One of the huge benefits of getting older is that we get better at life in general. We can manage our jobs and our relationships with more finesse. (Of course, parenthetically, we should try to do things that are not so easy and not so familiar so that we keep our brains flexible and active.) Anyway, another big benefit of getting older is that we come to know ourselves better. At least we do if we have practices of self reflection, including meditation and journaling as well as psychotherapy–each with different types of action and different benefits.
One advantage of coming to know ourselves is being able to let ourselves know about the parts of ourselves that we do not like so much. We come to see that everyone is growing and repairing and learning all the time, including us. We are not perfect. We have jealousy and greed, rage and remorse. Maybe that is part of what life is about: perfecting ourselves as much as we can in this lifetime.
It is a great pleasure to be known and understood by the people we care about. It is an equal pleasure to reflectively understand ourselves. With a deep and honest connection with ourselves, we can be freer in the world, both in relationships and in our own sense of well-being. We can come to appreciate the complexity of who we are, with its many idiosyncratic quirks and nuances. We can like the persons we are, even while trying to grow. As Jack Kornfield says, “You are perfect the way you are, and there is still room for improvement.” Now if we could just take that approach to our own relationship with ourselves, things might lighten up a little.
Psychotherapy helps us know ourselves deeply when it is done right. Sometimes it takes another person to give us the perspective from outside the system. Sometimes it helps if another person can know us and accept us so that we can do that for ourselves. Our relationships are absolutely central systems to providing us with opportunities for growth and self-knowledge. And, when we keep at it and it works right, that self-knowledge becomes internal–a centered sense of who we are and what matters to us, with an accurate view of our own internal reality. And that is our relationship with ourselves.