This post has been slightly updated from a post that ran on May 2, 2010.
I mentioned the other day that I have been reflecting on the absolutes that I preach while teaching the body image course. The last one I shared was that it is never about you.
Today’s bit? A little self-awareness goes a very long way.
I’ve said this before but I am going to say it again. Journaling as a young girl, in many ways, kept me safe. Had I not turned to a journal when I was young to sort through what I was feeling and thinking, I don’t think I would have thought much about what I was feeling or thinking. I would have just let those feelings and thoughts run rampant and not reflected on what I was learning from them. But because there is only so much you can get from a journal where all you do is recite what you did that day, I soon turned to long, stream-of-conscious journal entries where I spent enough time on the page talking about more than just what I did for the day that I soon discovered what I most wanted for myself, what patterns were keeping me from getting there, and what pathways I needed to take. Journaling also allowed me to move on. After I had spent 5 pages lamenting the end of a relationship or a bad grade or whatever, I had really exhausted my desire to sit in it. Instead, looking up from the page, I was ready to move on, wiser and more clear.
Moreover, because we all have a desire- at our core- to be honest to ourselves, when I wrote one thing in my journal, it was incredibly hard for me to act in a way that was counter to what I had just expressed. Hence, my journal kept me safe. It kept me honest. It kept me doing the right thing. I also think it kept any wounds I did and could have suffered in childhood and adolescence in perspective and at bay. I was not what happened to me. I was a thinking, breathing, loving person who acted from her soul. Not events, but soul. That’s a powerful thing to realize at any age.
Now, does self-awareness only come from journaling? No. It can come from honest conversations with someone you trust, from counseling, from thoughtful meditations during a morning walk or evening swim. How you get to self-awareness is as varied as we each are. That we get there is a great gift in living our most authentic lives, in being insulated from the pain that can come, in being open to the joy that can also come. It is a salve to heal the wounds of body criticisms and self-image criticisms that can come if we aren’t prepared. It is good medicine in fighting the good fight.
So what do we do to raise our self-awareness? Only you know what is right for you. Perhaps you should start journaling, reading books that address issues that pique your interests, see a counselor, form a confidence circle with a friend, run, walk, or swim so that you can work things out in your head. I can’t answer the how for you. I can simply tell you that it is time and energy well spent. If you are looking to make it a cornerstone of your self-work, journaling is a significant part of the Beautiful You journey that was specifically designed to increase one’s self-awareness and self-acceptance. Periodically, I offer journal prompts on here. I’ll continue to do so in the hopes that those prompts can be part of all of our strategies to go within. And is there a girl in your life right now who is struggling? Give her the gift of a journal to get her started in knowing her most amazing self.