WHAT/ Self-Awareness Exercises
On Tuesday 20Oct at 10am we were greeted by Gemma Ross, Mental Health and Wellbeing Facilitator. Our journey of self-exploration began with some gentle stretching and a quick body check-in. Then we started to slowly chip away at our carefully constructed impressions of oneself. First by listing three things that make us who we are today, right now. The next task was to identify three more negative things about ourselves. After contemplating the list of the six features that define us, we were asked to express what these features mean to us in a quick sketch. The final exercise was to create a mind map, by placing our name in the centre of the page and then writing our six features around it – creating the first layer. The goal was to build upon the existing layer, to branch out like a tree, to find ways how we can grow as a person.
Who Am I + What makes me tick?
NOW WHAT/ The Deep Dive
Before the session even started, I was already a bit sceptic about attempting to figure ‘who I am’ during a 40min timeslot. The stretching exercises at the beginning didn’t convince me either but I didn’t let the feeling of doubt stop me from fully participating and immersing myself into the task at hand. The first free features that I listed were – active, overanalyzer, and private. I was startled, when Gemma specified that these should be our positive traits, as I found it hard to come up with something that would fit into the good bracket. Everything that crossed my mind was in the grey area, depending on the context the trait could be either used for personal growth or as a tool to self-destruction. My negative trait list featured – controlling, inability to maintain relationships, self-critical. These negative traits, except for one example, are again in the grey area. But I have to say that I am quite comfortable with my greyness. Who’s to say what is good and what is bad? If someone were to put Energetic as their positive trait then who’s to say that this trait could cause problems in certain situations?
I was happy to see a creative sketching component in today’s task. The first drawing was a couple of squiggled lines and blobs with a straight-line going across. Not much thought went into that. It was just the result of what my hand felt comfortable with at that moment.
With my set of ‘grey’ traits it was quite difficult to build out my map. I went so deep into my own head that I thought I might start crying. I wrote some of it down anyway with a plan to take a breather and to revisit it later.
After this much needed break, I was able to write down the following:
- I have created a wall of protection around me.
- I am not necessarily a bad person because of these traits. I just happen to have a lot of ‘grey’ traits, which if not managed well can easily lead me to self-destructive or bad behaviour.
- I want to have control and to understand everything so that I can prepare for what will/could happen and to make sure that I act accordingly to the situation.
- I would be a nightmare to live with.
The most interesting takeaway was this:
“I want to do things the ‘right way’ but what is ‘right’ is mostly defined by others, not me.
Perhaps, that is why I feel like ‘a knot’, a tangled mess tied together by others and struggling to undo itself free.”
This realization inspired how I expressed myself in the second sketch which I think reflects me much better than my first attempt.
When someone asks “Who are you?” I tend to fall into this cycle of thinking.
Who I Am - depends on - What I do - depends on - Who I Am - depends on - What I do
The beautiful thing is that this loop can be changed or altered with self-awareness.
If you think about it, everything in life is a loop - what we design depends on the form of life we live and the form of life we live depends on what we design. However, it doesn't mean that we are stuck, what it rather means is that everything is somehow connected.
SO WHAT/ Know thyself
- I know that my ‘grey’ traits are an issue but the key thing here is that I am aware.
- I will try to manage these traits to the best of my abilities and to use them to push myself forward instead of letting them drag me down.
- Life is a process not a start to finish line race.
- I can raise these issues in a future wellbeing session with Gemma.