“The estranged self, hidden within its inexhaustible potential lies undiscovered by many people who die without evening knowing that it exists.” – Kazuo Chiba
Thoughtful. Generous. Loving. Intelligent. Funny. Insightful.
If you asked me to describe some of my best traits, these are the adjectives I’d use.
Disconnected. Aloof. Uncertain. Unreachable. Avoidant.
If you asked me to describe some of my worst traits, these are the adjectives I’d use.
But, do these words accurately describe my greatest strengths and weaknesses? Or are there other parts of myself that I’m not recognizing and/or unconsciously denying because I’m afraid to face them (aka admit they’re real, and they’re a part of me)?
The truth is, I wasn’t sure. And because I couldn’t confidently answer my own question, I asked my sister, partner and best friend to tell me the three things they like the most about me, and the three things they like the least about me.
Here’s what they said:
My sister on the 3 things she likes the most about me:
- Your determination
- Your generosity
- Your follow through (you usually do what you say)
My sister on the 3 things she likes the least about me:
- Unpredictability (never know when you’ll be around, inconsistent communication sometimes)
- You don’t show emotion
- Sometimes you fish for validation
My partner on the 3 things he likes the most about me:
- You push people and see their potential
- You believe in what you do
- You never give up
My partner on the 3 things he likes the least about me:
- You don’t always do what you advise other people to do
- You don’t take risks when you should
- You’re not a morning person
My best friend on the 3 things she likes the most about me:
- You’re intelligent and articulate so every conversation is always interesting
- You’re super driven and it inspires everyone you encounter to be more motivated
- You emit positive energy and are always down for everything and that makes everything super fun
My best friend on the 3 things she likes the least about me:
- You’re super independent and it can make others around you feel inadequate or replaceable because you don’t need anyone
- You’re very agreeable and easily excited which sometimes gives the impression you’re disingenuine
- You don’t always let people in
Doing this exercise was extremely therapeutic. It enabled me to unmask these parts of myself, both positive and negative, that I wasn’t giving credit to, or was unconsciously denying.
Take the second thing my sister said about me as an example, “You don’t show emotion.” She’s right. I don’t — at least not when it comes to sadness, fear, attachment etc. and she’s not the first person to tell me this either. In many of my past relationships, I’ve been told I’m “cold” and my partners felt like I didn’t let them in.
By reflecting on my sister’s words, I realized the emotionless side of me is a mask I wear to protect my hidden emotions (funny, eh?). It stems back to when I was 16-years-old, and my father rejected me and told me he wanted nothing to do with me. And although I’ve forgiven him, this exercise made me realize I haven’t completely healed from that experience.
Or the first thing my partner said he dislikes about me, “you don’t always do what you advise other people to do.” Ugh, I was secretly hoping no one would point this out!
When he said this I could feel my stomach drop because he’s right. I’m SO good at advising other people what to do in their lives, and SO bad at taking my own advice, even though it would benefit me the most!
But, the truth is, I’m not alone (Yay for me!) because all of us have a closet full of masks we wear on a rotational basis. We select each mask based on who’s around, where we are and what we’re doing.
Before we can take off our masks and unleash our true selves, we have to first understand why we put the masks on, to begin with, otherwise, they’ll keep reappearing without us realizing they’re there.
So my question for you is, are you ready to discover what you’ve been hiding from yourself and why?
List 3 to 5 adjectives that you believe best describe your strengths
List 3 to 5 adjectives that you believe best describe your weaknesses
Identify 3 people who are close to you and can give you honest advice about what they believe are your 3 best traits and 3 worst traits
Reach out to the 3 people you’ve selected and say to them, “Hi (first name)! I need a favor from you, and I’m inviting you to be completely open and honest with me — I promise not to get upset. I’m doing an exercise to uncover hidden parts of myself that I may be unconsciously denying so I can work through them and heal myself. I’d like you to tell me the 3 things you like the most about me, and the 3 things you like the least about me.“
Use this worksheet to record your answers and findings.
I know this is a difficult exercise to work through because it involves facing parts of yourself you may be afraid to face, but I assure you — it’s worth it. By going through these steps, you’ll discover your closet of masks, and why you wear them…and somewhere in that closet there’s a key that unlocks your estranged, hidden, limitless self…are you ready to open it?
About Antasha Durbin: Antasha is a spiritual writer, life-long student of the universe, and psychic tarot card reader. Her website, cajspirituality.com, is dedicated to casualizing the spiritual experience and making it attainable for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Follow her for free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living.