Befriending Myself: A Journey to Self-Discovery
I was staring at the paper… I did not know what to write.
We were given very simple instructions: “Write down 5 goals you have for yourself. These cannot involve your career, friends, or family.”
Time was up and my page was still blank. I could not think of a single goal.
That day completely shifted my mindset. I realized that I had all the luxuries I had always wanted – a good career, a loving family, a nice house…etc. However, somewhere along the way of achieving all of these goals, I wasn’t sure if I had lost myself. Do I really know what I want? Although I am happily surrounded by my family and friends, can I replicate that happiness in solitude? I realized that somewhere along the way, I had forgotten about my relationship with myself.
Looking back, the culture and society in which I was raised played a big role in creating this mindset. I was taught that I needed to always put others before myself. We were told to listen to our parents, work for our children’s future, prioritize those around us…etc. This mindset made me think that prioritizing myself was selfish. However, I realize now that there is nothing wrong with loving others or taking care of others but no one should lose themselves in the process.
This was where my journey of self-discovery began…
Below, I have listed a few steps that have helped me pave the path for this journey. I hope they help you too.
1. Do Not Outsource Your Happiness:
I have learned to be responsible for my own happiness. I may not have control over a situation, but I do have control over my reaction to it. I have stopped giving others the power to govern my life. I do not wait for others to praise, encourage, or value me. I do it for myself before anyone else. I believe in myself and do not need anyone else approval.
I have also learned to reduce my expectations from others and from myself because expectations are at the crux of disappointment. A study shows that people who have low expectations are more satisfied with their lives.
“Sometimes we create our own heartbreaks through expectations.” – unknown
2. Don’t Give Importance to the Opinions of Others
There was a time when the opinions that others held of me really mattered to me. But now, I have understood that it is not possible to make everyone happy. Some people live with conditioned mindsets and you cannot change their biased perspective, no matter what you do. So, for the sake of your mental health, develop a “don’t care” attitude and shake it off.
“You can’t please everyone. Similarly, you can’t shut up everyone.
No matter how good you are doing or through what circumstances you are going,
there will always be a group of people who will hate your moves.
Just ignore them.” – unknown
3. Stay away from negativity:
“Forget and forgive” should be your motto if you love yourself. It is one of the most difficult steps to follow, but it is also the most important one. I know it sounds cliché, but trust me, it has incredible power to increase your overall happiness and satisfaction with life.
Negative thoughts are like junk food for the mind and you must stay away from them if you want to be mentally healthy. I’ve understood that your physical and mental health is equally important for your well-being. If you want some useful tips on how to take care of mental health during a pandemic, check out this article.
“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult.
You may be given a cactus,
but you don’t have to sit on it.”
– Joyce Meyer
Once I started observing my negative thought patterns, I was able to control them and reduce the negative emotions that were being derived from them. It’s also equally important to identify the negative people in your life – the ones who do not value your emotions or your time. Figure out who these people are in your life and stay away from them.
“Life is short
don’t waste it with negative people who
don’t appreciate you
keep them in your heart
but keep them out of your life.”
4. Live in the Present
Sometimes we are so busy living in the past and in the future that the present slips away from between our fingers. Now I make sure to not miss the tiny moments of joy in my present – I cherish every single one of them. Your past becomes a lot more beautiful when you protect it from being contaminated by negative experiences of the past or fears of the future. Instead, we should use our memories to strengthen the present by remembering only happy and positive experiences from the past. Every day is a new reason to be happy.
“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”
-Thomas S. Monson
5. Love, Love and Love Yourself:
Everyone of us is God’s unique creation! We must accept ourselves the way we are and learn to be happy with what we have. Life is very precious, and I’ve learned to be grateful for every ounce of it.
I believe that no one is accountable for my happiness except for myself. So, now I have become more appreciative of myself. If I do something exceptionally good, I reward myself with a nice gift – why wait for others? I also give compliments and positive affirmations to myself from time to time – no need to be my own critic. And of course, I practise self-care by treating myself to a nice spa treatment, a massage or just by curling up by the fireplace with a good book and a hot coffee.
I make sure that I spend some time with myself every day. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have never thought that I would be able to take out of my busy schedule to start blogging. With this creative outlet, I can openly share my thoughts, opinions, and emotions with the world. This has definitely helped me to be more content and satisfied with my life.
“Love yourself. Forgive yourself.
Be true to yourself.
How you treat yourself sets the standard
for how others will treat you.”
– Steve Maraboli
It is nice to be surrounded by family and friends, but sometimes we lose our connection with ourselves. We forget to live in solitude when we were consistently in a crowd. We become more and more emotionally dependent on the external realm for our happiness and cannot find it within ourselves. So, it is necessary for you to spend some quality time with yourself and become your own best friend. Do not let your happiness and peace be affected by the situations and people around you.
A few years ago, when I was asked to write down five goals for myself, I could not think of a single one. Now, I can create a whole list! And slowly but surely, I take some time out every day to work towards achieving the goals on this list.
If I am being honest with you, I haven’t totally mastered the five steps I listed above – it’s still a working progress. However, I always keep them in the front of my mind and consciously ensure that I do not lose my newborn self in that crowd again. Having started this journey to connecting more with myself has already made me a more content and peaceful person. I feel more liberated but also more connected with those around me. It is a new feeling and I am loving it!
My birthday is approaching soon and before anyone else wishes me, I want to wish my new self a “Happy Birthday”.
“Let them judge you.
Let them misunderstand you.
Their opinions aren’t your problem.
You stay kind, committed to love,
and free in your authenticity.
No matter what they do or say,
don’t you dare doubt your worth
or the beauty of your truth.
Just keep on shining as you do.”
– Scott Stabile