Written By Sarah Hodges
Do You Know Yourself?
You are your most important companion, and knowing yourself is essential to success. But, how well do you really know yourself? I’m not talking about your habits, tendencies, and preferences. I mean, how well do you know yourself the way you know your closest companions? –The way you can feel your best friend’s anxiety the moment he picks up the phone, or sense that your brother has something mischievous planned by the indescribable expression in his eyes?
How well do you know the subtle way in which you communicate to others? How well do you know your stress signals? As human beings, we naturally tune-in to the people around us for deep communication and connection. But, how tuned-in are you to yourself?
Even within relationships, the fast-paced nature of our cell phone addicted world can easily become isolated and lonely. Moreover, if we’re unable to recognize and soothe our stress cues, we quickly withdraw from our peers.
As a young, single entrepreneur living in Manhattan, I began to wallow in these feelings of isolation. I was stressed out from my job, found it more difficult than ever to stay motivated, and I spent more time escaping from life than engaging with it. I had tons of friends and dates, but that didn’t mean I was happy.
Finally, I found a solution that truly changed my life both personally and professionally: I dated myself.
I took myself out on dates both big and small. I went to concerts, Broadway shows, and visited museums. I began to feel more comfortable with myself as my sole companion, and my loneliness dissipated.
Just spending time by myself wasn’t enough, however. It had to go deeper than “busying” myself, which can still be done in front of a computer screen. I took these dates as an opportunity to connect and tune-in with my innate needs. I became my own companion, instead of just escaping into whatever activity seemed fun at the time.
When I went trapezing, I didn’t just enjoy the activity of trapezing. I intentionally discovered how it felt to trust another person to catch me as I went flying through the air. When I went skydiving, I didn’t just jump out of a plane. I evaluated my response to stress and compared it to everyday life events that caused me anxiety even when I had two feet on the ground. When I took myself row boating in Central Park, I tuned-in to my innate sense of independence and pride that I was the only single woman rowing on the lake.
The most surprising effect of dating myself was the change it incurred in my work life. By tuning into myself on my dates, I was better able to recognize how I was coming across to others. I was aware of my subtle signals and could respond to feelings of anxiety and pressure instantly.
In the workplace, I became resilient to stressors, courageous in the face of unknowns, and comfortable with calculated risk-taking. I was better at tuning into my clients, tuning into the needs of others, and this made me a clearer communicator.
These changes gave me a major edge.
Date yourself. Give it a try. And when you do, don’t just get lost in the activity. Get to know yourself and your subtleties the way you would with a love interest on a real date. Pay attention to the little things. Tune into your subtle responses, and really get to know yourself on a deeper level.
I’m confident that the personal and professional benefits will be well worth the effort.
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