For many of us, the path to finding self-love and confidence in our skin is littered with obstacles. Now, more than ever before, we are constantly bombarded with fabricated stories and advertisements about what beauty and success looks like as we go about our daily lives. The harsh truth is that much of the content we interact with is designed to achieve a set outcome. Whether that is helping companies to make money or enabling governments globally to control the masses. This is done by triggering insecurities, promoting conformity with various ideals and encouraging the pursuit of perfection.

While I generally like to think that life is about bigger goals than just striving for happiness, it’s not something to be taken lightly. This is especially, true given the huge shifts we are currently experiencing in society. I believe the relationship between self-intimacy, happiness and overall life satisfaction are important topics we should all contemplate for our well-being.

Ultimately, this is so because the extent we can be intimate with ourselves determines how we interact and relate to the world around us. It underpins how we behave in relationships. Whether they be romantic, platonic, professional, or familial. Self-intimacy is also deeply entwined with how we give and receive love, whether we do so in an attached or detached manner, and our capacity to direct it towards ourselves when it is most needed.

For those of you who have not heard the term self-intimacy before, let me explain, I am not referring to sexual intimacy here. Self-intimacy is the first critical step in getting to know ourselves, our essence, our shadow self, and the things that make us unique and beautiful in our own right.

It is typically cultivated and a product of lived experiences that have moulded us into who we are today. It comes about through deep and shameless analysis and evaluation of ourselves, which helps us to know what we value and why, our strengths, limitations, boundaries, likes, dislikes, passions and needs. It is our truth. It doesn’t need to be explained or justified to anyone. It emerges only when you are willing to travel to the depths of your soul, reject the projections, desires and stigmas of others and sit alone, ideally lovingly and compassionately, in self-examination.

While some people might argue that carving time out daily to develop more intimacy with yourself is absurd, selfish or self-absorbed, it is indeed the complete opposite. When we know ourselves, on an intimate level, we can be ourselves. We can provide a safe, non-judgmental space for others to do the same. We are also less shaken by events that may unfold around us, better equipped to sort through external noise, and confident enough to stand in our truth happily, with absolute conviction.

Pausing to examine our preferences and desires not only allows us to develop a greater level of self-awareness. It also makes us more considerate. By cultivating inner knowing and acceptance, we become closer to others. Through exploring our inner Self, we can also become more aware of the humanity within each of us, go deeper in connection with others, and be less concerned with achieving socially constructed ideals. And relate to the world in a more meaningful and engaged way. It is a pathway to inner peace in a world full of plastic and chaos.

Here are five ways you can become more intimate with yourself in under 30 minutes a day:

Accept yourself as you are

Honour yourself. Every morning when you wake up or when you are standing in front of the mirror getting ready for the day ahead, repeat the affirmation:

I accept myself as I am, with all my limitations. With all my qualities, and good points too. I love and approve of myself. Every day, in every single way.

This mirror work affirmation will reprogram your mind at an unconscious level and help you cultivate a deep sense of self-love and acceptance, flaws and all. Repeating this affirmation will help to remove mental barriers that stop you from becoming the most genuine and fearless version of yourself. Even if you have to suffer the consequences of doing so.

Be vulnerable

Show up and be yourself. Make a conscious effort to remove the layers you ordinarily wear to protect yourself in your daily interactions. I am not referring to clothing layers, rather, the frame you apply to a situation to make it seem more appealing, glamorous, disastrous or dramatic, for example.

Living genuinely and authentically enables you to naturally gravitate towards who share similar values and interests. You will get comfortable with the fact that not everyone will love you or understand you — and become increasingly ok with that.

Watch your triggers

Make a conscious effort to notice what triggers your shadow side. The key things that upset you or irritate you about others.

For clarity, if you haven’t heard of it before, your shadow side is the darker aspect of the Self we ordinarily try to hide, ignore or suppress. Once you identify your triggers or notice a reoccurring theme in your relationships with others, sit in a quiet space with a notepad and pen. Ask yourself why the behaviour or thing evoked an internal response from you. Then ask yourself ‘why’ in response to your response another four times until you arrive at the heart of the issue. This exercise is called the 5 whys. It will reveal your thought process to you. And you will learn a lot about your values and inner most authentic self.

Start a journal

Commit to writing your thoughts out for a short period of time each day. Keep your journal somewhere safe. It is your present to you — your most intimate thoughts. When you write in your journal, promise yourself complete honesty. You will not exaggerate or play down events or emotions. You will not paint yourself as a martyr, victim or villain. Be raw and real. Don’t judge yourself. Just get whatever is in your head out on paper. In addition to improved self-awareness and self-intimacy, journals, from a psychological standpoint, are very good at helping you to develop clarity of thought. Committing just 10 minutes a day to this practice benefits the human psyche. Over time, this practice will allow you to notice patterns in your thinking that may need to be addressed to enhance your relationship with yourself and improve your quality of life. If you are looking for inspiration, try meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It is a great read and could be a good starting point.

Allow yourself to explore one new pleasure each week

This one is intentionally broad. Pleasure is whatever you allow it to be — something that stimulates the five senses or a new activity that looks fun. This will bring you towards greater clarity about your likes and dislikes.

Pausing regularly to strengthen intimacy with ourselves allows us to develop self-awareness, self-compassion and self-acceptance. By exploring our inner Self, we can engage with the world more constructively. We can build more authentic and meaningful relationships. We can become more conscious of the humanity within each of us. And we become far less concerned with achieving socially constructed ideals. These practices are a pathway to inner peace in a world full of plastic and chaos – they are worth exploring if you want to improve your overall happiness and life satisfaction.