Self Exploration: The Good the Bad and the Balance

The thought of self exploration can be daunting if you think of it as only a quest to find all the things about you that need improvement. However, we are so much more than negative attributes. I believe that if you choose to embark on a journey to connect more deeply with yourself it doesn’t benefit you to only focus on the negative. You are made up of many attributes that could be seen as negative or positive.  

For instance, you may be a bit greedy, but also you may be an incredibly supportive person. You could end up being the one who has the most to give when someone is in need. Many of the attributes we see within ourselves are not so black and white as to thoroughly declare it as something to rid ourselves of. Some things that seem negative could only need a little bit of tweaking. Many may see too much of a positive thing as overwhelming and something that needs adjusting as well.

If you can examine yourself with the thought of balance in mind, that may make it easier. Think of the attributes that you love about yourself, if you’ve already made a map this may go much more easily for you. Can you think of a time when one of those wonderful attributes, though well intended, made a situation more complicated? This is because we are human beings with different experiences, all of us have our own different perspectives of good and bad. An attempt to do something you see as the right thing may not be what the situation needed. This doesn’t negate the positivity of your intention, it simply shows that nuances are present in this place of self discovery because of our humanness.

I choose the word humanness because it’s synonym, humanity, doesn’t feel personal enough and this journey is meant to be incredibly personal. This isn’t about the greater good, this is about you and how you can feel happier, more fulfilled, less awkward and more prone to view the world with a lens of joy and fulfillment. Many feel discomfort in focusing on themselves; they don’t want to be seen as selfish. My opinion though is that when you build that strong foundation within, it enables you to help others more easily and readily. It provides focus on not only how you could help improve the situation but also the wisdom on where you may need the help of someone else.

Where do you excel? Do you own that strength or do you keep it quiet so as not to be put to a test that you fear failing? More importantly, you have to be willing to accept that just because you excel at something doesn’t mean you won’t ever need assistance or that someone else’s input would be a threat to you. If you have a strong internal foundation you will be less likely to be threatened by the input of others. It may even bring you relief in those situations that it is clear that one person shouldn’t be expected to handle it all by themselves. 

Judgment is also a hurdle to overcome here. Part of the reason for knowing yourself better is to strengthen your resolve to authentically be yourself. To live your life with a perspective of wholeness and to do it with confidence. If you judge yourself too harshly you are preventing progress from happening.  You may even be convincing yourself that you cannot overcome something because you don’t deserve to. 

If you find a barrier, do a judgment check. Is your own unhappiness bringing these emotions up or someone else’s perspective? When you bring it to mind, is it your voice saying it or someone else’s? You may be using judgments that you were instilled with by others. You may have enjoyed guidance from someone with more life experience, someone who possessed a great deal of wisdom that helped you navigate the world with more certitude, but that doesn’t mean that the person who provided you with that guidance was infallible. Also what worked for them may not work for you. Times change, people change. A strong foundation of self knowledge will let you be in touch with when you may need to reassess and yes, possibly, change. This doesn’t mean that you were not good enough before it simply means it was time to balance things in a way that fits your life now. 

Evaluate the attributes of yourself that you see as negative, one by one. Rate their hindrance to your happiness on a scale of 1 through 10 with 10 being the greatest hindrance. Now, for a more balanced perspective, consider the ways in which they could be or have been useful in a situation. Also consider that it could be a positive thing when coupled with one of your positive attributes (like the greed example I gave above) Now rate it again. Try to balance it with the positives, and where you can’t find the balance is where you start really analyzing.

Set your mind to be vigilant of this negative attribute. When this attribute arises again try wielding it more softly. Like in the greed example, take half of what you would normally take or even 2/3rds. What emotions come up for you? Where do these emotions stem from? If this is based on a bad period of your life it may be time to reassess your experiences related to that situation. Filter it through your current circumstances and find out what is still true and necessary about this attribute and what is not. Think of how you would answer the question “Do I really need that much and why?” If you can’t answer clearly, that is a good indication that at least tweaking of this attribute may be needed.

Please know that this isn’t meant to be done in a weekend’s time. This is meant to take as long as you need. You may unearth major internal issues that were never fully resolved. If it takes a little while, that’s okay if not expected. This isn’t meant to disrupt your life. It is meant to connect you better with your internal self, to build a foundation you can act from with confidence, to have a safe and restorative place to return to when things are hard or disappointing or just plain exhausting. It is a place you can feel your full worth and know that even if things get hard, you will find a way through. This won’t make you perfect, but it will give you a better chance of finding the freedom to be fully yourself and love every part.