How well do you know yourself?

In a guest post we did for Daily Muse, we wrote about how we see self-love. Today, we begin a series of blog posts to help you love yourself. There are many roads to self-love, but there are a few things you can do to connect with it, and the only way is to really know who you are. We will give you the tools to get to know yourself better in the coming weeks.

Understanding who you are at the core, and knowing your true preferences, and the reasons for your choices, is not as easy as it seems, because getting to know yourself is a process. It takes time. To get you on that road, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you like?
  • Do you like something simply because someone else likes it?
  • Do you look to others for advice for every decision you make?
  • When you make a decision, is it what you want, or is it a decision that is aligned with someone else’s preference?
  • What are your values?
  • Are your choices representative of those values?

Looking closer at your likings and examining your decisions is just the beginning of self-discovery. It is important because if you say yes to every invitation or every request without proper consideration, you may end up doing things you don’t like and making decisions that are not aligned with your values.

For now, just keep this in mind: if you do the right thing for you–not necessarily what seems right to others–you will begin to make decisions that lead to a more authentic life. And you cannot make a mistake. Every decision you make paves the way for personal growth. Knowing yourself, and doing what is right for you, is the beginning of self-love.

What to do about life’s little interruptions

Interruptions are inevitable. When you want to get something done, and you live with others, there will be times when your plans are thwarted. Sometimes, you really can accomplish what you set out to do no matter what, but it is less enjoyable and the intrusions lead to frustration. How do you recover from being interrupted? Do you keep going back to it after each pause, or do you give up? There is no right or wrong answer for this, but living in the “now” can really help.

Pema Chodron once said: “Every moment is unique, unknown, completely fresh.” In one of her talks, she discusses the fact that even when you fold laundry, it is a unique experience. Housework appears repetitive, but it is not. Recognizing that every moment is new and precious and that you really never know what is going to happen next, may at least help you deal with the nature of change. After all, the interruption may not have been part of your plan, but it is life. It is what is happening at the moment.

And there are practical things you can do too. Plan your tasks and do them in spite of what is going on around you. If you do not finish what you started—unless you have a hard deadline, schedule it for another time. If you do have time constraints, arrange your environment so you are not interrupted again. But when you plan to do a few ordinary tasks, and they don’t get done, lighten up. As Scarlett O’Hara famously said “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Sometimes, we have to just call it a day and start again the next.

Consciousness: What do we allow in?

Our minds absorb what is in our environment, but what do you allow in? When Rhonda was listening to Pandora the other day, she noticed that she was hearing negative ads. She could recite all of the silent heart attack warnings for women, and then she realized that Pandora Internet Radio had her demographic information and targeted the advertising to her age and gender. When she made herself 25 years old, the ads were more upbeat. This is simply one experience, but had Rhonda continued to listen to the symptoms of a heart attack over and over again, guess what? She would have the idea burned into her consciousness, and she might have actually suffered from some of the symptoms on the list. To rid herself of such negativity, all she had to do was change her preferences. And you can change your preferences in real life too.

We can all make adjustments in our external environment. We can turn off the television when the news comes on, and meditate instead. We can turn the volume on the phone down, and actually not answer it if we don’t feel like talking. We can say no to invitations if we don’t want to be around certain people. And we can skip the horror flick if it makes us physically sick. But we can say yes to what we want to do most, even if it is out of our comfort zone. Allowing things in that we want, and creating boundaries around things we don’t, is key to a successful life.

The point is that if we just go with the flow, and not make conscious decisions, they are made for us. We let things—audio, video, people– into our experience that do not soothe our souls. Then we experience stress at the end of the day because of our lack of participation in life. In part, saying no to what we don’t want to let into our experience, and saying yes to what we do want, can go a long way to a happy and healthy life.