Trigger warning: mention of burnout & self-loathing.
This guest feature has been written by Kelly Stone Cramer, founder of Happiness Recharge (she’s also on Instagram and publishes self-care reminders and positive affirmations on the regular – make sure to check it out). Kelly has very kindly agreed to let me re-post one of the blog entries from her website about facing ourselves: something that many of us are reluctant to do, but which brings a whole load of benefits when we do!
“I was scared to death that what I’d find would change my life in a way I might not be able to handle”
Facing who you are is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. When you do so, you know completely who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to improve, which is hopefully an even better version of who you are today. We are always evolving. Accepting this evolution is how we create an improved world filled with equality for all.
Maybe facing who you are sounds easy because you’ve done it already, perhaps even multiple times. If that’s the case, great job; keep it up. If you haven’t yet peered beneath your several layers, which can be endless, perhaps facing yourself sounds too scary or because you don’t know how to start.
This was true for me. I didn’t know how or where to start, nor did I know that on the other side of doing so, there was a greater life to be lived. And I was scared to death that what I’d find would change my life in a way I might not be able to handle.
“Those momentary glimpses […] gave me the fuel to keep going with my transformation toward who I wanted to be”
Nearly a decade ago now, I was living a life I loathed. I didn’t like who I was. I was a people pleaser, afraid to go after the life I wanted. I lived in fear of disappointing those around me. At the time, being uncomfortable in my own skin caused so much internal anxiety, that to be seen or heard made it painful to be in group settings.
I remember hitting my breaking point; it was when I had momentary glimpses of who I truly was. The good things about me gave me strength and something to build upon, but my weak points made me realize there was work to be done if I truly wanted to become a better version of myself.
Those momentary glimpses of who I truly was gave me the fuel to keep going with my transformation toward who I wanted to be. Do you know who I found? I found someone who was finally ready to be strong, empowered, and independent. This process didn’t happen overnight, but I did experience a huge immediate shift as soon as I was willing to face and accept everything I was.
Now, I am grateful for all the hard work of facing my weaknesses which gave me the motivation to change. When I first began to walk with my strength, it was a little like how a baby deer finds its legs. Today my legs are as strong as they’ve ever been and it’s all thanks to facing my own truth of who I was and am.
“Facing who you really are [isn’t]…leaving the familiar, it’s unveiling it and showing you the truth of what lies within”
There are many layers that make up who you are, but today, I am going to reference just two. They are big ones; ones that helped lead me toward my own inner strength. I hope they help you find or amplify your inner strength.
The first layer of facing who you are is about acknowledging your physical form. You are a human in a body that is strong but not invincible. You need to prioritize, advocate, and protect yourself just as you would a child for whom you were the sole caregiver.
In my past people-pleasing ways, I remember putting everyone’s needs and wants before my own. Even when my energy was operating on fumes, I didn’t know how to say no because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t know that prioritizing my need to rest would prevent me from becoming resentful and bitter at those around me. I didn’t know it was solely my responsibility to speak up for what I needed to maintain balance in my life.
At my breaking point, I was also burnt out physically. Facing this layer was my physical wake-up call to take care of my body. My body’s burnout gave me an aha! moment. An obvious truth occurred to me that someday, my body would not exist, and it was up to me to do right by my body to feel my best while I was still alive. As humans, we are so good about being in denial about our own end. And with all our stimulating distractions in the world, it’s no wonder. But knowing and keeping this fact close to our awareness can help act as a reminder to prioritize self-care to live the best life possible.
Once I began to put my self-care first, I learned that when fully recharged I was able to be at my best in all areas of my life. This new habit I was aiming to adopt was challenging at first.
At the very same time I’d made up my mind to put self-care first, the flood gates of people asking me for things seemed to break fully open. Sometimes life can test you the most when you’re going through self-disciplinary change. But I held my ground and made self-care a priority for the sake of my body. And after a while, it became easier. Today, it is second nature. So much so, I didn’t want to keep this benefit to myself, hence why I’m sharing these words with you now.
The second layer of who you are is your collective life experiences with others. While we all have the ability to live in our own heads, we don’t reside on this earth alone. The truth is, our interactions with others heavily influence who we are.
As a collective, we have a tendency in our culture to value the quantity of what we can accomplish versus slowing down to have more quality in our lives. It takes a courageous person to make a change to go against the grain to prioritize self-care to live a slower and better-balanced life.
Think for a moment about your past experiences with others. How many times, while rushing through life, have you stopped to slow down and reflect to better process what you’re going through? The mind needs time to transmute experiences to process and proceed to your best ability. It’s like cleaning a messy space and clearing a path so you can easily move forward.
The most powerful tools that helped me face who I was were just two simple things: a pen and paper. Writing out my thoughts helped me process all of the different external experiences as well as my personal reflections (see my reflect-ception article for more on this topic).
This practice of journaling is still a powerful tool I use today to keep my mind devoid of a messy chaotic world to move forward while also helping me to stay close to my truth of who I am and who I want to evolve into. It helped me conquer my original fear of losing who I was, and allowed me to realize that I could handle any personal evolutionary change that came my way.
Change on any level can be hard. It’s leaving the familiar and walking toward the unknown. Facing who you really are is a lot like that, except it’s not leaving the familiar, it’s unveiling it and showing you the truth of what lies within.
Ultimately, the real authentic-you doesn’t have to be separated from your awareness. When you look beneath these two layers of your life and face who you are, you will be able to build on a solid foundation of yourself. And on that foundation, you can repair and build yourself into the person you always wanted to be.
May you evolve to be a self-care champion, advocating for what you need to maintain balance and growth.
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha
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