One of the most instrumental vehicles to personal growth and transformation is our ability to lovingly and openly evaluate ourselves. This does not mean taking a sledgehammer to our self-esteem and deconstructing ourselves, negatively judging ourselves, or opening up old wounds. Self-reflection is a way we can show love to ourselves by giving ourselves permission to pause, assess, appreciate, and recalibrate our life’s decisions. Self-reflections (or self-confessions as I like to refer to them) involve a level of honesty and valor that allows us to stare in the proverbial mirror and see ourselves fully, wholly, and with tenderness. Are we tired? Angry? Running on fumes? Disorganized? Lost? All of the above? The problem is not that we feel any one or a combination of the above; the problem becomes when we when do not take time to sit peacefully with our inner content and allow it to talk to us. We silence it. Turn off the ringer. Make it inaudible.
The emotions and activities that commonly lead to professional, physical or emotional burnout are merely the visible indicators of what lies beneath: hurts, disappointments, fear, stagnation, loss, sadness, etc. We cannot access and nourish these emotions if we are not willing to reflect and take inventory of the gray matter of our core: the intersection of our goals, lifestyle choices, and desires of the heart. This vector is hard to align and even more difficult to sustain if we are not willing to take our own (self) pulse from time to time and sit quietly with this psychological data.
In this way, self-confessions are nestled in authentic vulnerability because in that vulnerability there resides one quiet universal truth—that we are human. Yes, that’s right. Vulnerability is the vehicle that our body (and psyche) utilizes to remind us that we are, indeed, human. The irony in all of this lies in the observation that in our society today, “humanness” is socially perceived as a flaw or weakness. The recognition that we have physical limits, that we have emotions and that these emotion are just as important as our cognitive capacities, and that we cannot be in the performance zone perpetually without sacrificing our health, well-being, and quite honestly, our sanity, is often neglected and relentlessly challenged until we arrive at one critical crossroad: change lanes or burn out.
Any true loving of self or other involves the ability to enter into a state of vulnerability and find comfort in the love and authenticity that resides in that relationship; in this case with ourselves. It is a quiet opportunity to take stock of our needs and lifestyle choices and to have enough courage to understand that change is vital to our emergence as a ‘whole’ being.
Here is what you will need to get started:
- Humility. Humility is the quiet friend that allows you to safely hold up the mirror and look deeply and lovingly at what lies before you. It is the understanding that imperfection is part of the growth process and that in order to cleanse and realign, we first need to take a close (but loving) look at ourselves. Humility is the part of us that allows ourselves permission to be imperfect and mute a society that is trying to dissuade us. Humility is sitting with your unfiltered self and lovingly embracing it, as is.
- Self-Compassion. Self-compassion, or the ability to care and show mercy to oneself as you would someone you loved, is at the crux of self-reflection. It is the ingredient that allows us to love ourselves despite our shortcomings and provides us the green light to be patient with our life changes as we try to grow into a better version of ourselves. It is the paste that allows us to piece together the new and improved in a manner that honors the old and essential.
- A ‘Restful’ Place. In order to faithfully endure numbers 1 and 2, we need a space that allows us to be able to sit with our emotions comfortably and with openness. This “restful” place need not be a physical sanctuary designated for this work; it can indeed be any space, physical or mental, that allows us to relax our defenses and be lovingly open with ourselves. This can be in the quiet of a warm bath, the serenity of a nature hike or run, the comfort of a prayer or meditation, the familiarity of a childhood friend, or losing yourself in a blissful song. There are endless options here and they do not necessarily need to be crafted rigidly. Find love. Lean in. Grow.
To confessions that bring you closer to a more renewed, more transformed, more authentic you in a world that tells you otherwise!