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The Joy of Getting to

Know Yourself


A few weeks ago we had friends over that I hadn’t seen in quite a few years. I had to laugh at myself trying to figure out where to go for dinner, because while I had known them a long time, we weren’t so close that I knew their current food preferences.

You’ve been there, I know you have. When you are thinking about all the options and trying to remember everything you know about a guest.

Of course, we figured it out and had a lovely time together (Hi, Cindy!)…and if you ever come to visit me I will take you to Poppo’s as well, it’s fresh and delicious and everyone I have taken there loves it!

But that exercise in trying to guess what I didn’t know reminded me of something I had read in Rachel Wilkerson Miller’s book, The Art of Showing Up.

You can’t take care of a guest properly if you don’t know what they like. In the same way, it’s also hard to take care of ourselves if we haven’t taken the time to get to know what we need.

So when was the last time you spent some time with…you?

In her lovely book The Next Right Thing, Emily P. Freeman says: Too often the relational interaction we engage in the most is also the one that is most often ignored. It’s the relationship we have with ourselves.

So how well do you know…yourself?! There was a time in my life when I had become so disconnected from myself I had no idea what I liked or didn’t like or what my needs even were. That’s not a fun way to live.

Reacquainting you with you can be fun…it can also be uncomfortable at times. When we admit to ourselves our actual likes and dislikes, our preferences and our needs, we are also putting away a more idealized version of ourselves.

Years ago I dated a guy with a twin brother. The twin brother also had a girlfriend, and we were all going somewhere together, in the rain. I remember clear as day the girlfriend saying, ‘I love the rain…it’s so much fun to be out in it. I don’t even mind getting wet’. WTH?

Y’all, I am a cat. I am uninterested in being out in the rain. EVER. Even to go from my car to the grocery store. In the years since this interaction, I have come to accept this about myself and I can even laugh at my own quirks. But at the time, all I can remember feeling is: I wish I could be more like her.

I was embarrassed that I didn’t like being out in the rain and so I forced myself to pretend otherwise.

Well, today I can say without qualm that  I love the rain ONLY from my couch or my bed as it sings me to sleep. And that is perfectly fine and wonderful and is one of the many (crazy) things that makes me, me!

But before I could get to that place of acceptance, I had to be willing to get real with my own likes, dislikes, preferences and needs.

Knowing yourself and your own preferences gives you the information you need to make clearer decisions: to let your yes and your no be authentic. There is a lot of freedom in that, my lovely friends. Self-acceptance begins with self-knowledge. And since you can’t like someone you don’t know, let’s get reacquainted with you! Here is a list of ways to begin getting to know yourself again.

1. List your preferences.

I found this exercise from The Art of Showing Up both fun and frustrating. Some areas were super easy and others, well, I had absolutely no idea what my preferences were. LOL

Here is a list of a few categories from Miller’s book (plus a few of my own suggestions). For each category, write down a few things you like and a few things you don’t. I love that she suggests writing down your dislikes as well as your likes, because, just like being out in the rain for me, it can be a huge relief to admit when we do NOT like something!

  • Colors
  • Weather
  • Animals
  • Clothing
  • Smells
  • Music/Movies/TV shows
  • Drinks
  • Foods
  • Restaurants
  • Indoor Activities
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Sports/
  • Places to shop
  • Ways to spend time with friends
  • How to spend vacation time
  • Locales (ie, the beach, big cities)
  • Holidays
  • Gifts
  • Beauty products/rituals
  • Spiritual practices/rituals

2. Go on an Artist Date.

In her famous book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends a ritual she calls the Artist Date.

Now you might be saying, but Sheri, I’m not an artist….

I love Brené Brown’s response to this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. She writes: ‘I’m not very creative’ doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t.

So what IS an Artist Date?   As explained on Julia Cameron Live:

The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.
 Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.

This could be a trip to a museum. Or a bookstore. Or a garden. A fabric or art supply store. Anywhere that sparks the imagination.

3. Take a personality test.

I’m a big fan of all the information a personality test can give you about yourself. There are a ton of different ones out there, I think I have taken them all. LOL But the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs are two of my favorites. There are also quite a few free ones out there, some just for fun! (My spirit animal is an owl and my Patronus is a White Mare, in case you were wondering.)

4. Make a Bucket List.

I have been making Bucket Lists since I was in my 20s. Over the years they have changed; I have crossed off some items and I have replaced others. Those early lists included things I thought sounded cool; as I have gotten older my lists have evolved to reflect more who I am and what I actually want for myself.

If you have never made one, a Bucket List can help you get in touch with what you are really interested in and goals you may not have acknowledged for yourself. And over time your List may change, too, so re-visiting a List you have already made is also a great exercise! If you are drawing a blank, this website can jumpstart some ideas for you.

5. Make a playlist. Just for you.

One of my favorite things to do is drive with all my windows down and the radio up so I can sing along. Often to the same song over and over. #sorrynotsorry

One of the places we default to trying to look cool can be in our choice of music. Make a playlist of songs you love, guilty pleasures and all. Give yourself permission to like what you like without apology.

Life is too short to pretend you don’t like catchy Taylor Swift songs. (Wink.)

6. Create a Pinterest board. Or ten.

If you are trying to discover what it is you like, there is no greater place to explore than Pinterest. Choose any category that strikes your fancy and create a board (or ten) for yourself.

Then search for pins on your chosen subject. I have created boards for outfits, home décor, holiday inspiration, and pillows I liked!  You could even create a board just for a specific favorite color, like yellow or purple.

Even if you already have a ton of Pinterest boards, starting fresh with a new one can give you some more current insight on your likes today, as opposed to the version of you that started that board 856 pins ago. (Wink.)

7. Make a list of your self-care essentials.

In her book, Be Kind to Yourself, Cindy Bunch suggests that we make a list of the things that comfort and strengthen us. Times of intense stress are when we need to have familiar tools at hand to sustain us, she writes.

What soothes and restores us is incredibly personal.  My own list of self-care essentials includes things from clean sheets and sunshine to a great therapist. Taking the time to identify yours ahead of time can literally be a lifesaver.

8. Make a list of your favorite childhood pastimes.

Children explore. They play and dance and make mistakes and don’t worry about what other people are thinking. (Remember that?!) And they do it…just because it’s fun.

Kids don’t subscribe to our culture of productivity, where we are way too busy doing “important things” to waste our valuable time with play. In  The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown writes: We have to become intentional about cultivating play, and about letting go of productivity as self-worth.

 Re-visit what rituals and pastimes you enjoyed as a child. There is a good chance you would enjoy one or all of them now that you are grown up. Take each one for a test drive and find out. You may rediscover an activity that brings you a lot of joy.

9. Sign up for a class.

The only way you can know if you are going to like something is to try it.

Not everything may appeal to you, and that’s okay. But if you feel an inkling of interest in yoga or pottery or hip-hop dance, then go find a class and find out if it is your new favorite thing! Now more than ever the availability of online classes means there is something for every interest and schedule.

As adults, we may find ourselves hesitating to try something new based on our fear of looking dumb or feeling foolish,  writes Emily Freeman. But exploring things that we are curious about is a way to stay in touch with ourselves. Take a deep breath and let go of your fear of being a beginner.

10. Journal about your perfect vacation.

Most of us plan our vacations around the people we love. Either to visit our people, or to entertain our people, or as a compromise to keep our people from driving us crazy.

But what if you could plan a vacation exactly as you wanted? Just you. Without thinking about anyone else.

Now I’m not suggesting that you could make this fantasy a reality on a regular basis; I do live here in the real world. But this exercise may identify for you some things that you really do love and loathe about how you spend your time off. Which in turn could help inform your future choices when you are making plans for your next vaca. So grab a pen and dream about what your very own dream vacation would look like.

Growing in self-awareness is a dynamic and ongoing process, writes Jacie Scott in her article for Darling Magazine. We don’t get to know ourselves once and be done with it.

We have to accept that we are ever-evolving creatures and taking the time to get to know who we are today has value. We need to keep our relationship with ourselves fresh, just like we would our relationship with a friend or partner.

Freeman explains: Knowing what you want builds your confidence…. It means you’ve taken time to give your inner voice a place at the table. You are allowed to take up space in the room.

I love that. You are allowed to take up space in the room.

This isn’t to imply the needs and wants of the people we love aren’t important, of course they are! But our likes, dislikes and preferences are important as well.

And here’s the kicker, according to The Art of Showing Up: The more you name and honor your own needs, the easier it becomes to do the same for others. So in the interest of taking care of you AND your people, take the time to reacquaint yourself with the person you will have the closest relationship of your life with: YOU.


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