True Self/False Self Part 4: True Self Tools
In the past, we’ve all had to become onions. So how can we de-layer and allow more of our true self to come forward?Different fields of psychology recommend different methods for reaching our true selves. These can range from visualisations (‘you are in a forest, walking down a leafy path’ etc.), which require us to use our imaginations, to cognitive therapy workbooks, which are useful for uncovering stories from the past that influence our behaviour now.Below is a starting list of some of the ways we can begin discovering the true self. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment!TimeThis is probably one of the most important ingredients of self-work. When it comes to the mind, nothing happens overnight. It can take months, even years before changes become noticeable and the journey can be pretty difficult at times.JournallingJournalling is the oldest form of self-work around. It’s incredibly cathartic to get things out of our heads and onto paper or screen. The way people can journal now has changed: gone are the days of hiding our diaries under the mattress. With the invention of computers we now not only have access to specialist journalling software, but can protect our most personal thoughts with a password (just remember to back it all up...). Ye olde notebook still does the trick perfectly though and some people find putting pen to paper easier than sitting in front of a screen.Sentence completionSentence completion works by providing the first half of a sentence (sentence stems) and requiring completers to write several different endings. It’s useful for exploring certain topics and finding different perspectives. As completers are supposed to write down the first thing that comes into their heads, it can also be very revealing.TherapyI’ve heard people say that they think everyone would benefit from seeing a therapist. Personally, I don’t agree with this, as therapy is only beneficial if the client actually wants to be there. It’s not a quick fix and anyone expecting have all their problems solved will be disappointed. It takes time, money and a lot of hard work. It’s also an ongoing process that doesn’t end with the termination of sessions. However, with the right therapist and genuine curiosity about yourself, it’s a hugely beneficial and rewarding experience.MeditationMeditation is useful for developing an awareness of feelings and physical sensations in the moment. A lot of them are also seriously relaxing. General meditations are available, as well as some on specific topics, such as money issues, stress and sleep problems. As well as CDs and books, you can also download free meditations online. Some are more likely to induce giggles than relaxation, however the Meditation Oasis podcast is highly recommended.WorkbooksLike meditations, workbooks come in all shapes and sizes. Some cover specific topics, such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, while others focus on more abstract concepts, such as the inner child. Along with journalling and sentence completion, workbooks can be very useful completed alone or with a therapist.Mood TrackingThe idea of mood tracking comes from cognitive behavioural therapy. The idea is pretty simple: pick several points throughout the day (e.g. 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm etc.) and write down your mood when these times come around. There are some pretty fancy apps for PC and iPhones available, but a good old notebook will also suffice. The purpose of mood tracking is to increase your awareness of moods, make it easier to notice patterns and enable people to connect certain moods to certain events.Read UpSelf-help books get a pretty bad rap - probably because most of them are cheesier than a croque monsieur. Unfortunately, concepts like ‘Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars’ sell like hot cakes and therefore garner the most attention, leaving many people with a rather skewed view of the self-help world. However, there are some real gems out there. Check out the book reviews and recommended reading section of the site for more suggestions.WorkshopsIf you live in an urban area, the chances are that there will be some sort of workshop covering various psychology topics. Whether it’s a session on listening skills, non-violent communication or finding your inner child, sites like www.meetup.com have plenty to offer.Talk to people you trustSharing our feelings with those close to us is scary and uncomfortable at first but, if we choose the right people, it’s a highly rewarding experience. Simply talking to and receiving feedback from trusted friends and family members shouldn’t be underrated as a great way to explore our true thoughts and feelings more.