Written by Brian Swope, MFT

“Finding Yourself” was originally posted on PhiladelphiaMFT.com.

What makes you you is what makes you unique. For some people, that happens sooner or more easily than for others. Not the speed with which they find it, but the act of finding him/herself and the acceptance of that is a sign of a strong and centered person.

This journey usually happens when you are single, or in a relationship that provides the security to make the trip. It removes much of our anxiety because the certainty provides the stability needed, but also the knowledge of what is needed when facing uncertainty. It is entwined with self-esteem but it goes beyond that.

Finding yourself makes you stronger on your own and stronger in the relationships of which you are a part.

1. Explore. Have a curiosity about yourself and the world around you. Go deeper with the things you know you like and see if there is more in them for you. Try new things to test yourself, meet new people, and find out if there is more for you. You’ll also learn what you don’t like.

2. Respect. “To thine own self be true,” Shakespeare said. Compromise is a part of any relationship, but when it comes to self care and your own morals and deeper beliefs, ignoring or taking short cuts may mean paying for it later, from a physical healthy/mental health point. Too tired, sick, or feeling bad about a decision are big potholes in your journey and is something very much in your control.

3. Trust. Trust is something people think is placed onto another person, but it starts first with yourself because others can and will let you down. Know your abilities to stretch them when you feel you can or you feel you have the support needed to do more. Develop your gut feeling by first starting with the small and listening to it and coming to understand it before, during, and after.

Each of these paths to a more insightful and centered self can be taken in many different ways. The process will be an enriching one for yourself and the connections you have with others. Yoga and mindfulness are easily accessible on-ramps, because each is inherently about exploration, respect and trust and you develop these traits on a physical, mental and emotional level.

Therapy can be a great guide, too, especially if there is a history of not understanding these concepts or for someone who has had many violations of respect or trust – both internally and externally.

Regardless of how you develop any or all of these, the stronger you are as an individual, the stronger and better you can be as a family member, friend, and intimate partner.

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