How do you define yourself? What values are important to you?
Here is an exercise that we sometimes use in our self-development courses. Take a blank sheet of paper and make a list of 10 words that describe the most important aspects of who you are. Some items may be your social roles, such as ‘husband’ ‘daughter’; or you may define yourself through physical characteristics such as ‘tall’ or ‘red haired’. Some people define themselves through their intellectual and belief systems with words like “curious’ ‘smart’ ‘vegetarian’; and others use practical skills ‘swimmer’ ‘artist’ or ‘builder’. You may use all categories, but whatever you use choose ten words or phrases that you believe best define who you are.
Now take another piece of paper and choose the one item from your list that is the most fundamental to who you are and list it as number one on the new list. Then decide what is the second most important and put that down as number 2. Continue through all the ten words or phrases and list them in the order of most important to who you really are.
Next comes the most interesting part of the exercise. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and try to see yourself as described in your second list. Take time to see if you can create a mental picture of the person with all the characteristics you have listed. Now review the item you listed at number 10 on your second list. This is the least important part of who you are so image that this aspect is removed from you. Imagine yourself without it, how would that make a difference to who you really are? How do you think you would act differently? What about the way other people would interact with you without it? How hard was it to give it up? Do you like yourself better or worse?.
Now continue the fantasy by removing, in reverse order, all the things that you believed were essential to you and spend time considering how it would change you as you remove them from your life. Do this one item at a time.
After you have gone through the list this way, now imagine reclaiming the items one by one, and consider the changes made; continue until you are back where you started.
How do you feel now about the items you believe are fundamental to who you are. Many people find that this is a powerful tool to clarify what is truly fundamental to their characters. They claim that they get a much clearer picture of the parts of their character that they really value and what they can happily remove without loss.
What you have constructed is an image of yourself, that is fundamental to who you really are. It is of course a very basic one, but that is important because we asked you to consider those items that you believed were truly important to define who you believe you are. Another quite interesting exercise is to ask someone who is very close to you to list the 10 items they believe define you and ask them to list them in order of importance. I can be quite illuminating.
It should also highlight the fact that we build our self-image on how people around us react to us. And it starts first in the family. The reactions of our immediate family will start to define how we view ourselves. The messages, both verbal and non-verbal, are the first indication of how we feel about ourselves.
Dorothy Law Nolte gave us the key :
If a child lives with criticism he learns to condemn,
If a child lives with hostility he learns to fight,
If a child lives with ridicule he learns to be shy,
If a child lives with shame he leans to feel guilty,
If a child lives with tolerance he learns to be patient,
If a child lives with encouragement he learns confidence,
If a child lives with praise he learns to appreciate,
If a child lives with fairness he learns justice,
If a child lives with security he leans to have faith,
If a child lives with approval he learns to like himself,
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship he learns to find love in the world.
Some time the lessons we learn in childhood about ourselves can have a dramatic effect on how we view ourselves as adults. Once this idea of ourself is firmly cemented into our self-belief it takes a really big effort to change it. If we have positive self-concepts we often exhibit positive life skills, while if we emerge from childhood with negative self-concepts it can have a devastating effect on our ability to grow and develop as an adult.
The way that this occurs is through that well known phenomenon “The self-fulfilling prophecy” or what we truly expect to happen usually does. At Trischel we call it the four pillars of negativity. So if you think that your sense of self-belief could use some work to accent the positive – why not join us on October the 16th, for a half day seminar which will give you practical skills to apply in your life to make change. In fact, why not join us for breakfast?
We would love to see you and help you bring more positivity into your life – after all, as the advert says “You’re worth it“
Michele @ Trischel