Therapy is about understanding and taking care of yourself – What pushes you to behave certain ways? What do you need to feel good? What is important to you? What direction do you want to head? What do you think about and want for yourself? Self-awareness, self-care, self-compassion, and self-actualization are four important self-skills built in therapy.
Self-awareness refers to the ability to know yourself- your thoughts, emotions, values, beliefs, and bodily sensations. If you are self-aware, you know what’s important to you. You know what you want. You know how you feel and what you believe. Self-awareness allows you to reflect on your actions and determine what you can change to be more effective. Being self-aware you notice when your body alerts you to danger or safety. You can tell when you are becoming irritable, uncomfortable, or excited. You are aware of your thoughts and feelings and can manage them before they hijack you.
Self-care is about tending to your wellness. Self-care is commonly equated with pampering. Indeed, mani-pedis and bubble baths can be part of your self-care routines, but to be physically and psychologically well, you need more than nail polish. Self-care means that you manage your life in a way that is sustainable and meets your mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, and recreational needs.
Self-compassion is being kind, understanding, and patient with yourself instead of critical, judgmental, or beating yourself up. Self-compassion is talking to yourself in the same gentle and loving way you would talk with a child or dear friend.
Abraham Maslow studied psychological development and identified universal human needs, such as food and shelter, love and belonging, esteem, creativity and meaning, and self-actualization. Self-actualization is becoming the best version of yourself, reaching your potential, fulfilling your dreams and purpose. Self-actualization is the ultimate goal of therapy. Self-awareness, self-care, and self-compassion pave the road to self-actualization.