Activities to get acquainted with YOU
#SelfAwareness - Because we think you’re pretty great
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
Have you ever found yourself in awe (or embarrassment) over the strength or passion of your response to a situation, not fully understanding what came over you in the moment? Or have you ever just felt not quite yourself, without being able to pinpoint any real tangible reason for the feeling? I suspect these experiences are universal, because at their core, they are a sign of our complex and ever-evolving journey to understand ourselves. From the moment we enter this world, we are on a lifelong adventure to get to know ourselves and our surroundings, and even more, how the two impact each other. From our earliest moments, we are learning to understand that the pain in our stomachs means we are hungry and in need of food, the overwhelming feeling of being overstimulated may mean that it’s time to sleep, and which sights, sounds and smells bring us peace and comfort. We spend decade after decade getting to know ourselves and our connection to the world more and more deeply, if we pay attention that is. While some of us abandon our childlike curiosity early in life, resigning ourselves to be acted upon by the world, many of us maintain or recover that curiosity about ourselves and our interactions with the world that empowers us to grow, decade after decade. But as with any journey or mission for growth or change, we first have to pause and take notice of where we are starting. This month I want to give you a few quick and simple activities to find that curiosity and reconnect with yourself, because we at Tailored Brain Health think you’re worth knowing deeply.
Values Identification Exercise
An unlikely source of deep wisdom, Elvis Presley once said “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same but you leave them all over everything you do.” Our core values are often at the root of our strongest emotional reactions and our most potent commitments. When harnessed to motivate us, they can be incredibly powerful tools for growth and change, and when violated, they can spark a reaction so fiery and intense, we may not even recognize ourselves. But before we can use our core values productively, we first have to identify them. One of my favorite ways to introduce people to themselves, is to challenge them to identify their core values, or the principles and beliefs that we hold that govern what we see as right, wrong and vitally important in life. Often once we have identified them, we have an almost epiphany about so many of the little situations in our lives and why they may bother us so much or why we react so strongly to a specific event or behavior.
Now I realize that all of this can sound pretty abstract without a concrete example. So here is how it all comes together in my life- I have learned over the years that one of my deeply held core values is interconnectedness and community. To this day, I can be moved to tears by the experience of watching one person take the time to provide support and compassion to another person in a time of need. I get goosebumps at the sound of choir music or the experience of a group of people singing or chanting in unison, many voices coming together to communicate a shared message. And few things make me feel as humble or honored as the privilege of someone trusting me to support them through a hard time. While all of these things are likely connected to more than one of my core values, they most certainly all come back to my deeply held belief that the human race is at its best when it functions to build each other up, operating synergistically rather than in toxic competition with each other. I also see this value playing out in my possibly over passionate reaction to seeing my boys pick on each other in a malicious way or when I hear a leader give particularly harsh criticism to someone who is already beating themselves up for a mistake. In those situations, I can feel a draw to act in a way I may not be proud of later, lashing out at the person who is violating my deeply held belief (even if it’s not THEIR deeply held belief). In understanding my values, however, I’ve learned to be on guard for the extremity of my reaction to certain situations, and (while not with a perfect track record) attempt to take a moment to choose the reaction I will feel good about in the end. (Often easier said or planned than done but hey, we’re all works in progress right?)
OK, enough about me, how do YOU identify those deeply rooted principles that influence your behavior and make you the unique and awesome person you are? One simple way is with a values identification exercise like the on linked below:
This exercise will encourage you to indulge your gut instinct to select words from a list that spark a visceral or emotional response in you, group them together, label them, and finally order them in whatever way makes sense to you. While the list isn’t exhaustive, I’ve found that it’s a great starting point to get you thinking about the concepts that really mean something to you and to start you on your journey to understanding what is deeply rooted in your core, and influencing your daily thoughts and actions. Good Luck!
This second strategy is one you have probably heard recommended before, but I have found over the years that it can be an intimidating one to start. So, this month, I’m hoping to give you a few tips to make getting started with this self-awareness tool a little more attainable. Journaling is a habit that can take on a million different forms, from completely unstructured brain dumping, to poetry or even song writing, to bulleting words or phrases that somehow connect for you. The first and most freeing thing to remember about journaling is that you literally cannot do it incorrectly. Any activity that allows you to get thoughts, feelings and experiences down onto paper can be therapeutic and cathartic and can be called journaling. That being said, I’ve found that sometimes the most intimidating thing about attempting to journal is just not knowing where or how to start. So as a solution for this, I want to offer you what I hope is a more approachable entryway. You’ll find a few of my favorite self-exploration journaling prompts below this section, but if prompts are helpful for you, I want to offer you one additional strategy for finding others. While you can definitely do a quick internet search for journaling prompts and find some really great options, one of my favorite strategies to get you off of the internet is to get a couples get to know you question game (like this one- https://tabletopics.com/products/couples) and use those questions to get to know yourself through journaling. It has the added bonus of doing double duty if you want to use it to get to know your partner on a deep level, or to help them get to know you. And it can be used without a screen or device that risks distracting you from your thought train once you get rolling! See below for a few starter ideas while you wait for your card deck to arrive!
- What would you attempt to do if you knew you were guaranteed to succeed? What is stopping you?
- What experience(s) in your life made you feel the truest and deepest joy? Pride? Shame? Fear? What did these groups of experiences have in common?
- Who do you most look up to in your life? What is it about them that you admire so deeply?
- When do you feel your strongest? Who or what contributes to that feeling?
**As a bonus, check out or social media accounts to get weekly journaling prompts this month to help you on your journey to getting acquainted with the amazing person inside your head!
Any journey of growth or change begins with understanding and acknowledging where and who we are at the outset. We hope these strategies can lend some insight into what makes you you, and help you to find some growth this summer through getting reacquainted with yourself. As always, if you need or want help in your journey of growth, change or self-discovery, we at Tailored Brain Health would love to be a part of that trip. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-542-1800. We think you’re pretty amazing and would love to get to know you better!