Do you have a space where you can be transparent with yourself? Is there a place where you can be completely unapologetically honest about how you feel, what you are going through, and what you have experienced? Do you take time to retreat there regularly?
How I benefitted from transparency in my own life
Long before Retire the Overachiever, I kept an online blog for 6 years. I doubt that more than 5 of my friends knew about it. It was my diary, so to speak, and kept watch of my journey as I transitioned from work into and through graduate school, and back to full-time work again. I went through so many changes–spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional–that shaped the woman I am today.
Reading through the blog now grants me an insider’s view of my journey. There were times that I felt I was learning the same lessons over and over again. Other times, I was surprised by my own depth of understanding as I went through countless struggles. My blog told me that time and time again, I was resilient, creative, and ultimately, a overcomer.
I recorded poetry, wrote about love, reflected on breakups, talked about my wellness practices, and dreamed about my future. I now have a living memory of my entire life experience in graduate school. I’m happy to see how much I grew during that phase of my life, but also I give myself credit for the person I was, even at the beginning. That person was bright, wise, reflective, full of life, and eager to make a difference. She was willing to leave a secure position with the federal government to pursue her passions. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her bravery and determination. I overcame so many foibles that taught me lessons I now use in my everyday life.
How you can be more transparent with yourself
By keeping a transparent record of your own life, you can develop perspective on who you authentically are. When you are facing challenges, you can remind yourself of what you have already overcome. If life seems to be moving in slow-motion, you can remind yourself of other times where you decided to have patience, or to take life by the horns. Your past decisions can help to inform future decision-making. But most of all, you can create a space to be compassionate with yourself, by seeing yourself from the outside as an imperfect human being who is trying to figure life out.
If you don’t already have a practice of self-reflection, here are 5 tips to help you get started:
1. DO Create a space where you are honest and authentic with yourself.
Here are a few ways in which you can bring this practice to life:
1) Write in a journal
2) Draw pictures
4) Create personal videos (vlog) or record audio using your phone or other device
2. DO Commit to channeling how you are feeling and what you are thinking about on a regular basis.
This can be once per week, or once per day. But decide on something you can realistically be accountable for. Set a recurring task on your calendar to remind you.
3. DON’T hold back.
I used to have a journal where I took notes during sermons, and recorded my frustrations. The former encouraged me, but the latter helped me understand my limits and challenges. I was able to address my own needs and take better care of myself as a result. Don’t feel like you have to live up to an image in this space–be real.
4. DON’T judge what you think, write, draw, or record.
This isn’t being submitted for a contest or publication (unless of course, you decide to). Start by giving yourself permission to be completely free–we all need a space in the world where we can do that. It may feel awkward at first, and that is okay. You might start out not knowing what to do. So, write, draw, or record exactly that.
Over time, you might be surprised by what you are feeling. Remember that feelings are not a representation of who you are. They are not inherently good or bad. They can come and go, though some linger a lot longer than we would like. Listen, and see what comes up for you. By documenting the days on which you find yourself feeling undesired, uninspired, or unmotivated, you can learn what you authentically need. The days where you are feeling strong may instruct you on how you can go about fulfilling these needs. Much of what we desire from others or from the world is related to what we need to give ourselves. Be open to learning this lesson.
5. DO take time to review what you think, write, draw, or record.
Once you are more distanced from a situation, being reminded what you felt at the time will give you perspective on what you have overcome as well as what you have learned as a result. You are a powerful human being with resilience and potential. Give yourself a chance to see this up close.
I hope that by taking these steps, you will develop a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship with yourself. We are each on our own unique paths, but one thing we each share in common is that our relationship with self is where the journey begins. May your transparency remind you of who you really are.
How do you benefit from being transparent with yourself?
Image courtesy of dan at freedigitalphotos.net