Labels, Descriptions, and Identifiers (Part 5: Journey to Self)
This week we are going to ‘get real’ with ourselves! This is the time to make lists, reflect, and evaluate. The list we will be making will be made up of words we use to describe, label, and identify ourselves. This list can be made up of concrete and/or abstract words. I want you to include words that can be identified as feeling words as well. For example, here is an excerpt from my list:
humble kind loving scared awkward
driven supportive genuine observant loyal
This is definitely not an all inclusive list, there are many more descriptors I have left to add. Okay, so now that I have this, what I am going to do is begin to reflect on each of these characteristics. How have they benefited me? Hindered me? Have they created connections with myself and others or have they kept me guarded and shut-off? Basically, what is the typical outcome in situations when I am noticing these aspects of myself being used or coming out. Meaning are these helping me or rearing their ugly head? Also, it would be a good time to determine if these are characteristics I have decided I am or are they words I have adopted based on what I have heard others say about me (good or bad, positive or negative). Here is an example:
humble – this is a double edged sword for me, sometimes it keeps me shut off from others because I don’t share parts of myself, typically I do this on purpose or with full awareness because I don’t want to make others uncomfortable and other times it is more organic or out of habit that I remain humble
awkward – this is typical in new social situations, I am not much of a small talker and that seems to make certain personality types uncomfortable, sometimes I speak before I think and my words come out discombobulated, the outcome of feeling awkward can look like shame, embarrassment, or sometimes I just enjoy it and laugh at myself because overall I find it amusing that I still have this aspect of myself
scared – this would be more along the lines of anxious, insecure, and fearful, this typically comes out when I have to go somewhere new by myself or if I have to step outside of my comfort zone, social situations, large crowds, the outcome is that I isolate, shut down, sometimes I act out (typically in the social situations), this is definitely something I have difficulty making work for me, I accept it and have some techniques to assist me when I have to work through it
Hopefully these examples are helpful and make sense. The important part of this exercise is to begin to recognize when we are using the various parts of ourselves; then identifying if the outcome is beneficial, neutral, or detrimental to us.
As I stated or implied earlier, there are several purposes for this activity.
- Identifying what we see in ourselves versus what others have put on us
- Reflecting on what each characteristic means for you
- Recognizing when, how, and why we are using this characteristic
- Determining how to adapt, change, repurpose this characteristic and its behaviors so that you can be more aligned and authentic with yourself
Continue to add to the list throughout the week as you learn more about yourself. I also want to include that this is not a be all end all type of activity. View this more as a baseline for yourself. It is important to be honest when evaluating yourself, this is the only way to begin to grow, change, and/or develop. This is your list, not something that needs to be shared with anyone else. I want you to get comfortable with all aspects of you. I know there will be some parts of yourself that make you cringe or that you simply don’t want to admit, that is the importance of finding out when you are using these characteristics and the outcome they create. Most things that are typically identified as negatives can later be reframed into positives. This will be something we are looking into later on. So, for now, focus on you, identify, evaluate, and begin to make sense of yourself to yourself!