Updated: Jan 10
Being a teenager was an extremely exhausting time for me. The amount of effort I put into being someone that other people would like was monumental. I was under constant pressure to live according to what I believed was required in order to form meaningful friendships. I truly believed that I had to dress a certain way, listen to certain music, and have certain interests in order to tick the 'right' boxes. Whenever I made a decision, I would look for validation from my peers before going any further. I was on a high-speed train to losing my identity, and the more I complied, the faster the train sped away. I didn't know at the time that what I was doing could have a devastating impact on my self-worth. I was just doing what everybody else seemed to do, and so I subconsciously justified my choices by pushing away my true self.
It has been a long time since I was a teenager. And it took maximum mental and emotional energy to lift myself out of the sludge of conformity. I was only able to see how stuck in it I was when I was longer in that environment. Now don't get me wrong - there was no bullying involved. I didn't ever feel that others around me were placing the pressure on me. It was the simple fact that my interests and passions were so different than many others, that I labeled myself as not fitting in, and not good enough to make true friends. When I look back now, I can see that a lot of the time I didn't even know what made me truly happy, because I didn't give myself that chance. I never allowed myself enough space to live into my true self.
Through my many years of experience reading about positive psychology, leaving behind clinical psychology, and eventually training as a positive psychology coach, I began to slowly unravel from the layers of pretense I had wrapped myself in. With every choice that I made just for me, I got a boost of validation from my own self, and that was the anchor that I needed to come back into a life that brought me happiness, regardless of whether others shared the same joys.
As a life coach, I truly believe to my core that in order to make any positive changes, get unstuck, or pursue a passion, it is imperative that you know who you are. Who on earth are you? It is one of those questions that might seem easy at first glance, but when it comes to giving an answer, how much can you really say? The most fundamental piece at the beginning of a life coaching engagement with me, is to unpack and guide my clients to understand and appreciate and fully live into their authentic selves. By doing so, and regularly making choices that will align you with who you really are, you will become self-confident, optimistic, and motivated. Everybody speaks about loving yourself, and how important that is. Well, many of you may not know yourselves well enough, for whatever reason, to truly show yourself unconditional self-compassion.
Here are a few key things that you can get in touch with in order to help you get to know your true self:
1) Your values - what is important to you? What are the things in life that matter to you the most? When you are contemplating choices, what are the factors that ultimately help you make that final decision?
- Tip: When you make everyday choices, you can remind yourself of these values. If what you are doing does not match your values, this can lead to confusion and unhappiness.
2) Your pleasures - When do you feel at your best? How does it feel to be doing the things that bring you joy? This can be something as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee on your balcony, and in fact, the more you can integrate these pleasures into your daily life, the better.
- Tip: Try to do at least one thing every day that brings you pleasure to build up your positive emotions, and remind yourself that you are capable of enjoying life.
3) Your strengths - What are you good at? What are the tools and qualities that you use to overcome challenges? What are the positive attributes that others would describe you as having?
- Tip: Whenever you face a challenging decision or are in difficult circumstances, how can you use these strengths to navigate your way to a positive outcome? You can take this free survey to get an evidence-based, accurate report of your character strengths.
4) Your positive experiences - What was your best job? When were you most connected in your relationship? How do you feel after exercising? What is one positive thing that has happened for you this week?
- Tip: By recalling these positive experiences, you are not only drawing out positive emotions and feeling good, but also you can remember what you were doing in those moments. What choices did you make then that you could make now that will help you be happier?
I didn't know what I was doing back then, and I am not soaking in regrets. I appreciate the value of the experiences I had growing up, as it made getting to know myself all the more exhilarating. There is no end to this journey, and that fact brings me so much joy and optimism for tomorrow. No matter how low you get in one moment, when you understand yourself and continue to make choices that align with your authentic self, you will get back on track.
Do you know who you are?
For details on my Thrive women's coaching group launching in February, click here.
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