At this time of year……by Dr Dee Gray

When was the last time you gave something to your ‘self’? When was the last time you gave to others?  You may find that that you do one more than the other, although both hold opportunities for ‘reward’ depending on what each means to you.

Understanding and being aware of your ‘self’ is gained through experience of the world, and incorporates knowledge about your self-esteem, self-image and self-efficacy. Self-esteem relates to how much you believe you are worth in the world, how much you like your ‘self’. Self-image is how you perceive your ‘self’ in the world, your self-image may fluctuate, especially when you are experiencing the highs and lows that life offers up.

Your ‘self’ is multidimensional, it holds the essence of you which is flavoured by your experiences in the world and your beliefs about the world, some of these ‘flavours’ include social, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and physical aspects of learning of who your ‘self’ is. The world around you and how your interact with it shapes your learning of it, so it is malleable and can be changed, an appreciation of how varied your ‘self’ can be is found in the different roles you may have, for example employer, student, spouse, parent, volunteer…

It would be remiss of me to write about the ‘self’ and not talk about Abraham Maslow and Martin Seligman. Both of whom have demonstrated that the interaction of your personality (driven by a desire for self-actualisation) and the actions to achieve self-actualisation contribute to your overall subjective wellbeing. How do they do this? By providing the fuel and focus for hedonistic and altruistic actions, and the seeds to nurture your inner genius.

In terms of your wellbeing, giving to your ‘self’ demonstrates that you remember and action your responsibility to look after this aspect of your being. It requires taking time to know your ‘self’ and provide opportunities for nourishment that lead to self-actualisation. It is an act of honouring who you are and living with your purpose. Giving to others can also mean you are giving to your ‘self’,  as these acts of kindness often trigger positive feelings that contribute to your self-image, so that your thoughts and actions demonstrate you are a good person, and are deserving of positive regard. As with all things having a sense of balance is crucial, pure hedonism or asceticism, both lead to the sacrifice of the ‘self’ by polluting the water in which you swim.

For me all of this leads to being your ‘best self’, a space that encapsulates self-actualisation through a process of kindness and compassion for who you are and who you are yet to be.

At this time of year, while you are remembering to do so much, remember your ‘self’ too.