Do you know yourself? Inside and out?
Do you know what you like? What you’re good at? What’s important to you?
And, more importantly, do you love that about yourself?
I had the opportunity to talk about all these issues recently when I was interviewed by Cath Duncan, a wonderful South African writer and coach, who does frequent calls with authors and thinkers on a range of ideas. She also has a great thing: The Bottom-Line Book Club. Cath summarizes the best books in self-help and personal growth, culling out the really important, useful stuff – so you don’t have to read the entire book! Brilliant.
Cath wanted to understand how to make a framework for goal-setting and came to me since I’m a framework kinda gal. Now, I could have talked with Cath for hours – she’s just that warm, curious and kind. And I think the interview was powerful and purposeful. You can listen to it: here.
My bottom-line is pretty simple. Making decisions becomes easy when you know your strengths, your values, your priorities and your preferences. And planning becomes effortless when you love them.
What do I mean? Well, let me ask you this: How much time do you spend beating yourself up because you’re not like someone else? Not tall enough, not thin enough, not rich enough, not organized enough? How often do you operate under a should, as in “I should really…”? Are you a person who believes that there is something inherently wrong with the way you approach things because it’s so different from the way your friends and family would do it?
And how’s that working for you?
If you’re unhappy, and maybe stuck, then your path out and through is a path toward self-love – a healthy appreciation and understanding of who you are and what you bring to the world. When you are there, you’ll find that self-doubt, self-criticism and self-loathing goes out the window, leaving only healthy, happy you.
So how do you do it? How do you come to know and love yourself?
You start with the facts about yourself. I often suggest clients take an assessment like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (I am a certified practitioner), and the StrengthsFinder 2.0. Take old performance reviews and look for repeating ideas and themes. Ask your closest friends and associates to tell you what they see as your strengths. And, take all this data and see what it tells you about…you.
There’s an old joke that goes: “There are two kinds of people in the world – those who think the world can be divided into two groups of people, and those who don’t.” Of course, I’m in the “don’t” pile. I believe the world can be divided into three kinds of people.
In my mind, there are three ways people take in information and interact in the world. There are people who come from the heart, leading with their emotions and their feelings, and there are people who come from their minds, leading with their thoughts and their intellect. And some people come from their bodies, leading with a physicality, in search of a tactile connection with the world.
I know a woman who is so physically oriented that she needs – needs – three periods of intense exercise every day to be her best self. The only problem was that her need for physicality felt different from people around her. She felt other. Tension and stress ensued. It was only when she realized that being physical was as integral to her happiness as breathing that she dropped the should, and began seeing her ultimate self expression in testing her physical limits.
While we thinking people want to test our intellectual limits. Finding, creating, understanding that concept – that is mother’s milk to a person who relies on her intellect. While those who come from the heart test the limits of their emotions. They feel – deeply, fully, compassionately – and, therefore, they are.
And, it’s all good.
The eminent psychologist Carl Jung held that at some point of our life, we become integrated – we know when it’s appropriate to come from our minds, or our hearts, or our bodies. We draw on each of these as needed to attend to the task at hand, certainly. But mostly, we draw on them to derive the most possible happiness from each and every moment.
All I know is that when I am clear on who I am, what I value, what I’d like to have, how I’d like to be, how I come from my head but also listen to my heart – and love every bit of it – then there is no shame. There is no stuck. There is only happy movement forward, in what can’t help but be the absolute right direction.