A Worthwhile New Year’s Resolution: Know Your Whole Self
Here is the bad news for the New Year: don’t waste your time with most resolutions. You won’t follow through with the vast majority of them and trying will only leave you feeling frustrated.
Here is the good news: you might resolve to know your whole self – to know the whole truth including the part you do not want to know. Although God knows this part of you well, you may not know it at all. You probably despised and rejected it years ago, pushing it to the shadowy margin of yourself. So why get to know this part? Because if you don’t take charge of yourself and intentionally get to know what really makes you tick in your deeper self – especially your hidden-agendas, hurts, dreams and needs – this part of you has a way of taking charge of you. It will rear up and bite you, in the form of painful or destructive symptoms: physical problems, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, affairs, etc. Know thy whole self, so you can serve God and others with your best gifts instead of inflicting yourself on others in the name of service!
While pastoral counseling can help you with this sort of challenge, there are many other ways to begin to get to know your unknown self:
Readers might check out Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature, by Connie Zweig (1991) or Don Richard Riso’s introductory Enneagram book called Personality Types.
Dream exploration is another way to intentionally reach out to your deeper self, but it takes discipline and you’ll probably need help mining the practical messages out of your dreams that often seem dramatic and bizarre. Check out Morton Kelsey’s 1983 classic: Dreams: A Way to Listen to God.
For those stuck in the car on long drives, try listening to the Broadway Musical soundtrack of "The Secret Garden" based on the classic children’s story. Meditate as the characters sing their stories and the drama unfolds in your imagination. Pay attention to which characters and parts of the drama particularly move you and try to figure out what the character represents in you and why.
If you have any questions about this post or would like to dive deeper into the process of knowing your whole self, please feel free to contact me: Mark Larson - firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-375-5354; ext 406 (confidential voicemail).
“Jesus said, ‘Be whole, as your heavenly Father is whole.’” Matthew 5.48
Happy New Year!
Mark Larson, D. Min., L.P.C.S.
Pastoral Counseling with Methodist Counseling and Consultation Services