Life is first and foremost a mental game. Your mind is what will determine if you get started or continue when things are getting tough. You've heard this before and more; like how well you perform may depend on how well you think you'll perform. Or believing in yourself first is required to achieve. Most weekend athletes and sales people psych themselves up this way every day. So what's new to write about on this subject? Plenty.
Psyching yourself out to better perform is one layer that's fairly easy and quick to do. Deep understanding of yourself is worth the effort, but not often encouraged. Insight has been downgraded in the past few decades. Why? Insight doesn't automatically produce actions. You may understand yourself but haven't changed one bit. Psychoanalysis found that out the hard way.
But insight is what can be missing from your improvement program today. You have goals around your health, fitness, work, family, and creative life. How you approach them will determine if you fail or succeed.
Understanding your failures is more important than succeeding--always. Self-awareness takes time and knowing why you act against your own best interests helps you become connected to those more mysterious parts of yourself left lurking just out of your conscious awareness. The choice is to take the time or forever berate yourself for not being mentally tough enough to get the things done you want to do in life.
There are three steps to gaining insight about yourself.
1. You find insight by thinking. About your childhood--the family you grew up in, your experiences in school, how you dealt with teenage social life, what college was like and your romantic relationships. It's about thinking.
2. Then it's about writing. From a sporadic or disjointed writing process often comes a sense of clarity. Themes emerge and significant events come into focus.
3. Talking is next. Finding someone in your life you respect and trust to share your thoughts is often helpful. If you want more structure and confidentiality (and not having to listen to the other person's problems) you can find a local mental health professional. But talking about who you are and how you became that way--being witnessed and validated by another caring individual; is more empowering, helpful, and quicker than reading a dozen self-improvement books a year.
Gaining some self-awareness is first, now its time for some meaning-making. Action is the only thing that will make meaningful what you've learned about yourself.
1. Identify what you value in your life. Not what you think other people want you to value. What you value. Your values are the direction you will be heading with your life. North South East West. Those are directions and you are looking to find a general direction you want to go in the area you are looking to improve.
2. Once your direction is set, you can begin to set goals for those areas you are looking to improve. Goals are flags planted in the ground. They are far enough away to be challenging but not too close.
3. Now you keep score. Charting progress allows you to see forward motion--and falling behind. The secret is that both will occur. There is an ebb and flow to success and never forget life moves in both directions.
All the insight--all the motivation and you'll still betray yourself sometimes. You are more than your conscious thoughts. Being able to accept that there are parts of you that are outside your conscious control will get you on the path for real self-awareness. Honoring those parts of you that you don't understand yet allows you to know you're bigger than you know--greater than you yet understand--and so more willing to discover the incredible uniqueness that resides within you.
When have you caught a glimpse of the unconscious at work in your life? Have you discovered there's more than meets the eye inside of you?