Knowing ourselves is essential for making supportive decisions, for taking compassionate care of ourselves and for living a fulfilling life. After all, when we know what we need and want, what our natural tendencies and preferences are, we can act accordingly. That is, we can act in ways that honor ourselves.
Knowing ourselves is an ongoing, ever evolving, lifetime process. And we tend to learn new things when we try new things. When we explore another part of ourselves. When we pay attention to something we haven’t noticed in a while (or maybe even ever before).
Photographer Alessandra Cave includes a variety of wonderful exercises in her book Shooting with Soul: 44 Photography Exercises Exploring Life, Beauty and Self-Expression. These exercises can help us discover ourselves through a different lens. Here are three prompts to try:
- Capture your reflection. Cave suggests going to a place you’re drawn to. Once there, search out different reflective surfaces, and snap photos of yourself. Maybe you take photos of your entire body, your face, your feet, your hand. Maybe you capture your reflection in a mirror, TV screen, car window, utensil, puddle or pair of sunglasses. As Cave writes, “Before you press the shutter, enjoy a moment of stillness. Acknowledge yourself in that moment and image. Then shoot your reflection and create long-lasting proof that you were in that place.”
- Capture your wardrobe and style. Look through your closet, and select a few pieces that represent your truest self. This might include clothes, shoes, watches, jewelry and purses. Snap photos of these items amid different backgrounds, such as on a wall or floor inside your home or outside “hanging on a tree, an outdoor clothes lines or draped over a fence.”
- Capture your inspiration. According to Cave, “Inspiration is the energy that moves through us when we align our souls with the divine. It opens our imagination and fuels our minds with new ideas…It is the magic that happens when we tune into our surroundings and breathe in its beauty.” (Isn’t that a beautiful description?) She suggests creating a mood board of visual inspiration (for instance with words and images from magazines that resonate with you). Then photograph your board, up close and far away in its entirety. But remember that you can interpret this (and the other prompts) in any way you want.
There are all sorts of things we don’t really know about ourselves. Which is why it’s important (and fun and fascinating) to try different activities to find out. Something as seemingly small as exploring your style or inspiration can reveal your voice. It can reveal what’s meaningful to you in this moment. It can reveal what’s on your mind and inside your soul.
Take the time to explore these activities. Take the time to explore yourself and what’s important for you.