In this newsletter, we will venture to the very practical – as people often ask me, “What could I do to identify what I need to work on or to further my growth?”
While you ponder doing any of these ideas or other self-work, notice any resistance ego has to doing the suggestion, as well as taking note of what specific trait or question you are resisting. The avoidance is often where the awareness lies.
With the use of lists to guide you, thinking about and writing down (getting the ideas OUT of your mind) ideas is a great self-directed tool. Here are some ideas for identifying what can be looked at on your journey.
The 12-step programs (e.g., AA, NA, Alanon) use a personal inventory list that is used in a number of ways. One way is to do a daily reflection of how certain traits showed up for you that day. I like this format as it gives the pairs of dual traits which we all have (e.g., honesty and dishonesty, gluttony and moderation) and asks us to take ownership of all our humanness (face our shadow material) in order to increase balance in our psyches. [I’ve posted an inventory list here https://corecounselling.ca/daily-inventory/].
There is also the need to make a list of situations and/or people that still have negative or unresolved energy. This is toxic baggage! You can start by writing down what situations or people still bother you. More specifically, what are you ANGRY about? What or whom do you RESENT? What do you feel GUILTY about? Are there any PROCRASTINATIONS hanging around? Do you look at something (e.g., clothing, photo, chipped paint) and it bugs or upsets you? Make the lists, take action if need be and clear up (process, take ownership of your part) these feelings and associated underlying thoughts.
Ego may rationalize or minimize (“No big deal.”) these feelings and situations away, yet they all weigh negatively on you, even to a small degree, and the accumulative effect is big. Energy stuck in the past prevents moving forward. Often when we process this material, we experience an increase in libido, feel lighter and find that life flows a bit easier.
As I have mentioned before, we can always check in with our bodies to see what unfinished business may be present. Make a list of people (mom, dad, siblings, neighbours, friends, supervisors) and situations/times (schooling, employment, relationships, divorce) in your life and ask yourself, “As I think of this person/situation, what do I get (feelings, thoughts, body sensations) now?” Is it a thumbs up or down? Where do you feel any twinge? Name that twinge (anger, guilt, sadness) and process further.
You could also do a grief and loss history. Make a list of all the losses (deaths, moves, health limitations, relationships) throughout your life. Do a body check as you touch base with each one. Anything there besides the bittersweetness of grief? Note these and further process.
On a more existential level, it may be time to solidify values, beliefs, and principles that govern your perspective on who you are, what you stand for and how you view life, death. This can also mean clarifying your religious and spiritual foundation and connection. Make a list of these and write down your responses. We could even throw in “Who I am …” and “My wants and desires/hopes” lists for review, and for action.
With any self-reflection work, remember to bring self-compassion, perhaps even forgiveness, for past actions. We are here for learning and growth.