Why on earth would you want to dig around inside your mind and look at all the information contained there? Can anything good come from examining all your stuff – some, probably not-so-comfortable? My answer, of course, is unequivocally YES! Having been doing this off and on my whole life, more especially the last few years, I can highly recommend it for the following reasons:
1) To know and understand your core values, the very structure underpinning your life. You may have a general idea what they are, but have you written them down and examined them lately? Are they current, relevant and complete? This is terribly useful information and actually writing it down is really helpful.
2) To know what you believe. Your beliefs inform your thoughts, so if you find a thought uncomfortable, take it back to it’s source. If you believe you must be a Doctor, but really don’t want to, why? Tracing it back to your Father telling you that medicine is the only worthwhile profession, you can see that it’s not your belief at all, you absorbed it from someone else. You can then accept it or reject it.
3) To know the many facets of you. We all have various traits or behaviors that we use to interact with others, in various situations. These can form sort of mini personalities within our major personalities. These will not be the same in an interaction with your parents as they are in an interaction with your best friends. We use the parts of us in each situation that help us cope with the situation. Who are you with your friends, partner, at work, with strangers? How are they different or the same? Knowing which mini personalities have which traits can help you know who can cope with what situations best – sort of self-maximization.
4) To understand your feelings. The most important thing to remember here is to learn to know and recognize WHAT you are feeling – name it. Strong feelings need to be respected, they have lots of information for us if we look. If, we sit with them and feel them all the way through. Feelings are energy, they come in, stay awhile and pass through –if,we don’t push them away. When you let them go all the way through, you can get to a place where you can name them, examine them and trace them back to the thoughts behind them. That’s where the gold is, that gives us the chance to try and change the painful thoughts to something a bit less painful. Depending on the feeling, this may be a tiny bit at a time or some bigger changes that bring relief faster. Recently I finally dealt with a persistent bad feeling I’d been unknowingly pushing away and it was like detaching the bad feeling from the memory, so it no longer causes me pain. Good feelings have information too. There are thoughts behind them as well, that you may be able to use to get more good feelings.
5) This is the big one – To know what you really want. And, of course, the flip side, what you don’t want. I’m constantly surprised by what a tough question this is for people, especially those of us who were raised to be well-behaved people who fit in. Women especially, have a fear of seeming “selfish” in going after what they really want, good caretakers don’t do that. Knowing what you really do and do not want takes some serious self-examination, it’s in there, you just have to find it.
Today’s life involves lots of change, it’s constant. The more we know about ourselves, the more flexible we can be, the more quickly we can adapt to change. Change can be scary, so being secure in what we value, believe and want can ease the fear, allowing us to be more flexible. I see it as the choice between two equations: lack of knowledge>fear>rigidity, which leads to anxiety. Or we can have, knowledge>flexibility> adaptation, which leads to freedom. Easy choice, who doesn't love freedom?