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“I love who I am, and I encourage other people to love and embrace who they are. But it definitely wasn’t easy – it took me a while.” ~~Serena Williams
“My feeling is that labels are for canned food……I am what I am and I know what I am.” ~~Michael Stipe
“I’ve realized that I am who I am and that is it. Like it or lump it. I’m not around to please anyone anymore, and it’s a huge relief.” ~~Kristin Scott Thomas
#5 I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
Sobriety and recovery help me to learn who I am. Before my New Life, I could describe things about myself but I lacked the understanding and knowledge of who I am at my core. Alcohol removed the ability to comprehend myself, however, Statement #5 in action continues to educate me about me. It is a continual process of discovery and it begins with thoughts.
Yet why is it important to know oneself? According to Meg Selig, author of the article in Psychology Today, “Know Yourself? 6 Specific Ways to Know Who You are,” there are a number of reasons why you might what to know yourself and how to know yourself:
· Happiness: You will be happier when you can express who you are. Expressing your desires will make it more likely that you get what you want.
· Less inner conflict: When your outside actions are in accordance with you inside feelings and values, you will experience less inner conflict.
· Better decision-making: When you know yourself, you are able to make better choices about everything from small decisions like which sweater you’ll buy to big decisions like which partner you’ll spend your life with. You’ll have guidelines you can apply to solve life’s varied problems.
· Resistance to social pressure: When you are grounded in your values and preferences, you are less likely to say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no.’
· Tolerance and understanding of others: Your awareness of your own foibles and struggles can help you empathize with others.
· Vitality and pleasure: Being who you truly are helps you feel more alive and makes your experience of life richer, larger, and more exciting.
Now that you are convinced that self-knowledge is worth having, we’ll move on to those ‘VITAL Signs’ of self-knowledge.
The Building Blocks of Self: Your VITALS
The capital letters in VITAL signs form an acronym for the six building blocks of the self, or VITALS for short. The letters stand for Values, Interests, Temperament, Around-the-clock, Life Mission and goals, and Strengths/Skills.
V=Values: such as helping others, being creative, health, financial security and so on are guides to decision making and motivators for goals. Research shows that just thinking or writing about your values can make it more likely that you take healthy actions.
I=Interests: Interests include your passions, hobbies, and anything that draws your attention over a sustained period of time. To figure out your interests, ask yourself these questions: What do you pay attention to? What are you curious about? What concerns you? The focused mental state of being interested in something makes life vivid and may give you clues to your deepest passions.
T=Temperament describes your inborn preferences. Do you restore your energy from being alone (introvert) or from being with people (extrovert)? Are you a planner or go with the flow type person? Do you make decisions more on the basis of feelings and thoughts or of facts? Do you prefer details or big ideas? Knowing the answers to temperament questions like these could help you gravitate toward situations in which you could flourish and avoid situations in which you could wilt.
A=Around the clock Activities: The ‘around the clock’ category refers to when you like to do things—your biorhythms. Are you a morning person or a night person for example? At what time of day does your energy peak? If you schedule activities when you are at your best, you are respecting you innate biology. As I look back on my life, I realize I’ve been a morning person since birth. Those fun sleepovers with girlfriends? I loved being included, but I didn’t like staying up late.
L=Life Mission and Meaningful goals: ‘What have been the most meaningful events of your life?’ You may discover clues to your hidden identity, to your career, and to life satisfaction.
S=Strengths: Strengths can include not only abilities, skills, and talents, but also character strengths such as loyalty, respect for others, love of learning, emotional intelligence, fairness and more. Knowing your strengths is one of the foundations of self-confidence; not being able to acknowledge your own superpowers could put you on the path to low self-esteem. Become a person who “takes in the good,” listening for compliments and noticing skills that could be clues to your strengths. Likewise, knowing your weaknesses can help you be honest with yourself and others about what you might not be good at. You might decide either to work on those weaknesses or try to make them a smaller part of your personal or professional life.
Even if you know your VITAL Signs, it’s hard to remain true to yourself because you are constantly changing and because society’s values often conflict with your own. I love this quote from author Gretchen Rubin:
“My first commandment is to “Be Gretchen”—yet it’s very hard to know myself. I get so distracted by the way I wish I were, or the way I assume I am, that I lose sight of what’s actually true.”’
These are practical and extremely beneficial ways to begin to know ourselves and what we think. Jean reflected how Statement #5 is the “crux” of the WFS New Life Program and that many of the other Statements are built on the strength of this one. This week pay attention to your VITALS and discover more of who you are in your New Life. For starters, each of us are capable, competent, caring, and compassionate!
Hi 4C Women,
I appreciate and love the invaluable tips Karen provided all of us to discover and understand through our VITALS on how we become 4C women. When I was about 6 years old, my parents decided to give me dance lessons to bring me out of my shyness. I’m not sure how that correlates but they thought it was the answer. I never thought of myself as shy or an introvert but more of an observer which as an adult, helped me develop feelings of empathy and compassion for myself and others. I would describe myself as an observant extrovert. I do know that my enthusiasm and energy rise when I am with people. This is one of the reasons I love the f2f meetings so much and miss being with the group members. I am grateful for Zoom because without it, I would be missing everyone even more!
I encourage you to get out a piece of paper or journal and answer each of the VITAL questions.
Life Mission and Meaningful Goals:
What have you discovered about yourself? Were there any surprises? How will your understanding of who you are today change your decision-making, choices, how you spend your time and what nourishes your spirit? Always remember to be true to yourself.
Bonded in learning our VITALS as 4C Women, Dee