Self observation1

Facing myself: the good, the bad, the ugly

The fear of rejection is more common than one expects. Sometimes it is perceived as a “safer” route to hide your true self in the hopes of being accepted by the people around you and minimizing rejection. The fear of rejection can be explained by the perceptions and appraisals that each individual faces in each situation on any given day. These appraisals can be negatively fueled, where the individual interprets a neutral situation as one that can cause them harm. 

Another reason for this fear could also be the rejection of the self, which is a form of ‘self-sabotage’. In psychology, self-sabotage is defined as the conscious or unconscious destruction of ourselves, be it physically, emotionally, or mentally, which hinders our own success and well-being (Brenner, 2019). Though self-sabotage is difficult to overcome, it is not impossible. The first step to overcoming this phenomenon and fear is looking within yourself, i.e. introspection. However, to achieve this first step, one must know what it means and how it is done. 

What is introspection? 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, introspection is “an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). This definition is closely in accordance with the definition provided by psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who developed a form of introspection that is used as a research technique, namely “experimental self-observation”. According to Wundt, introspection involves carefully, and as objectively as possible, analyzing the contents of one’s own thoughts, which focuses on the immediate sensations, processes, and activities that people experience in their surroundings (Hergenhahn, 2009). Thus, in other words, introspection is the ability to observe, process, and analyze the thoughts and feelings one experiences in their daily life, which are influenced by their surroundings. 

Benefits of introspection 

In general, introspection has many benefits when it comes to analyzing your own thoughts and feelings; it allows you to, in a sense, come to terms with your feelings based on the situation that you were in. For example, being more aware of your decisions, strengths, and weaknesses, also builds character, and allows you to think rationally and neutrally about your experiences. 

Taking it one step further by using introspection as a technique to overcome the fear of rejection comes with a different set of benefits, such as: 

  • Confrontation of your fears
  • Discovering the areas that you need to improve in
  • Letting go of unnecessary and unrealistic standards and beliefs
  • Allowing yourself to learn about the real, authentic you

If you look closely at these benefits, they have a common component, namely ‘self-confrontation’. Confrontation of the self is considered an ability to examine our behaviors and attitudes with the purpose and goal of changing the things that may need improvement. By doing this, you are also allowing yourself to embrace your flaws. Although embracing your flaws can be challenging, it can also help one become the best version of themselves. 

The value of embracing your flaws 

“Flaws” — the word itself might make you cringe at the possibility of having something that is considered imperfect, or in other words having a defect within yourself. However, the concept of imperfection is one that has beauty in its existence, as these “imperfections” provide a unique code to each individual. No one person is a copy of the other, each having their own unique qualities and traits. When introspection is added to the mix, an individual can come to the realization that there is a certain freedom in accepting the things that make you different and unique, including their perceived flaws. 

Consider the following positive outcomes of accepting and embracing your flaws: 

1. You focus on who your authentic self is

The authentic self is the person who an individual is, independent of their environment and people within their immediate surroundings. This authentic self is the you who holds specific values and beliefs, the you who has a unique personality in specific situations and contexts, and the you who you see when you look in the mirror. 

2. You would have a better direction of what your purpose is

By embracing your flaws, you have a better understanding of what works for you and where your strengths lie. This could encourage you to pursue your desires and focus on what drives you — your purpose. 

3. It gives you freedom of expression

There is no greater feeling than feeling free;  without physical bonds or restraints. In the same way, by embracing your flaws, you become a complete version of yourself. In this completion, you then have the space and freedom to be who you are — and express this the way you want to. 

4. You learn to be vulnerable with yourself and others

Being vulnerable comes with the risk of possibly being physically or emotionally hurt or harmed due to exposing yourself. Taking it from the perspective of yourself, embracing your flaws requires a certain extent of exposing yourself to yourself. This exposure grants you the ability to reflect on yourself in a way that encourages you to empathize with yourself and others. 

5. You learn to be less hard on yourself

Everyone has periods or moments where they criticize themselves or judge themselves for something that they have done, be it a mistake or otherwise. However, when we are aware of our flaws, accept that they are there, and embrace them, we can get comfortable with the nuances of our behavior. By doing this, we realize that mistakes are normal and something that can help us grow and develop. 

6. You can gain power in true self-love and self-acceptance

Similar to experiencing freedom by embracing your flaws, you can also experience true love and acceptance of the self. Love is often mistaken as a feeling, however ‘to love’ yourself essentially means that you are actively and intentionally welcoming your good qualities as well as the unpleasant ones. In the same way, ‘to accept’ yourself means to actively recognize and validate the way you are. 

With these considerations in mind, the hope is that you, as a reader, realize that there is beauty in the acceptance of your good qualities, but even more so in the active and intentional acceptance of your unique aspect, occasionally referred to as ‘flaws’. 

About the Author 

Alyeska Lake, MSc

Alyeska Lake is a clinical child and adolescent psychologist who specializes in working with children and adolescents by using a client-centered approach with respect to the usage of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy perspective — thinking about solutions rather than the problems. 

Mindfulness Andreea

How to be more present

Have you ever had the feeling that life goes by very quickly and that you are not enjoying it to the fullest? Do you sometimes feel like you are a bystander, an observer of your own life? While engaged in an activity, are you thinking of what you should do next or about your responsibilities?
If you could relate to the illustrated scenarios, then this article is for you. Learn how to be more present, and more mindful, with these 3 practical exercises.


Making Promises You Can’t Keep

Have you ever experienced the excitement of agreeing to a request or an activity that someone invited you to because it seemed like a good idea at the time? Or have you agreed to so many activities planned for the same day that you forget where one ends and where the other begins? And as the days get closer to the event or activity you realize that you actually can’t make it to all of them? The smart thing to do in this case is to cancel or postpone, but instead, you end up not showing up at all, without a head’s up, and you figure that the person will forget about it and forgive you.

Somewhere along the line, without you knowing, it becomes a pattern: you’re asked to be present at an activity or complete a task, you commit to said activity or task, then fail to comply with the commitment. So, then, there’s the question of why this happens? Is it in fact difficult for human beings to comply with commitments, and keep their promises? To answer this question, we must first understand the action of ‘being committed’.

The Definition of Commitment

According to the Merriam-Webster definition, to be ‘committed’ means to be loyal or keep your word to a person or something. In psychological terms, according to the American Psychological Association definition, to be ‘committed’ means to be obligated or devoted to a person, relationship, task, cause, or other entity or activity. Thus, any time you agree to being present at someone’s activity or doing a task, that’s you making a commitment – or promise.

According to researchers, commitments are a part of human social life, as it provides clarity to the other person, in that they can predict the committed individual’s behavior. As a result, both individuals are able to create a cohesive plan and coordinate their goals to reach a mutual understanding and outcome (Maichael and Pacherie, 2014). Furthermore, commitments are an important aspect of prosocial behavior as it encourages cooperation and interpersonal
brainstorming between individuals to develop joint actions to be able to achieve common goals.

So, if commitments are that important and a part of our human nature to maintain our social statuses, why is it so hard for us to keep them?

The Psychology Behind Failing to Keep Your Word

As mentioned before, making a commitment or promise requires you to be loyal to the agreed-upon commitment. However, there are certain factors at play that determine whether these promises are kept. Firstly, one’s motivation is oftentimes the deciding factor on whether or not a task gets done. The reason for this is that people typically equate importance with how motivated they are. In other words, if I am very motivated to keep this promise, that must mean that this promise is worth keeping, and therefore, important.

Another factor is our ability to believe that we are capable of and available for much more than we actually are. This results in overcommitment, whereby we have a tougher time keeping up with all of our commitments. This in no way is saying that committing to plenty of events or activities is necessarily wrong. However, it can become dangerous when we become careless with accepting commitments and making promises we can’t keep.

And lastly, the expectations that one has for the other person, along with the expected goal, can determine our willingness to stay committed. What this means is that if person A expects X from person B, it is the belief of person A that person B will do everything in their power to be and stay committed. However, if person B does not believe in the goal set by person A, and the achievement thereof, it is more likely that they will not comply with the commitment.

Tips on Managing Your Commitments

Though keeping promises and staying committed is hard, it is not impossible. There are a few tips that you can keep in mind while contemplating making a commitment. These tips are also applicable if you see that you will fail to keep your promise.

Here are some aspects to keep in mind, while you evaluate making your next promise:

  • The extent of your motivation to the commitment
    Ask yourself what your intentions are with making this commitment, whether making this commitment will benefit you in any way, or if it is in accordance with your interests and desires.
  • The reality of the situation
    If you evaluate your schedule, the time needed for this activity or task, and the level of accessibility and availability from you towards this activity or task, is it realistic to commit to it?
  • The importance and urgency of the commitment
    In situations where the commitment is something can be said ‘no’ to, do it. Accepting an unimportant task or invite could cause more harm than good – for both parties involved. Thus, ask yourself if the commitment is worth the hassle; if the answer is no, don’t make that promise.
  • Handling not being able to keep your promise
    Situations change. Things come up. It happens to most, if not all. Thus, instead of not communicating the changes that have occurred that prevent you from complying with the commitment, be open and share that you can no longer maintain your promise.

With all that being said, the next time you are presented with a commitment, evaluate yourself and the situation; if it is worth it and important, say yes, if it is not, you already know the answer. Simple as that – some might say.

Alyeska Lake, MSc

Alyeska is a clinical child and adolescent psychologist who specializes in working
with children and adolescents by using a client-centered approach with respect to the
usage of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
perspective — thinking about solutions rather than the problems.


Stuck in a Cycle That You Can’t Break

Do you sometimes feel like you’re stuck in a cycle, continually going in circles of starting then stopping, with no sight on ‘The End’? Or do you feel like no matter how hard you try to tell yourself to get up and start, it just doesn’t quite work out? As a result, you notice a progressive depletion in your willingness to even try, which makes you question whether or not this goal is even possible to be achieved. 

Motivation is one of those concepts that everyone is familiar with but no one knows how to explain, nor manipulate to their own personal advantages. By definition, motivation is “a force or influence that causes someone to do something” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 1982). In other words, the execution of activities in one’s life is based on the level of motivation that is experienced. So, now there’s the question of where does this motivation comes from, how do I get it, and what are some ways that I can maintain it. However, to answer these questions, one must first understand why there is a lack of motivation in one’s self in the first place. 

Why am I unmotivated?

To discover the reasons behind why you might feel unmotivated, you must first consider a few things. One of these things is your routine and structure, or lack thereof. A lack of structure and routines make it difficult to form a healthy habit, as you are just “going with the flow”. Similarly, if you are unaware of your purpose you might feel stuck, without a clear direction of the path you should take to achieve your goals. If you do have structure and know your purpose but still feel unmotivated, you should consider the goal or desire itself. Without realistic and achievable goals, you might feel as though the goals are impossible to achieve, which may make you want to quit. Ask yourself, “are these goals realistic, or am I shooting for the moon without a rocketship?” While having ambition is a great tool to have, it is also important to be able to manage and control how much ambition we are aiming towards our goals. Another aspect that is important for the maintenance of one’s motivation is the environment. Without the right setting or mood, your willingness to start and continue is less likely to be present. And finally, an aspect that may make up 50% of the maintenance process, is one’s belief in oneself. A lack of belief in your own abilities and capabilities in combination with a constant state of self-doubt is your own personal condemnation of “you will never achieve your goal”. 

Where can I find motivation?

According to the Self-Determination Theory, there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. The former is related to forces from within a person which drives them, such as a desire to improve. This type of motivation is free from the pressures of a deadline, reward, or compensation — “I am going to do it because I can and will”. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is primarily driven by factors that are external to the individual, such as money or status. This type of motivation is primarily driven by the things that one can gain by performing and completing a task — “when I finish this project, I will gain prestige” (Deci & Ryan, 2000).

How can I get and keep motivation

1. Routine & Structure

Create a routine that is semi-structured, in which you have set times to work on your goals and other activities, while still allowing yourself the space and freedom to relax and reflect. 

2. “Just start”

It’s easier to stay motivated when you have already started on the activity, in this way you are building the momentum instead of finding the willpower to rev up the engine to start driving.

3. Setting the right goals

To keep your motivation, set goals that are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. In other words, your goals should be realistic (something that is not too easy nor impossible), as specific and measurable as possible — instead of “I want to sleep better”, try “I want to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night so that I wake up energized”. It is also important to understand why you want to achieve this goal — the bigger picture. And finally, create a deadline for this goal (by what date will it be achieved).

4. Focus on your purpose

“What is my purpose?” You can ask yourself about where you would like to be (short- and long-term), what are some things that you would like to achieve on this journey, and why it is important. Thereafter, you can reflect on the skills that you already possess that can help you throughout this journey, as well as the skills that you have yet to learn and possess and think about the steps that you need to take to get to where you want to be.

5. Set the mood

The immediate environment, surroundings, or workspace can make or break you and your motivation. Establish a setting or mood that is right for you — be it a well-lit open space that is peaceful and tranquil, or a small room that has a lot of people and personality to it. While also paying attention to the people in your personal space — are they draining your energy or inspiring you to the point of maximum energy?

6. Me through my own eyes

One of the most powerful forces that drives a person is their belief in themselves. If you are a person who believes in their own abilities and capabilities and sees their goals as something that can and will be achieved, then you are already halfway there. By minimizing self-doubt you allow yourself to strive for greatness within yourself.

7. Be aware of potential obstacles

There will be certain things that will happen along the way through your journey of achieving your goal that might make you feel stuck all over again. But the important thing is to recognize these obstacles or stumbling blocks. Figure out how they should be dealt with, and keep pushing forward while reminding yourself of your (long-term) goals and your purpose. 

8. Reward & praise yourself

Each step throughout your journey of achieving your goal deserves praise — from yourself — as it is proof that you are getting closer to your goal. And with that, you become more and more comfortable and aware of what is expected of yourself, thus gradually making you an expert on yourself and the means necessary to achieve your goals.

With a better understanding of why you may be feeling unmotivated, what types of motivations there are, and where they come from, as well as methods on how to maintain the motivation, you are better able to set your specific goals and watch them come forth and flourish before your very eyes.

About the Author 

Alyeska Lake, BSc, is a psychologist who specializes in working with children and adolescents by using a client-centered approach with respect to the usage of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy perspective

– Thinking about solutions rather than problems.