What is self-work?

Self-work is the process of understand why we are the way we are and working to change our lives so that we are aligned with reality, in order to get what we want out of life. It involves looking at parts of ourselves that are stuck in old ways of being that no longer serve us — aspects of us that may have mistaken notions about life, about who we are and what is possible for us in reality.

It involves healing parts of us that are stuck in the past, parts of us whose growth was stunted or halted through traumatic childhood experiences — experiences the we must revisit and make sense of in order to process.

To heal we must become conscious of our behaviours, our thought processes and our feelings that drive our personalities. The goal is to make sense of those feelings, thoughts and behaviours; how they came to be, what motivates them, what memories lay stored up within them. We want to work to understand what happened to us to produce such psychological issues, and to heal ourselves through a process of re-parenting ourselves.

If we were neglected by those around us as a child, we would need to give ourselves the healthy attention we required in order to heal our previous neglect — this is the process of re-parenting ourselves.

Aspects of us can be stuck in past survival strategies. We can do certain behaviours that once made sense in childhood, but no longer make sense as an adult. We develop strategies and thought processes in childhood to make sense of our parents world we inhabited. Unfortunately, if we had traumatic experiences in childhood, our sense of the world has been distorted by our parents and others forces around us, like extended family, or siblings, teachers and societal figures.

For example, we may have had to take on a belief that we were worthless, if our parents believed we were, in order to survive in our parents twisted world view. This belief would have been taken on as a survival strategy that made sense, in order to fit into our parents world we had to align ourselves with their views. But, now as adults the belief becomes maladaptive. Childhood is over and we no longer need to fit into an abusive parents world.

A part of self-work is identifying these painful parts, and helping ourselves to process, heal and move on from counter-productive beliefs like this one.

Self-work is not only about healing past issues but developing ourselves through new experiences as well. Taking on new challenges — be it getting a different job, meeting a new group of people, trying to write a song, buying a house, talking to a stranger, writing an essay, etc. There is a huge variety of experiences out there that can offer us growth and help us develop and shape ourselves and our personalised view of how life works. It helps us learn lessons, develop our principles, learn new skills, increase our value, and refine our discipline so that we can get more of what we want from life.

Life is about growth. Every new day is new life. A new day we can write our own histories, carve out our own lives, made possible when we are armed with the knowledge of who we are.

Check out my video accompaniment to this essay:

I offer a service to help you in your own self-therapy process. You can find more details here: peaceatlast.co.uk

By Matt Kemp