“The quickest path to growthful change is not via force (our own or someone else’s) but through fully embracing the person we are” (Beisser,1970). I found these words very relevant and at times poignant as I embarked on my journey of self-discovery. My self-assessment involved the process of looking deep within myself to explore and identify my values, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and attitudes that are essential to my identity as an individual.
These traits could be both positive and negative with a motivation to seek information that would confirm or dissipate the uncertainties within me. I was not aware that this journey would challenge my self-concept through the realization that I may not be the individual/personality I had perceived myself to be. However, in the long run this may mean that I may have to work harder on myself in order to achieve my desired goals in the future, and as a result my self-esteem would be enhanced further than where it had been before my journey of self-discovery began.
The corona virus pandemic has brought to my realization how fickle life can be. Plans that had been made weeks, months even years before having had to be postponed or even cancelled all together. I felt and experienced a series of losses ranging from loss of freedom to do what I wanted/intended, loss of structure/security, loss of choice/voice, loss of trust and loss of control among many other losses. I could not have predicted how this was going to affect me emotionally, physically, psychologically even financially.
I experienced anger at what was happening, denial that it would affect me directly, bargaining with myself that I would be OK if only things would get back to “normal”. I went through periods of depression which not only took a toll on me but my family as well. Other times I would wake up full of positivity and acceptance of the situation and choosing to make the most out of what was now being called the “new normal”. This become a roller coaster of emotions going from one stage to the next. I denied myself the time or space to fully understand and appreciate what was happening to me psychologically and the impact it was having on my mental health.
I finally decided to STOP! take a breather and find out what was really going on. My journey of self-discovery was about to begin. Exploring feelings, identifying thoughts, challenging behaviour, confronting beliefs and examining values that I had held so dear. Questioning relationships that I had taken for granted or had been take for granted in. I began to listen to the conversation I was having within myself, about myself and towards myself. I realized that my instinct was a force that had always lived within me and I now had to call upon it whenever I needed to especially during these very uncertain times.
This experience proved to be revealing, insightful and at times painful. I allowed myself to confront and work on all the negative traits I identified within myself, acknowledge and embrace all the positive ones. I felt a new sense of confidence and calmness once I allowed myself to fully be me, even with all my faults and weaknesses. I do not have to be perfect for I am a work in progress after all a masterpiece takes time to complete!
I am now more aware of my thoughts, feelings and emotions how they can collectively affect my behaviour and ultimately my mental health. I have come to the realization that the state of my mental health is my PERSONAL responsibility. I need to be more intentional about practising self-care even when things get a bit overwhelming.
I have learnt that I cannot plan everything in my life (and that’s OK) but just knowing who I am is the foundation to an amazing life full of awareness, appreciation and self-love. I choose to be mindful which means being aware and fully present in every moment, thought, feeling and emotion. “Individuals have the capacity to self-regulate when they are aware of what is happening in and around them (Brown,2005).
Something positive did come out of the Coronavirus pandemic after all. ME!