Being more authentic by self reflective writing.
Writing has become a pastime of mine ever since I became interested in honing in on being more authentic. As a compulsive people pleaser throughout my youth, I craved being in social situations without anxiety. What has allowed me to be myself a lot more comes down to a process of self reflection that I practise on a daily basis. Nothing extravagant or complex, just writing out what is going on in my mind to approach later on with critical thinking. In this process I began to reap the benefits of reviewing my busy inner world and finding clarity.
I have dealt with intense depression and anxiety in my life, which erupted a few years ago leading me to having no job, no money, and poor physical health that almost stopped me from going back to work. The funny thing is all I needed was clarity, and that becomes apparent when you reach an absolute low point. My saving grace was reasoning that I couldn’t fall off the floor and is what got me striving for regaining my once exuberant, enthusiastic approach to living.
By writing I have put an end to repeating thoughts that don’t serve me and what I mean by that is thoughts that are based on incorrect assumptions. We are constantly reacting to our life and making decisions based on assumptions that we can only become aware of through being honest with ourselves. We must be gruelling in being honest with ourself because this is the only way we can lift ourselves out of repression of our true self that is waiting to be set free.
We may be fighting a war in our mind that can be prevented from recurring once we put our assumptions under a spotlight. For me writing allows me evaluate my thought process since I can read and re-read over my self expression and approach thought streams at different times and therefore in different frames of mind. What seemed to be correct for me when I expressed something yesterday may be wrong upon reevaluation the next day.
It doesn’t have to be journaling numerous pages everyday. It can be jotting down thoughts on your phone or a notepad whenever they come to mind. The important thing is you catch yourself in thought streams that are repeatedly coming up or causing you problems. It’s also important to record your personal revelations to reflect on later. Many times I have gone over things I have written and have been impressed and thankful that I could read over them when I needed a reminder.
What is at the heart of this is honing the ability to express ourselves honestly in whatever way works for us and being able to critically evaluate ourselves for the sake of learning and growth. The more I express, the more I have to evaluate and learn from, hence, the more I become my own feedback mechanism. Expressing to others and receiving feedback externally is also helpful but doesn’t necessarily develop our ability to think critically because the feedback we are receiving may not be well thought through. In addition, if you are a critical person (note the difference) you are likely to become even more critical of your thought processes, which inhibits learning and growth.
The beauty of this process is that you don’t need external help, which is often costly. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with a counsellor but it is not always possible and is not always necessary. In addition, we have amazing free resources like YouTube and Medium to reap the benefits of other people’s perspectives and what has or hasn’t worked for them. By reflecting on my writings with knowledge and wisdom I gain from life experience and other people, I naturally learned to critically evaluate not only my own thinking but other people’s as well.
Another benefit, which became apparent to me when I started looking to my friends and family for help with my mental health, is that we can put too much stress on them if they aren’t capable of helping, even causing resentment or anger if we seem to be ungrateful for their advice. Learning to rely on myself has been very empowering and will be a skill I can rely on for the rest of my life.
One of the most powerful thoughts I had to come to terms with is “why can’t people be better? We can save this planet if we all change!”. Which is hilarious to me now because there were a great deal of assumptions I had made that gave it so much power that I would devise an infinite number of ways of getting people to know their true self and how this could end up effecting the world in a positive way. I never ended up doing anything with this mind you, I just allowed the self righteousness of that thought to continue to bias my judgment. I would write and speak to people on the topic and come up with ways of implementing the ideas but I couldn’t admit to myself that I was the same as everyone else.
The way I combated my inability to actually do something about these things was passionately discussing was to write even more with the idea in mind that I would end up clarifying to myself what actions I needed to take to make a difference in the world. I’ve filled out books of stuff that just sits in my drawers at home, not being useful to anyone but me. Now I’m starting to share my thoughts because I want to know if they will be of service to others as they have been to me.
I also want to get to the point where deciphering how to get real with ourselves is a common practise for people to empower themselves and embody their authentic self at a time where we are all gripped by the fear of doing so. It is a societal disease that doesn’t have to continue if we unlock the ways to push ourselves into it. The more we push into our fears the more we can move past them. Let’s become a less fearful society and embody powerful personal change.
I will delve deeper into this topic in time to come.
If you’ve found this topic intriguing leave me a comment, I would love to hear what other ideas and practises have worked for you.