Love yo’self series
The first step in learning to love myself, was getting to know myself. To start doing all the things that I enjoy, to go back to my childhood to all those things that I did because I loved them but maybe stopped them because someone judged me for it. To think of things that I like, if no one knew I was doing them. What would I do, if I was completely free of judgement? What would I do if I knew no one would find out?
All these questions to truly find out what makes me tick, without fear of anyone shaming me, or putting my interests down, no fear of not being interesting enough or cool enough or good enough. Just me, figuring out who I am.
Part of this journey, and to gain self-knowledge, meant that I had to start spending time by myself, to figure out who I am, and what I like. It’s almost like dating, you go out with a person, and over a series of outings you learn about who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, and whether or not you are comfortable with this person. And self-knowledge is exactly like that.
You spend some time with yourself. Talk about your past, how you grew up. So with yourself, you think back to your childhood, and who you were, and what energized you and what you were passionate about. What could you do, or talk about, for hours without getting bored.
As a mother of two, with a time-consuming job, it’s not always easy for me to find these moments, but I try and create them where I can. If I have 30 minutes spare on my weekend, I’ll go for coffee by myself, and journal, or colour in. Or if one of my kids has a party, I drop them off, and then use the next two hours to be by myself, and figure her out.
Also, think about what is important to you – just you, whether or not society, your family, and friends will agree with them, or think they are bad or good. None of that is important – it’s just about what is important to you. Later on, you can decide if this is the person you want to be and you can always readjust your values. People are always growing and changing, and while you are on a journey to know yourself, doesn’t mean that who that person is static and unchanging.
Last year, I was lucky enough to have an ADHD coach and we went through my values, and there were a lot of values that I thought I had, but when she asked me to write down all the things that I wanted to do with my life, frankly I had to admit that wanting to go snowboarding, and complete an Ironman 70.3 had nothing to do with humility. And for someone as health conscious as I am with a strong interest in how the body works, and keeping fit, and wanting to be a triathlete again, not once did I mention health as one of my values.
We worked through a lot of self-limiting beliefs I had, especially around money, and unpacking my thoughts around “the love of money is the root of all evil”. A lot of my values had to be re-thought because the good girl people pleaser in me wrote down my first set of values, and I had to go back and be real about who I am, not who I want people to think I am. It was not easy. And I’m still working on it.
Are there any activities, or things you have always wanted to try but didn’t because of whatever self-limiting beliefs, or judgement from others? If you have the means, try these things out, see if you like them. See if they fit into who you want to be. Do you enjoy them? Then roll with it.
Towards the end of last year, I had a random thought about wanting to do tennis. And because my kids were interested in doing tennis, I thought I may as well, because then it can be a fun activity that we can play together. I started Tennis coaching, and it was like a light went on. I had so much fun, and I had clearly forgotten how much I enjoyed playing tennis as a kid. I recalled that I had played from about the age of 10, all the way to the end of high school. I didn’t place any value on my enjoyment of the sport because I only played socially, I never tried out for the team. But, I had to admit to myself that this is something I really enjoyed.
This journey of self-knowledge has been a hard one, and I’m still learning new things about myself every day. Sometimes it’s this great feeling of learning something really positive about yourself that you hadn’t realized before, and other times you have to admit to yourself that you have qualities that are maybe not that likeable. And you can keep them, or put them in the self-improvement bucket, but as long as you acknowledge all your parts… and we’ll get into the self-love and acceptance part later. But for now, all we need to know is who am I?