A few years ago the BFF shared a blog post/open letter with me. It was written by a young lady who had recently ended a long term relationship. The letter/post was written with the intention of clearing the air and I think as a way to express the complex emotions she dealt with in the process. I’ll never forget my reaction. I started to scan it as I drove off from my workplace and by the second line I had to pull over. As I read it, I cried. I felt like she had pulled the words from my soul. Her experience ran so close to mine. Her pain was so familiar to me. Some things I thought I had faced and dealt with, accepted and moved on from, jumped off the screen and back into the forefront of my consciousness like they had just happened yesterday.
This happened at a time when I was striving towards a new level of self-awareness. I was still dealing with the shock and grief of my Mother’s sudden death coupled with the breakdown of a relationship that I strongly believed would have stood the test of time and trying to determine the best way to move forward with my life. Reading those words made me realize that there were parts of my self, aspects of my recent and current experiences that I had not dealt properly with. On a conscious level I was aware that relationships fail, that some people were not meant to be together. Unconsciously, I was doing what I am wont to do. I was shouldering the responsibility for the breakdown; stoically accepting all the blame, fielding all the criticism and the queries.We are often times unfair in our self-assessment. We are our worst critic and see ourselves as so much more flawed than we actually are. In that vein, we accept so much less than we deserve – in our friendships, from our employers, from our significant others and most importantly, from ourselves.
As I read that letter, as she outlined her experiences, as I identified with the emotions and the pain, I realized that I was being unfair to myself. I realized that if I was so angry at the person she was breaking up with, if I was so upset by the manner in which she was treated, if I wasn’t blaming her, how could it be fair that I was blaming myself. I was being unfair to me, and that does not create an environment for growth, for self-awareness. I realized that I was dealing with my self on the wrong level. Simultaneously, I realized that the new relationship I was in was heading down the same path. How could I truly know myself if I thought only the worst of myself? How could I know who I am, what I need, where I need to be, if I didn’t treat myself with compassion? This experience set me on a path of self-exploration that brought upheaval and disappointment and finally resolution and peace.
It didn’t happen overnight. But it did happen. More than a year later, to be in a place where I can honestly say I’m happy is amazing for me. To be able to speak honestly and openly about my experiences is empowering. To be able to identify where things went wrong and take responsibility while being fair to my self is liberating. To be able to state my expectations unequivocally and unwaveringly and then accept that a person is unwilling or unable to meet those expectations and then to recover from the disappointment of those unmet expectations is a level of strength it took me a long time to achieve. To be able to quickly identify when I’m going down the wrong path and make the necessary adjustments and corrections fosters stability. To joyfully embrace my individually and proudly declare my awesomeness and to be comfortable with who I am as a person is exactly where I need to be right now. I’ve made all these improvements, I’m still far from perfect and I have a ways to go, but now, I know that.
5 thoughts on “Know Thyself – The Value of Self-Awareness”
A couple of months ago I had a reasoning with a childhood friend about self-awareness. The conversation made me realize that there was a ‘problem’ that I had allowed to go unchecked. I have been working on it ever since. Good post.
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The conversations we have with the people who have known us the longest and the conversations we have with our selves are the most important. Open, honest discourse is rare these days and that’s why so many people have no clue who they really are.
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Self-Awareness is surely the path for growth. Continue on your path Cheryl. It’s good to share your experiences and be genuine about it. Often times as you’ve expressed we are our worst critic. Be patient and gentle with yourself and love yourself unconditionally ….keep your heart open.
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Thanks! I’m looking forward to more posts from you as well.
A journey we fear: at some point or another. Some will never, some have stopped…just keep putting foot in front the other, rest if you need to but keep journeying. Awesome job Cher