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Mullen-Johnson: Starting The Journey of Self-Discovery

By Crystal Mullen-Johnson

With a new year approaching it is a great time to rewrite your story and create your new beginning. 2021 yielded many unexpected events, which could have improved or stunted your personal growth and self-development. Now with the new year on the horizon, it is time to put the past behind and start your journey of self-discovery.

Begin your journey of self-discovery by spending time in self-reflection about what you desire to accomplish in 2022. Self-reflection can provide time for introspection through examining decisions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-reflection also provides an opportunity for growth and as you acknowledge life lessons gained from personal experiences.

Begin your journey of self-discovery by thinking of three positive experiences in 2021 and how those experiences shaped you.

Practice the following self-care activities to reflect on those experiences:

Journaling – Journaling provides an outlet for emotional expression. Writing down your thoughts promote healing and personal growth. Reviewing your journal entries helps you discover strengths and weakness.  Journaling does not have to be structured. Use journaling prompts to provide ideas on topics on which you want to write. Those topics provide guidance on expressing your feelings.

Meditation – Mediation is a mindfulness practice that requires focus and concentration. During mediation you can practice performing effective breathing techniques and reciting mantras. The practice of performing effective breathing can provide patience, bring feelings of peace, reduce stress, and encourage mindfulness. Mantras are positive statements or chants. Positive statements help improve your mood and self-confidence and are also empowering.

Therapy – Clinical Therapy provides a non-judgmental environment to share your thoughts and feelings with a licensed mental health professional. Therapists help identify psychological, emotional, or behavioral issues, then define goals and a plan of action to help achieve personal and social development.  In therapy, you are encouraged to be honest and transparent as all sessions with a therapist are completely confidential. Therapists can also help explore negative thought patterns, then develop healthier thoughts, effective problem-solving skills, healthy communication skills, and improved self-confidence.

Prayer – Prayer provides a connection to your high power. Prayer, coupled with therapy, provides hope, guidance, and emotional support.

Be optimistic and adopt a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset while rewriting your story. A growth mindset provides an optimistic outlook in which you recognize the potential to become better. A fixed mindset provides a pessimistic outlook in which you believe your qualities are unchangeable. According to Carole Dweck a licensed psychologist and author of “Mindset” “the growth and fixed mindsets is how you learn to navigate life.” She reminds us that “your view of life can determine everything.”

Do not dwell on your mistakes, instead learn from them.  Do not allow negative thoughts to take residence in your mind, instead proactively replace them positive thoughts. Know your positive value, love yourself unconditionally, and “strive” for a healthier you.

It has been a pleasure connecting with you this year through my monthly publications. Thank you for taking time to read my monthly column and provide feedback via my social media handles, phone calls, and emails. Your feedback is valuable to my personal growth and development. My goal and hope are through reading my monthly columns, you become equipped with tools to increase your self-awareness and improve your mental health.

Life is a journey, and WE are on this journey together. I look forward to supporting you in rewriting your story to become a healthier you in ‘22. I pray you find peace, joy, and happiness this holiday season.  Happy Holidays!

Ms. Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham, AL with more than 16 years of experience in providing counseling. Strive Counseling Services is a private practice located in downtown Birmingham that offers therapeutic mental health services to children (play therapy), adolescents, and adults. Strive offers evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Contact us at (205) 721-9893 to inquire about Telehealth Services or visit our website, www.strivebhm.com.