In today’s fast-paced society, there seems to be a double standard. We — as women — are expected to have fabulous careers, impeccable style, rock star spouses, well-behaved children, and still have time to take care of our extended families and friends.
It’s no wonder why many people forget who they really are anymore.
What do others THINK we are if we focus on ourselves for a while? Narcissistic. Mean. Selfish. But in reality, taking time for yourself is absolutely NOT selfish. I often tell patients that you cannot invest in any relationship until you have taken the time to pay attention to yourself first.
Here are 5 ways to take time to focus on yourself find out who you really are (and who cares what anyone else thinks):
1. Start with gratitude.
Thank the universe or whatever spiritual power you believe in for what you have in your life and ask for what you want. If you don’t ask, you very well might not receive.
If you don’t know what to ask, that’s the time you need to learn how to sit in silence. You’ll find the answer — even if it’s not right now. The universe works in very interesting ways.
2. Challenge yourself to go somewhere (sans technology) and sit there.
Have a meal by yourself. People watch. What do others have that you like or want (e.g., family cohesiveness, children, awesome shoes)? What do others have that you could do without?
3. Change it up. Get lost and messy.
Take another route home or tweak your schedule so that you do tasks in a different order. Try an evening yoga class instead of in the morning. Pick a new type of coffee. Download new music you couldn’t imagine picking out for yourself.
See what you think. Life and our identity can become very monotonous if the same routine is followed, and we forget who we even are if we believe we are stuck to the same routine.
4. Meet new, interesting people.
Go on meetup.com or your local city webpage and join a local group so you can interact with different people and be exposed to others’ perspectives. Yes, ‘birds of a feather flock together’ — but always choosing to surround yourself with people who are your mirror image doesn’t often provide a dissenting viewpoint of parts of yourself you might not even know are there.
Example: If my colleague hadn’t pushed me to try barre class (she’s very athletic, and back then I was just getting into shape), I wouldn’t have known how much I would have enjoyed it and we were able to form a deeper bond after she challenged me and in turn, I took her to a meditation workshop (she kept putting it off).
5. Understand that the concept of identity and who we are is fluid and ever-changing.
Write your thoughts in a journal or blog. This way, you can track your own development, points of struggle, and triumph. It can be fun to look back as we often do on photos and memories and wonder why we were so insistent on attending all high school football games when we really didn’t even understand the game; or why we liked someone when they didn’t give us anything but frustration and low self-esteem.
Most of all, patience and understanding with ourselves is key. As long as we can tap in to our intention to self-improve, we should know that we’re exactly where we need to be.
Now go out and find, or rediscover, yourself!