Do you know who you really are? I mean who you truly are– outside of your kids, spouse, family or friends? When I meet new people, namely women–and ask them about themselves, they have a tendency to define themselves in terms of the roles they play. For instance, some women might say, ‘I’m a mom or ‘I’m married’, seldom do they talk about themselves or what defines them outside of the context of their marriage or motherhood.
One of the most transformative things we can ever do for our wellbeing is remember who we are. Who we are in the absence of our kids, partners, sisters or friends. In life, we develop false identities to help us survive in the world. It’s a protective mechanism. We learn to seek approval or create a certain image that we show to the world and it’s often a false one. For many of us it stems from childhood. But there’s a healthy type of selfishness that we as women should all be applying to our lives. Sometimes, the healthiest thing we can do is to stop and consider how we can take care of ourselves. While this seems obvious to some people, many of us struggle with the idea of putting ourselves first. We were raised to think we should always put others before ourselves and ignore our own needs—that it is somehow arrogant or self-centered, for us to want to do things for ourselves.
I find that women in particular, have a long generational history of over-accommodating other people’s needs and under-accommodating our own, even when we know that we are neglecting ourselves. We’re overtaken by hockey schedules, dance recitals, swimming lessons and our careers but where does this leave us? Often in continued states of stress, resentment and unhappiness.
So what should we do? Personally, I’ve found that carving out various times throughout the day to workout, meditate, journal, listen to audio books or podcasts has really helped me. Notice that I said: various times throughout the day? An hour at the gym won’t cut it. There’s 24 hours in a day and if we want to stay in touch with who we really are then it’s imperative that we embrace solitude multiple times a day. Even if it’s taking the first fifteen minutes of our lunch break to sit silently in our cars or getting up an extra 45 minutes earlier to write in our journal.
At the end of the day I think some of us have lost touch with who we really are by constantly sacrificing our own needs for the sake of others. Ultimately, these behaviours inflict on our happiness, personal relationships and our emotional wellbeing.