaviours and can lead you to have a more positive sense of yourself and the external world.
Who wouldn’t want to feel better about themselves? So give yourself permission to indulge in some creative time today! I’m off to spend some time planning my “5 Elements Garden”. What about you?