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Self    

Self

“Just be yourself.” It’s the advice we’ve heard all our lives, meant to reassure us in moments of doubt, fear, and anxiety as if the three words work instant magic. But knowing and owning your true self is rarely that simple. Instead, it’s a lifelong journey with many twists, turns, and pit-stops along the way. Sometimes our sense of self is vibrant and strong, easy to connect with and reveal to others. At other times, it’s cloudier and less confident, more dependent on the feelings of other people than our own beliefs and needs.

While we’ll always have moments of misalignment with ourselves – that is life – learning how to better tune in to who we are beneath the surface can lead us on a path to greater contentment and help us show up for ourselves when we need it most. Think of self-awareness as creating a domino effect: by knowing who we are, we can better support our friends and family, pursue the things we really dream about (and not just those that we’re told to value), and take care of ourselves in an authentic way. 

Carving out time to build a better sense of yourself is not always easy with work, family, friends, and, yes, the pull of the endless digital scroll consuming much of our time. But it’s far from selfish: by taking a little extra time to get to know and support yourself with no distractions, you’ll feel the rewards reverberate throughout the rest of your life. That’s why this month, The Local Optimist will be focusing on “Self.”  From sharing tips on setting boundaries to speaking with a licensed therapist about cultivating confidence, we hope to provide insights and tools that will help you support yourself.

To kick things off, here are four of our favorite tips for getting to know yourself better: 

1. Tune in to your inner self.

Developing a strong sense of self allows us to remain confident and calm despite whatever the world may throw our way. Make a point to regularly acknowledge what makes you you–beyond what type of clothes you like to wear or the foods you enjoy most. That means connecting with your inner self, whether through writing or internal conversation. Acknowledge your thoughts, interests, and personal beliefs and how each of them contribute to the way you feel – is the effect positive or negative?  Pay attention to your triggers in arguments or those that quickly shift your mood so that you can better navigate them in the future. The more you tune in to what you’re feeling, the more your vibe will change.

2. Practice the art of saying no.

Saying no confidently helps you to establish healthy boundaries, allowing you to prioritize your mental health and leave negative energy at the door. Learning when and how to say no can be difficult for many, so a good question to ask is: will saying yes enrich my life or leave me depleted?  When you say “yes” to others, make sure you are not saying “no” to yourself. The more you practice saying no, the easier and more comfortable it will become.

3. Find the people who light you up.

Pay attention to who you’re with when you feel like your best and most authentic self, the people who leave you beaming and inspired after every single hang. Then, spend as much time as you can with that crew and consider what it is about them that you so enjoy. There’s a good chance that the qualities you love in them are in you, too – their positive, safe energy likely just brings it out more than others.

4. Allow yourself to really feel.

Emotions flow through our bodies at all times, but it can sometimes feel easier to suppress, ignore, or even deny them rather than face the way we feel. That can quickly become a heavy load to carry and set us back on our journey of self-reflection. It’s important to acknowledge that however you’re feeling, no matter how dark or scary, emotions are an important tool for helping us think and make decisions that are really aligned with our desires and needs. When they pass by, listen to what they’re telling you and try to experience them without judgment. Keep in mind that no feeling is ever final, and this too shall pass.

We will get into many more stories about self as the month goes on. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. How do you practice self-care? Let us know in the comments below or text The Local Optimist Hotline at310.299.9414.