Knowing, liking, being YOU!
- Do you know who you are?
- Do you like who you are?
- Can you be who you are?
See, until you can answer these questions with a positive frame your well-being and mental health will be under attack, in tension, challenged, perhaps even fragile (strong as a pane of glass, but if hit from the wrong angle it shatters).
These 3 simple questions have become the foundation of many coaching conversations I’ve found myself in. However whilst they may be simple in form (only 6 words in length), they are by no means easy questions to answer.
Knowing who we are, having a strong sense of self/identity is the first step in this. So lets look at these questions a little more deeply…
One – Do you know who you are?
I can honestly say I only really asked myself this question 3 years ago (aged 40), perhaps 10 or 15 years to late. Before this time I found myself ‘doing stuff’. Getting a job, buying a home, having a child and being busy with life. These events and the activities around them defined me (I was my actions). During this time life events rocked me, they had me on my knees. My foundations, my sense of self started to fracture. In the repairing of these cracks I found it wasn’t enough to eat well, sleep well and explore new things (these were just sticking plasters). I needed to know more deeply who I actually was. Try this:
- What 3 words describe you?
- What do those words look like in action?
- How will these actions make others feel?
Take this one step further and ask a friend, a family member and a work colleague to respond to these questions in relation to you.
- Do they use the same (similar/different) words?
- How do they describe your behaviours (actions)?
- How does this make them (others) feel?
Are you hearing the same things or are you different people in different places (this is ok).
Two – Do you like who you are?
This is the honesty piece you have to tackle. The person described above is how you see yourself (and how others see you).
If you picked an agreeable friend, family member and work colleague, you may well have received kind and thoughtful responses. However if you were brave and selected those who are less agreeable and see the world differently, you may well have received a more diverse image of yourself.
How you describe yourself and how others see you is an outward projection of you. That’s not to say this is who you are, but this is HOW you are, this is how you are seen, perceived and received by others. The question is:
Do you like what they see/describe, do you like what you describe?
If the answer is yes to these then brilliant, you are on to a winner. Well that’s unless you are masking! Yes masking, pretending to be someone to fit into the world around you. Concealing who you ‘really’ are or wish to be!
If you don’t like the person described by you or others, then its time to take action. Identify what it is that you are uncomfortable about and take small steps to change this. Please don’t go full on changing everything (unless you find this helpful). I’d suggest changing one action each day and trying to adopt this as a new set of behaviours and way of thinking as you go.
Small smart choices over time lead to great change.
Be consistent and do this for you (not for others, this shouldn’t be about changing you so others see you in a more positive light).
Three – Can you be who you are?
This bit can be tricky, we all know there are social rules for being. There are social rules for being a brother, sister, mom, dad, work colleague and friend. Across these context there are similarities and differences. These are culturally set often by those that came before (and don’t deviate dramatically).
Do you choose to fit in, evolve, stand out?
I can’t answer that, but I can ask… if you are choosing to ‘fit in’ at the expense of your well-being then don’t. Please find a way to be ‘more’ you.
In the home this may be about sitting down with close ones and sharing what you desire, with friends this may be about opening up and expressing who you are and what you have been hiding. And in a work context this can be about talking to your line manger and close team members to explain how you see the world, how you’d like to work and be. I appreciate this may sound daunting but I promise you this, your well-being is more important. Don’t ignore it.
I firmly believe that until you can answer these questions, everything else we do in terms of ‘mental-health’ and ‘well-being’ may well be a sticking plaster. I myself take part in regular exercise, get out for walks in green spaces, spend time with good people, I meditate and now even do yoga. These are all great for you, I love them – but! When I sit down in my living room alone and have space to think, if my answers to these 3 questions are nondescript or negative then I’m likely to find my well-being under tension once more.
If you want some guided support through this get in touch, its not the easiest I know but together things become more possible – email@example.com