Many of us go through life skimming the surface of our identities. That is, we don’t truly dig deeply into our thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams. Part of the problem is that we’re always on the go. When to-do lists keep swelling, self-exploration takes a backseat. How can it not, when we barely find time for self-care? Specifically, self-exploration involves “taking a look at your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors and motivations and asking why. It’s looking for the roots of who we are — answers to all the questions we have about [ourselves],” according to Ryan Howes, Ph.D, psychologist, writer and professor in Pasadena, California. Having a deeper understanding of ourselves has many benefits. It “helps people understand and accept who they are and why they do what they do, which improves self-esteem, communication and relationships,” he said. -------------------------------------------------
Here, Howes discusses how he helps clients explore their own identities, the potential challenges that can hamper self-exploration and the strategies readers can try at home.
The process of exploring yourself is a meticulous one and takes determination and focus to accomplish. It means becoming aware of what’s important to you and understanding yourself, i.e. your values, interests, aptitudes, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. It is also a way to gain knowledge of what is a good fit or match for your personality type. Before you can explore the world of work or a career, you must first understand yourself. Start by asking yourself questions: “What do I want to do?” “ What are my goals, dreams and ambitions?” Self-exploration is looking inside yourself and concentrating and focusing on you, your needs, and your future…not mom’s, dad’s, or your friends. This is not to say that what others have to say isn’t important. On the contrary, hear them out, but ultimately this important decision is yours. After all, you know you better than anyone else, even mom. This process of self-exploration may seem a little lame, but this is the foundation that makes good decisions great! Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can make all the difference! If you take the time to know yourself, or at least evaluate yourself, you will have a truer sense of what’s good for you, or should I say, better for you. Many people never take into consideration whether the career/job they’ve chosen is something that they are going to enjoy doing, whether it’s going to meet their needs professionally and/or personally. Many are just glad to have a job that pays decent wages. Yes, finances are important, but ultimately it’s more important to be happy. If you are not satisfied in your job it will eventually affect your work, your level of commitment to the job, those you work for and even your personal life. If you enjoy what you are doing, believe in it and you know why you chose to do it, you will tend to be more committed to it, better at it, and you’ll work harder to do it well. This commitment, this strong work ethic is what aims us towards achieving greatness. If we are happy, we look towards the future with determination, ambition, and goals. If we are just getting by in our job, could care less about whether we get the job done or even whether we come to work at all, we tend to wallow in our misery. We do more looking back at what could have been or should have been, and can only see the future as more of the same dissatisfaction. Success requires taking an active role in the growth and development of our personal and professional life. One way to get started figuring out who you are and what you want in life is to begin by evaluating your academic exposure. Look at the courses you’ve taken: both the ones' you liked and disliked. Of the classes you liked, what did you enjoy most about the subject? What made you dislike some of the courses? Why didn’t that class appeal to you? Does the class provide you with something that you can develop into a...
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