Do you know who you really are?

In Antoine de Saint-Exupery's enduring classic, The Little Prince, a pilot whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little boy, a prince, from a small planet. The boy recounts his space-travelling adventures and search for the secret of what is important in life. About grown-ups and their ways, he says "When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him." 

The little prince was very perceptive in his observation of grown-ups and so often this is the way a conversation will unfold when you meet someone for the first time. It's all about what they do for a living, where they live, where their children go to school and so on. This level of understanding can build the framework of what we know about people and how we judge them. But more than this, it can inform the way we view and feel about ourselves too, comparing life on a level of status and practicalities, rather than being deeply interested in who people really are, deep down and what they believe in. By engaging on a deeper level it's much easier to find common ground or to be inspired by other people's passions and ideals. But how many of us really know who we are, ourselves, to begin with? 

Sometimes people don't really know what they think and feel deep down and can also lose sight of exactly what they want in life. But tapping into this and understanding more about our inner feelings is key to gaining an insight into who we really are. One way of doing this is through creative journaling. Usually when people think about a journal or diary, they think of a book of words. But a 'creative journal' is so much more - the process allows us to delve into our feelings and thoughts in a very informal way. It's fun, fulfilling, easy to do and you don't need any artistic skills. 

If asked, many people would say they're not creative, but you don't need to be artistic to be creative. I see this regularly in my work with clients. We all use our imagination to make the simplest tasks come alive, from making breakfast to choosing an outfit - even developing a business plan is a creative process. And the very act of being creative increases our capacity to imagine possibilities and make them real. Creative expression is actually known to be good for us, it can decrease anxiety, raise serotonin levels and give us a way in to our imagination. 

In essence, a creative journal is a collection of words and images, which allows you to express yourself. This relaxing practice is sometimes combined with creative visualisation - a mental technique that uses the imagination to make dreams come true and create what you want in life. Different mediums are used in the journal, like words, pictures, poetry, colour, doodling, textures etc. Much of the creation is done instinctively, but by observing your choices and direction, you will notice patterns and gain an insight into the way you feel about things and also what you really want in life. Understanding more about this is not only enlightening, but highly beneficial for bringing about change. 

You can begin creative journaling on your own or attend a workshop to learn the basics - it's also really valuable to share ideas in a group dynamic and many people enjoy this supportive approach. If you'd like to have a go on your own Shakti Gawain's book, Creative Visualization, offers a great source of information. One of the easiest and most accessible ways to make a start is by using lists - they are a simple, easy way to get into the process and engage your thoughts. Do trust yourself to come up with your own, but in the meantime, here are a few powerful ideas. Remember the lists don’t need to be lists as in the traditional sense of a string of written words, they could be pictures, scribbles, doodles. Discover what works best for you: 

Appreciation
Capture things you are thankful for - this can really open up your heart and connect your awareness.

Self esteem
What do you like about yourself? List all your positive qualities (not an ego trip), the better you feel about yourself and the more you acknowledge your own wonderful qualities, the happier and more loving you will be. 

Success
Past and current successes, big and small. It's great to give yourself a pat on the back and in doing so getting a better understanding of the elements that contributed to that success.

Meaningful
Everything in your life that has meaning to you. From the smallest ritual to the deepest belief. 

Fantastic and creative Ideas
Ideas, plans or dreams you have, even if they are far-fetched or seemingly unachievable.

Never did
Things you've always wanted to do, but have never got around to doing/exploring. Simply including something on a list can sometimes be enough to make it happen!

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Written by Yvonne Fernando

As a NLP master practitioner and life coach, Yvonne supports clients through change to give them more confidence, help them become 'unstuck' and move forward - keeping them focused, motivated and on track. Sessions are designed to open up horizons and create new possibilities. Yvonne also runs inspiring workshops throughout the year.… Read more

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