As we enter a new year, it is expected that many individuals are beginning to self-reflect and find things to create resolutions, goals, or aspirations that they hope to reach this year. To help with this, I have found that looking at myself through the lens of someone else has been an intimidating but exciting way to determine what I want to change about myself and what I hope to continue through the new year. Essentially, ask yourself, “Would I be friends with myself if I were someone else?”

Imagine, for a day, you trade places with someone in the world around you. This new identity also comes with a fresh and unique perspective of who your original self is. This exercise brings newfound self-awareness within us to carry out change for the better but also allows us to give ourselves empathy where we might currently be too harsh. What characteristics about yourself do you think you would find charming? Are you kind? Are you dependable? Do you have a witty sense of humor? On the other hand, what characteristics would you be critical of?

With this exercise, the most significant factor is empathy. Looking at yourself, do you think you would be empathetic toward that person to try to better understand their motivations behind the actions and behaviors? This hypothetical scenario allows you to dissect the complex and dense motivation behind shaping your choices, gain a greater understanding, and become more compassionate toward yourself. Would you be able to feel sympathetic toward your shortcomings, or would you be harsher on yourself than you would if it were someone else?

This exercise is an abstract journey that invites the possibility of a new and different perspective from viewing ourselves as unchangeable beings to seeing ourselves as complex and ever-growing individuals capable of self-appreciation and growth. Gaining this self-awareness allows for the next step of self-improvement. We can then work toward becoming more self-compassionate and address areas where we want to see change within ourselves. There are many ways this can be done. Therapy is a great way to continue self-exploration while gaining a new and unbiased perspective that can allow us to recognize things in a new way! Through therapy, we can create obtainable and tangible goals and have someone to hold us accountable in carrying out actions to get where we want to be! Positive habits can be developed to ensure and create gratitude for ourselves while also learning and growing to figure out what works for us and what abilities we have.

Although this exercise takes self-awareness and can be intimidating, it is a great way to challenge and appreciate ourselves in a new light while also being able to address and create change in areas that we see fit. This practice allows for a transformative and exciting new perspective on empathy as well as self-criticism.