There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
May 11, 2012 by
Categories: Self

“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well, and I’ve often been told that you can only do what you know how to do well, and that’s be you…”–They Might Be Giants, Whistling in the Dark

I have worked with many people who are trying to figure out who they are. From the basic question, “Am I a product of my genes or environment?”, to the more complex, “Does my life have meaning?”, exploring this topic is challenging and can make you feel anxiety or fearful. I have read a lot on this topic from different perspectives, spoken with a lot of people, and pondered on my own who I am. At this point in my life, I believe there is only one thing I know for certain: knowing who you are is a life-long process. This goes against more traditional theorists, who believe that we should all have a firm sense of identity by the age of 25. In my experience, I think this is more the exception than the rule. Sure, we may have identified parts of us that are relatively stable, but to have an entire sense of who we are– a complex being– it seems like it should take more time than that. Allow me to share with you a few points from my own experience that I believe play into the process of self-discovery.

The first is self-acceptance. We have written several posts on this website about accepting yourself. I believe this is because it is such an important process. How can we begin to grow if we don’t accept a characteristic as part of ourselves in the first place? Last fall, I attended a workshop by Dan Siegel on mindfulness. He challenged us, a room full of therapists, to consider that when our clients come into the room, to not believe that anything about them needs to be changed. This challenge fits the way that I try to see others in general. In particular, if I am a therapist and want to encourage self-acceptance with someone I’m working with, how can I do that while believing that they need to change? Yes there is always room for growth, but it must start with planting the seed of self-acceptance. Most growth we make is based upon the roots of those things (characteristics, behaviors, or our past) we judged unworthy to be a part of us prior to accepting them.

Image by rams_on

For example, one thing that most people don’t know about me is that I have a temper. I’ve alluded to this in a previous post. It peaked one time as a teenager and I became very aware of what it was doing and where I was going. Even now, sometimes it slips out, particularly when I am very stressed. I had to accept this as a part of me, so that I could grow into being more laid back, patient, and accepting (and celebrating) that others have a different perspective and a different way of doing things than I do. This acceptance and subsequent growth has led me into many wonderful paths and has branched out into other areas of personal growth.

The acceptance doesn’t mean my temper isn’t there. The fuse is much longer due to the growth, but the temper will always be a part of me.

Self-acceptance is not easy. I believe it means accepting ourselves at all stages of our life. It involves looking back into our childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and even yesterday, and accepting who we were. Looking at ourselves as we were and are and not giving ourselves encouragement, certainly not giving criticism, but giving compassion–unconditional compassion. To just simply look at ourselves at any stage in life and understand, empathize, and love. Similar to self-exploration, this is a never-ending process. And I think it is just as difficult.

In my next post, I will write about the second point: choice.

How does self-acceptance work for you? How are you discovering yourself?

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5 Thoughts About There’s only one thing that I know how to do well

  • May 15, 2012 at 6:14 pm Reply

    Nice website, Trent! Mine is a bit more political, but it’s nice to read something comforting for a change. Keep it up!

  • Trent May 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm Reply

    Thank you Chris! We are all very passionate about living and enjoy sharing our experiences and perspectives on what we go through. Thanks for reading!

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