Whenever I’m working with individuals or groups to help them develop their own authentic personal style, we always start with the True Self Style Words exercise. This is because, unless we have a clear idea of who we are on the inside, we can never develop a genuine and original style on the outside.
If you don’t have this inner self-awareness there’s naturally the tendency to copy other people, specifically or in general. This results in copy-cat attitudes, behaviours and approaches to life – as well as efforts to follow fashion without discrimination.
Without knowing who you are and the purpose of your life, your identity will be shaped by the prevailing beliefs and trends that surround you. This may not be in your favour, especially if the values of your culture or society are essentially materialistic.
The concept of your True Self Style Words is a way to better understand who you are as a soul and as a human being
It’s always helpful to be reminded that you’re as unique as your fingerprints and that the purpose of your life is equally unique and individual. In a world where we’re pushed more and more to conform in how we think, speak, work, relax, eat, exercise and dress, this exercise automatically encourages a sense of independent self-awareness.
When you do the True Self Style Words exercise you reflect on what makes you you. You have the opportunity to consider what you know about yourself that you’d like to express in your life and in your clothes.
For example, would you like to show that you’re Professional, Reliable, Interesting, Creative or Dynamic? It can be liberating to express the Eclectic, Approachable, Confident, Independent, Assertive, Modest or Strong aspects of yourself in how you look – and then in how you behave.
Your personal ‘fingerprint’ of True Self Style Words acts as a road map for how you combine and wear your clothes, for sorting out your wardrobe and for what you choose to buy in the future.
Sometimes this exercise is easy and sometimes it can be difficult
During this particular workshop, while most people were having fun choosing the True Self Style Words that best encapsulated them, a lovely woman in her fifties was struggling. She looked at all these glorious attributes of the soul but could see nothing that she recognised or related to.
She said that she’d been told her as a child not ‘to praise’ herself but to wait for others to notice her good qualities. This early conditioning had inhibited her self-awareness and left her with no clear idea of her individual gifts, talents and attributes.
One can certainly understand a well-intentioned parent who wanted to discourage vanity, narcissism or self-obsession, but one can also see how this caution could lead her to rely on others to define her, instead of developing her own authentic sense of inner self-worth.
It’s useful to know your own qualities, strengths and weaknesses
Your innate strengths are what you’re naturally good at and can be very helpful indicators of where to focus in career choices, satisfying relationships or fulfilling paths of work and service. On the other hand, being aware of your weaker areas allows you to address them, strengthen and transform them.
‘But I don’t want to praise myself!’
Sometimes people find it arrogant to choose attributes such as Generous, Courageous, Radiant, Eloquent, Kind or Noble. They feel embarrassed to describe themselves as Interesting, Artistic, Humorous, Dignified, Elegant, Glowing, Unfettered or Vibrant.
They feel a little of what the precious, self-effacing soul in this example was feeling.
Another way to look at this
In the process of trying to know and to understand yourself, it’s necessary to separate out arrogance and self-pride from a humble attempt to appreciate the legitimate attributes with which you’ve been created.
I find it helpful to remind myself that any positive qualities that I have are not me, as such, but rather timeless, universal attributes that are on loan to me from the Creator to be used proactively over the course of my life. My creativity, for example, is something that I value and try to use consciously to reflect what’s good and lovely in this world.
Whenever we use our natural attributes, gifts and talents mindfully and productively, we remind one another to do this in our own ways.
Self-respect and self-awareness
It isn’t arrogant, narcissistic or ‘praising yourself’ to acknowledge the qualities that make you unique, fascinating and well-rounded. It’s a way of honouring the Creator who made you by using who you are and what you have to make your individual contribution.