One thing that I really like to drive home to my coaching clients is the importance of knowing ourselves.
I mean, really, really knowing ourselves — and particularly, the things we have a tendency to do that create chaos and disconnection for us.
Because very often, we know what doesn’t work for us, but we do it anyway.
Particularly if you are highly sensitive or an introvert, or both, the “general way” our society does things may not work for you. But it’s easy to toss away our particular, unique self-understanding when we convince ourselves that “everybody else” seems to be living, well, differently.
When we’ve been through the hell of learning something that brings us to our knees and connects us with our core (or, to put it another way, our essential self), we need to actually own that and act from what we know.
I call this acting from exquisite self-knowledge.
It is powerful to put this stuff into action. And you can often tell when you’re not putting it into action, by the way you feel.
This is true on both smaller points and large ones.
Like today, I was writing in my journal and I was completely caught up in the flow. As I’ve written about before, when my journal is truly calling to me, I have got to heed that call. Journaling has been, for many years now, the way I process and ultimately integrate what’s happening for me. It is my practice. If I don’t do it — especially when it’s really calling to me — I keep spinning my wheels and I don’t move forward.
But: I get really antsy and am easily distracted when I can feel something big about to come through in my journal. And I have a tendency to sabotage these “hardcore” journaling sessions by reacting to stuff in the external environment.
Today I actually grabbed my iPad in the middle of my journaling session — even though it was going brilliantly — and searched for youtube videos on Jaws 2. (Okay, not even a good movie, but I’ve been feeling oddly nostalgic for it lately.)
Before I knew it, I was watching shark attack videos which were obviously fake (and why in the heck would I do that to my HSP self?), and then somehow I was watching videos of cats stuffing themselves into small boxes (how do I always end up there?).
So I moved away from the iPad and picked the journaling session back up. A couple minutes later, the phone rang. I am like one of Pavlov’s dogs when the phone rings. I don’t know why I think I have to get up and see who it is. But get up I did.
It was a friend of mine who I really wanted to talk to. Normally, when the caller ID comes up as a close friend or a family member, it’s almost impossible for me not to pick up. I pick up as a kind of reflex. I figure I’ll make up the journaling time later; I tell myself the call will only take a couple minutes and then I’ll get back to my writing.
But experience has shown, this isn’t what happens. I get sucked into the call and when I get off the phone it’s hard to get my flow back. I put the journaling off. I toss away my practice. And I feel disconnected from myself.
So today, I didn’t pick up the phone. Why? Because I finally know myself well enough to know that if I pick up the phone during sacred journaling time, I will regret it.
And I have to tell you, acting on that exquisite self-knowledge felt really powerful. It felt congruent.
This might sound like a small point, not picking up the phone during a journaling session, but all these seemingly “small” points add up over the long haul. When I toss the needs of my essential self away on a regular basis and tell myself these “little things” don’t matter, I end up disconnected from myself, over time, in a big way.
There are larger points, too — like going back, out of fear or familiarity, to that job or that relationship we just know in our gut isn’t good for us. Or saying “yes” to something that we know from experience we simply have no desire to do.
None of this is about “doing it right” all the time or never making choices that don’t feel good to us. Part of the process of knowing ourselves is learning through trial and error what doesn’t work for us.
And sometimes, like with my Pavlovian response to the ringing phone, we have a very long learning curve. But when we do finally learn, it’s important to own what we know and take action on that knowing.
Try this: Make a habit of keeping a written record of things you’ve learned — the hard way — about yourself but have a tendency to forget. (I call this my Exquisite Self-Knowledge List.) Then check in with it from time to time, particularly if you’re feeling crappy and you’re not sure why.
What do you absolutely know about yourself that you might put on your own list? I’d love to hear from you.
And: Speaking of putting pen to paper, Thursday, Feb. 21, is the last day to register for the next session of Jenna Avery’s Just Do the Writing Accountability Circle. I’ve been a member of this group for going on a year and a half, and I’m also one of the coaches. You can read about the strides I’ve made with my writing in this group here. We’d love to have you join us! You can check it out here.
Image is “Doves” © Cook | Dreamstime.com