Who are you?
Who Am I? is a question that has been examined through the ages.
Are you your body? Or, is your body like the clothes you wear – discarded when it’s worn out and it’s time to move on? Are you your thoughts? Or are thoughts only what you are thinking? Not who you are? Are you your feelings? No one can tell you. Only you can answer the question Who Am I? for yourself.
The influence of your parents and the emotional environment in which you are brought up partly forms who you become. If your parents are mature, stable, well-balanced and wise people, they can give your sense of ME, of who you are, some solid foundations. If that is the case you flourish and express your essential nature naturally. You easily achieve, make friends, have fun and may move through the challenges you face during adolescence and life, in a relatively easy way.
When the people around you, the conditions in which you are brought up, do not support, nurture and encourage who you really are, your essential nature can become hidden, buried, discarded or, at worst, seems to be destroyed. When your Essential nature is not recognised or valued in ways that allow you to flower it may be hidden under self-protective layers and masks.
When you are able to connect with what is essentially you, you can live life fully and freely. When you allow the purity of your essential nature its expression, your gifts are given to the World.
How Have You Become?
What experiences have formulated your sense of yourself? Who or what gives value to you? All your social interactions, sensations and responses to your life’s experience affect the idea you have of yourself. All your perceptions of the world are recorded in your brain as well as in cellular memory banks throughout your body.
If you have had a supportive family in which to grow, you may take it for granted. You have been blessed. Others have not been as fortunate as you. If you have not been taken care of properly, you can now take responsibility for your own life and choose to recreate your own sense of who you are. You can become more self-aware and confident. You can reconnect with your essential nature if you have lost that connection. It is possible! It can be challenging, fun and freeing!
If you are willing to go beyond the experiences of your childhood and the belief that you are only a body that has thoughts and feelings, you can begin to experience yourself as part of a much bigger picture. To take more responsibility, you can acknowledge, that for reasons you may not yet be aware of, you chose your present circumstances to learn from. That’s a great place to start. If you don’t do this, you may feel like a victim of the circumstances of your life. This may not allow any desirable changes to take place for you.
What is Self-Esteem and Why is it Important?
Self-esteem is one way you can measure how you feel about yourself. It is important that you learn to nurture positive thoughts about yourself to maintain it. If you have not been nurtured or have been given lots of negative messages, the chances are your self-esteem is low.
If you have low self-esteem you may not like yourself, believe you can’t achieve good results at school or become self-destructive by abusing drugs, alcohol or in other ways.
Low self-esteem often makes people do things for the wrong reasons; good deeds can be a cover up for feeling bad about yourself. You may think you have to prove you are worthwhile. Inside you don’t believe it. If you know you’re okay there’s nothing to prove so you do things for honest reasons.
Possibly 85% of people in our society have low self-esteem. Think about that! Even millionaires, top executives, pop stars, sports idols, teachers and parents. It may look like they have everything going for them, but inside they may not like themselves, are depressed or suicidal.
If you don’t like or see what’s good about yourself, listen to the good things other people say about you, and believe them!
“Self-esteem is one of the most important things in life. Being comfortable with yourself, talking to other people and getting on in life – you need it for absolutely everything. My self-esteem is not as high as I want it to be. I could be more confident. When I am, my self-esteem rises. I want to live a successful life, so I’m working on it.” – Alan (16)
Most people like and are attracted to people who have high self-esteem. They express inner qualities we admire. By discovering your essential nature you become self-confident.
Developing Strength of Character
Character develops when you are being rubbed up against or tested by life. It happens when things don’t go smoothly and stretch you. It does not happen when you do not keep your word, are not honest with yourself and others or if you always get your own way. If you don’t have to contribute to household chores when you don’t feel like it, are disrespectful and abusive to others or sulk and are moody when you don’t win or get what you expected, you may end up being a person who has a weak character. You may become someone who does not activate your will, has no resolve, cannot be trusted and is not honourable.
The following suggestions can help you to strengthen your character:
- Be true to your word – Do your best to honour your word and be respectful in what you say.
- If you make an agreement to do something – Do it! If you find it’s impossible or you change your mind, communicate that to the person. Make another arrangement. When you are true to your word and follow through others can trust you and you have a sense of yourself that is trustworthy.
- Use your speech as a gift to others – Don’t put others down, this is hurtful. Say encouraging and uplifting things. Can you use your speech to improve the quality of life for yourself and those around you? You can speak of your gratitude to friends and parents or encourage someone who is shy or fed-up.
If you say bad things about other people you are trying to raise your self-esteem, but you are just lowering it. If you say good things about other people, you feel better about yourself. – Angie (14).
NO – A Big, Small Word
It’s useful to start practising saying NO! now. Check out how it feels for you. Say NO sometimes to things that you like to be involved in, just to test your strength. Say NO before saying YES to things that may get you into trouble with the law or before you do something that hurts yourself or someone else. As you gain more confidence in yourself, say NO and explain why you are refusing to be involved in any harmful activity.
You have the power of choice in your life. It can be a life-changing power. In everything you do you either honour, love and respect who you are – or you don’t.
Accountability Versus Apology
The word SORRY is misused often. You may see children hanging their heads in shame when parents are telling them off for doing something that has upset them. They are told to say sorry. You may remember this happening to you. You may not have done anything wrong in your own eyes. This sorry word can be confusing.
You can say sorry and not mean it. You may tell white lies to get off easy. There are other ways that can be more meaningful and empowering. For example, you have a date and you’re an hour late. Instead of saying sorry, do something to make up that hour. If you damage someone’s property, be willing to replace it or get it fixed.
You are becoming more responsible and thoughtful when you do this. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
Boredom comes about through inactivity, lack of motivation or relying on something outside of yourself to stimulate you. If you experience boredom, it could be because you’ve been constantly entertained or are not at peace with yourself.
Some people waste their time or blame others for their lack of interest or activity. They have no curiosity about life and acquire no self-discipline.
You can sacrifice boredom by paying attention and being interested in your present activity. You can make different choices and decide to embrace your life as an adventurer, a warrior.
The quality of your experience is your responsibility
Make Feelings Fashionable
Feelings are not emphasised in our culture. In some educational institutions the emphasis is on the intellect, measurable knowledge and a good memory. Constant exposure to information, facts and figures without reference to feelings and emotions creates imbalance. When you are not in touch with your feelings, you become disconnected from your sensory and emotional experience. You think about things rather than feel your responses.
Much of our daily lives cuts us off from feelings. When they are not valued we stop paying attention to them. Violence in movies, distressing media coverage on television and noisy disturbing environments deaden feelings.
Without intelligent feeling responses you are living a half-life, which can be grey and empty. During adolescence do your best to stay in touch with your feelings. If you have disconnected from them or have gone numb because of childhood experiences or for any other reason, it’s important to re-connect as soon as you can and feel again.
You can practise identifying your feelings by becoming aware of them. They arise from experiences or thoughts you have and are felt in your body. Some feelings are: anger, hurt, pain, despair, joy, confusion, happiness, sorrow, dejection, loneliness, awe, wonder, disillusionment, excitement, bliss. Feelings are expressed through the body and usually can be identified and named. When you learn to identify what is going on for you at a feeling level, communication with others becomes easier. When you are conscious of your feelings, you are able to communicate intimately with others. This helps to create a sense of identity that is whole. You then can express yourself differently, with depth and variety.
Feeling your feelings offers you a rich and full life. Are you willing to make feeling choices in order to stay sensitive in this world?
You can learn to trust your body’s knowing and feelings and listen to what it is saying to you.
Any aspect of our lives that are not working or are not in harmony can be healed through loving ourselves.
- In what ways do you express love for yourself?
- Write a list of ways that you do love yourself. Add ways you can give more love to yourself.
- Write down all the things you really enjoy doing. When did you last do them? Do some of the things on your list now and whenever you feel like it.
- Spend time saying, while sitting quietly, “I love myself”. Do this every day. Feel this move through your body and experience the sensations inside you – warmth, tingling, moving and a filling up.
In spite of everything that anyone has ever said to you, if you have been treated badly or you have not been loved and nurtured – you are lovable just the way you are
This article is extracted from Amrita Hobbs’ latest book GETTING REAL… about growing up! This is a resource book for young people, parents and anyone interested in youth. It explores body image, self-love, family dynamics, sexuality and teenage relationships, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and lots more.
From byronchild/Kindred, Issue 3