Aristotle once said, it has long been believed that identifying one’s strengths and virtues and using them to guide and reflect one’s life can lead to happiness.
Researchers have shown that our connection with ourselves, which includes self-acceptance and self-care among other things, has an impact on our mental and emotional well-being as well as our relationships with others.
Although everyone has a fundamental understanding of what self-awareness is, we don’t know exactly where it comes from, why we need to develop it, or why some of us seem to have more or less than others.
Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund proposed this definition:
“Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards. If you’re highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behaviour with your values and understand correctly how others perceive you.”
Why is it important to cultivate a relationship with yourself?
Most people go through most of their lives not knowing who they are. The pressure to be a certain way or speak a certain way that we experience from our parents at home and on social media has made us doubt that there’s beauty in being different. We truly live our lives unaware of who we truly are, how to accept and love ourselves, and how to see the beauty in our own reflections.
I have come to learn that having a relationship with yourself is fundamental to a lot of things in our lives, from how we choose to carry ourselves to the decisions we make. This is an important thing to have, but it’s one of those rarely discussed subjects, and most of the time we always put more effort into developing connections with others than we do with ourselves.
Understanding who you are in all aspects of your being allows you to be intentional in the relationships you engage in.
There’s a lot that goes into a relationship with ourselves, it involves self-awareness, a sense of self-acceptance and a sense of self-care, forgiving yourself and just being authentically yourself in a world that vilifies individuality and praises trends.
We are taught how to act, how to behave, and what career is ideal for us before we even understand what those things mean, which frequently causes us to spiral into depression because we are unable to identify the problem.
Psychology claims that there are two distinct kinds of self-awareness – public and private – and what we need to focus on first is one with ourselves, as the saying goes “hurt people hurt others.”
The world will tell you who you are until you accept yourself for who you are, right down to your weaknesses. Adults without a strong sense of self often rely on the opinions, feelings and thoughts of others.
Jacqueline van Rooijen, business owner and personal transformation coach said in a statement shared with IOL Lifestyle that knowing your strengths and weaknesses is essential for personal development. It allows you to focus on your strengths and find ways to leverage them, while also working on your weaknesses to turn them into strengths.
Our journey begins with our decision to accept ourselves for who we are, the good and the bad, just accepting who we are. Accepting yourself for all that you are lacking and everything you are, as well as all of the dynamics and processes involved in building your life, is the first step.
There’s this notion when you talk about self-acceptance and self-awareness that we are changing ourselves for others. That may be partly it, but not all of it. By accepting who we are, we can let go of past traumas and speak or act in ways that are not aligned with who we are.
Occasionally, the environment in which we find ourselves may force us to alter our personality and character, which black people are well acquainted with: code-switching, which scholars describe as the process of switching from one linguistic code to another, depending on the social context.
A Pew Research study found that 48% of black college graduates in America felt the need to change the way they talk around people of other races.
According to experts writing in the Harvard Business Review, code-switching can have a negative influence on mental health and cause burnout due to the “exhausting and demoralising” process of attempting to fit in.
Because we are forced into spaces that require us to “fit in” self-awareness and acceptance bring in a grounding effect. Although I won’t lie spending time with myself, thoughts and everything is often scary but necessary in the end.
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