Dear Dr. Faizal,
How do I know if my perception of myself is accurate? In Canadian society, people aren’t brutally honest with others because there is such an emphasis on manners and politeness. It’s hard for me to know if I view myself in the same way that others view me, especially when I can’t rely on others to tell me if I need to work on certain aspects of my personality. I just want to be awesome. Do you have any tricks or tips on how to get out of my head and assess myself in an unbiased way?
– Who Am I?
Dear Who Am I,
It seems to me that you are searching for your self (that’s good), but in all the wrong places (something that needs to be addressed). I mean, you could very well give all your family members, friends and acquaintances an anonymous questionnaire with questions like, “What do you like about me?”, “What do you not like about me?”, and “What could I improve on?” Give them a stamped envelop in which they would mail you their completed forms. Since this would be anonymous, they could be completely truthful about what they think of you. But I’m wondering if it’s important for you to view yourself the way people view you?
When we conform to what others expect of us, we lose our true selves in the process, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re looking for, right? As I sometimes say to my clients, “You know yourself better than any other person knows you.”
Now, if you really want to gain more introspection into who you are on a scientific level and further examine your thoughts, feelings, and motives, you could take a personality test. One test that is popular nowadays is 16personalities.com, a free online questionnaire which, according to the website, combines Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types and Katharine Briggs’ Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to make this assessment highly reliable and accurate across many cultures and languages.
If the results of this assessment resonate with you, that’s wonderful! Then, you can accept yourself and your present attributes. As the late Mister Rogers, from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, used to say, “You are special just the way you are!”
Validate your ‘specialness’ every day through affirmations. Throughout the day, especially when you wake up in the morning, say the following mantras to yourself:
- I deserve to be happy and successful
- I love and accept myself
- I am awesome
- I have the power to further improve myself
While I admire Mister Rogers for helping build children’s self-esteem for a couple of generations, I also believe in continuous self-growth for adults.
To continue growing, and improving ourselves as adults, do this exercise: Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write the attributes (identities, traits, beliefs, and values) of yourself today. On the other side write the attributes of your ‘ideal’ self (what you want to aspire to become). Then, think of what you can do to close the gap. In doing this exercise a couple times each year, you would continue to grow towards your goal of becoming “awesome.”
In finding out who you are and working towards improving yourself, remember a lesson from William Shakespeare, who advised: “To thy own self be true.”