As we make our way through life, we have the opportunity to choose among paths that embrace our true authentic self or paths that honor the truths or values of others.
Most of us live our lives doing a mix of the two, and we know that the more strongly we individually buy into the various cultural narratives that surround us the more that will determine how closely or loosely we allow ourselves to veer from the path that has been set before us.
Seeing how our culture has broadened some of the narratives from which we are allowed to choose our paths has been amazing progress even in the short time I have been alive. For example, increasingly we are recognizing gender as a construct, orientation as a spectrum, and that there are as many meaningful ways of being in relationships as there are consenting people participating in those relationships.
Even with those changes, we still often see people through the lens of what they show us on the outside but can struggle to fully accept and embrace someone unconditionally for who they are on the inside. This makes coming to terms with who each of us are and forming a positive sense of identity challenging.
Many individuals who identify as queer (LGBTQIA+) continue to experience stigma, prejudice, and discrimination because of their sexuality. This makes self-acceptance and self-discovery that much more difficult.
Lower self-acceptance is a risk factor for poor mental health while a positive sense of self is strengthened by validation, education, support, and acceptance within a community. Finding others who have shared experiences can be a critical component in building safety and security in our sense of self. When we take time to participate in self-discovery, we give ourselves permission to accept ourselves for who we truly are without the agenda to change.
A major part of the self-discovery process is self-acceptance. Self-acceptance allows you to live genuinely, authentically, and in connection with people who support you. Self-acceptance is where we find our home.
Participating in activities that allow you to discover your true authentic self can build your confidence by putting you back in the driver’s seat of your own life. Start by visualizing your ideal self- not what you would want to change about yourself but rather who you would be if you allowed yourself to be completely authentic and unencumbered by the rules of our culture, families, and communities.
It may take time to identify the core beliefs you have about yourself, but doing so allows you to lean into the beliefs that help you be genuine and authentic and to correct the beliefs that sabotage you.
Connect both this idealized self and your revised, affirming core beliefs you have to behaviors and actions you can take. Give yourself time and grace when participating in self-discovery as there is not a one size fits all approach or timeline.
If you find yourself ready to take steps into the journey of self-discovery, we recommend taking time and space to identify your values, passions, and community of support. Self-discovery may sound intimidating, but more simply put, it is the process of examining one’s life, figuring out what is missing or where there is pain, and taking steps towards finding fulfillment.
Kara Tolman, LCSWA is currently accepting clients who are interested in forming genuine relationships with themselves and others. She specializes in working with clients either undergoing major life transitions or in the process of discovering and determining who they are.
Kara takes a mindfulness based approach and has a lot of interest in the role of the body in processing our thoughts and feelings- just as much as the role of the mind. She continues learning about the mind/body connection and is particularly effective with clients who have a history of trauma.
Kara, in addition to all providers at Honeybee, is an ally to the queer community and provides a safe and therapeutic space for clients of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and consensual relationship styles. She primarily works with tweens to middle aged adults.
As someone who has experienced biases and stereotypes herself, she is sensitive to the importance of letting clients define for themselves their lived experience and definitions and is not interested in imposing any values, standards, or preconceived ideas onto the clients she sees.
Reach out to email@example.com today to get scheduled.