This is an email from Letter to Your Big Self, a newsletter by Big Self.
The Most Important Relationship of Your Life
Dear Big Selfer,
Here’s an obvious truth of life that everyone needs to be reminded of sometimes:
The only person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is you.
Even the most intimate partnership doesn’t come close to that. People in your life will come and go. Some of them will stay. But there’s just one person you take with you anywhere you go.
Even for that reason alone, it’s worth spending some time getting to know yourself. Self-awareness makes your life fuller because it shows you how to support yourself, manage challenges, and which things bring you the most joy.
This week’s Letter is a direct invitation to introspect, reflect on your inner self, and shed some light on those corners of your psyche that might have been in the shadow. If you don’t know where to start, here are three reads that may show you the way.
Defining your core values is rarely a straightforward pursuit. How can you express everything that you care about so deeply in just a few words?
In his piece, Chad gives some useful pointers for how to look for your heart’s desire — which is a reflection of your values. It’s true that such a search is rarely linear and straightforward. But one has to start somewhere:
“Desire is ultimately about how you want your feelings, experiences, and values to line up in your life. (…)
Experiences don’t just mean peak experiences like the time you mountain-biked Moab or swam across the English Channel. There are experiences of love and intimacy. Experiences of going to ballparks, taking walks in the woods, filing reports, meeting deadlines, buying or selling material things, listening or playing music, eating good food with friends, going to poetry readings, lifting weights, intermittent fasting, attending communal functions, laying concrete, making beer, opening a store, quilting. I could go on.
The question is what are the experiences you want to make happen in your life?”
Realize this: the variety of experiences available in your life is infinite. The question is, which ones are you going to pursue? Which ones do you feel to be aligned with your values?
Read the full story, How to Define Your Core Values.
Your inner self may not just be about who you are right now. What if it also consists of all the lives you could have lived if just one little detail went differently in your life?
We all have the seeds of unlived potential inside of us. Those “past and imaginary selves,” as Marianna calls them, might be crucial parts of who you are.
“Often, we value who we are as we regret who we haven’t become. We seem to find meaning in what has never happened as if our present, current self was only a shadow of the selves we might have been. It makes sense, then, that for many of us the story of our life is the story of the lives we have been prevented from living. And in a way, it is. Because what are we if not the sum of the story we can tell and the ones we can imagine?”
Our sense of self derives from stories — it’s hard to argue with that. Maybe it’s worth acknowledging those “unlived” stories as equally valid parts of yourself?
Read the full story, On Cherishing Our Past and Imaginary Selves.
The “inner critic” in our minds gets a bad rap for bringing us down, making us doubt ourselves, and never feeling like we’re good enough. But when we see that critical voice as “wrong,” this just adds one more item to the list of things we need to fight with.
What if you could accept the inner critic as a natural — and, evolutionary important — part of your mind? Maybe this acceptance would help you put that nagging voice into perspective, taking away some of its power. That’s what I tried to encourage in my recent piece:
“We all have two voices inside of us — the critical and the compassionate one. In what proportion you listen to each determines how you feel and what you think about yourself. (…)
The inner critic tries to keep you safe and points out what could be improved in the future. When you’re in a group of people whose opinions you value, it’ll watch out for you not to say anything stupid. Or, if it believes you already did — it’ll beat you up a little, to avoid a similar awkward situation in the future.
The inner nurturer has a different purpose. Its goal is to encourage you and help you believe in yourself. It’ll make you feel proud for even small accomplishments and empathize with you when things don’t go so well. After all, you did your best — and that’s what matters.”
The trick to dealing with your inner critic usually lies in balancing it with the inner nurturer. To get some ideas on how to do that, you can read the full piece below:
“All of us will fail at being who we aren’t. But we will always succeed at being who we are.”
That’s one of the simples recipes for success — being who you are. If you really think about it, you cannot possibly fail at this.
Sure, it may take time to dig through the layers of your conditioning and the masks you learned to put on. The search may be confusing at times. The true self may seem like it’s hiding from you.
But in the end: What better strategy can you pick to play the game of life than to establish a good, loving relationship with yourself?
Thank you for reading and have a great week
— Marta, editor of Big Self