Your Mind’s Eye
Have you ever heard the term seeing with your “mind’s eye?” The phrase embodies the ability to perceive, or cerebrally capture the events of our lives. In therapy, you might be asked to explore these perceptions. One’s understanding of self and the world is a gateway to deeper insight and in turn, deeper growth, or change. Change is always preceded by insight.
Some individuals are naturally more introspective; somehow just drawn to the deeper questions of self-realization. Instead of it feeling dull or threatening to question why they do the things they do, it’s interesting. Usually, these folks are few and far between. It’s the much larger majority that says: “That’s so heavy! Why spend time doing that?” Objectively observing your thoughts, actions and feelings just as you would observe a stranger’s conversation or the characters on a movie screen can feel uncomfortable. While I’m not advocating self-centeredness and absorption, knowing yourself well proves to be a valuable asset. In the same way it’s hard to genuinely appreciate and understand an item you have not studied, it’s hard to feel comfortable in your own skin if you have no insight into your deeper self.
Introspective people, or people who spend time ‘looking within’ usually make silence a regular part of their week. To connect with yourself, it’s important to still chatter. Whether it’s mind chatter, phone chatter or family chatter- escape it to some degree and connect with your thoughts and feelings. Time away or in silence is a good time to check in with yourself: How are you feeling? Is something frustrating you? Do you notice that certain muscles in your body are tight? What might you be holding onto? If we are unable to quiet our worlds these important questions are neglected. Self-aware people also typically have a relatively strong emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence or an ability to intuit the emotions and emotional needs of self and other, is an intelligence that can be developed, just like any other type of strength. A good way to start is by expanding your emotional vocabulary- most people resort to feeling “mad,” “sad” or “happy.” But when is the last time you felt “timid” or “apathetic?” Acknowledge that our emotional capacity as humans is quite large, and instead of approaching your feelings with a skeptical or judgmental attitude- be curious! Lastly, find an outlet to express yourself. People in-tune with themselves, value self-expression. Whether it’s a proclivity for craftiness, music, dance, theater or cuisine—embrace it and own your personal and expressive corner.
An introspective life can help stop unhealthy coping mechanisms and other destructive patterns. It can help develop inner confidence and self-ease. Perhaps most importantly, knowing yourself well can help keep problematic behaviors and communication style in check so to avoid serious damage to the relationships most important to you. Tell your therapist you’d like to become more aware of yourself and add some of these skills to your treatment plan. You’ll likely find your counseling sessions enriched.