I have found that for most interpersonal struggles, and life questioning, there is one solution: Know, Trust & Love Yourself.
Easier said than done, right? How DO we know, love and trust ourselves if we are primarily focused on "doing" in the world? It takes a conscious effort to turn within and discover who we are. It isn't taught in school and it isn't mirrored by our loved ones (unless you are a rare person with a rare loved one). What we see in others is what others are showing us about themselves. What people do is about them, not us, though if it happens often enough, with enough people, we start to draw false conclusions about ourselves. Its easy to think that because others show up a certain way, this is a reflection of us. But we need to develop discernment through a conscious relationship with ourselves, which includes our thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs and our actions (past and present) to truly know about ourselves. Remember, everyone around us is falling into line with what they were taught too! So we can't expect the world to tell us who we are. It's truly an inside job.... The society most of us were raised in and continue to live in, is focused on getting us to buy things and convincing us of what is lacking, not reflecting our true intrinsic worth.
So HOW DO you Know, Trust and Love yourself, and in what order? Isn't it an act of self love to attempt to know who we really are? I think we also build trust with ourselves as we take self loving actions. In the end, all three actions support each other. For example, I had a huge, viceral "aha experience" about the depth of my escapism through always putting my happiness in some distant (or not too distant) future. But by admitting this to myself, I hit a bottom in regard to living a life in any way for others. Even if the so called others were just parts of me that I had internalized through interacting with the world around me, my whole life! What a huge insight to see that the reason I was running was because I thought I was bad on some very fundamental level... that I was bad for just being me. I was always unconsciously adjusting myself to fit what I thought others expected or what I felt was what was "right" or "loving" or "spiritual" or what I thought would get me what I thought I wanted. But come to find out that what I really wanted was to be totally comfortable in my own skin, without ever once having to prove my worth to anyone by my words, intonation or actions.
In this case, I mistook my strong desire to keep moving, keep pressing forward out of my present circumstances, into some fantasy future as a genuine need, and that doing so was an act of self love. In the end, I see that I do like to travel and explore different places, and that my envionment is more important to me than many other people. But I also saw that it was exaggerated and out of proportion with other needs that I was neglecting, due to the pain and wound that shrouded those other needs. By being willing to see, feel and explore this deeper truth, I was performing an act of self love and simultaneously building trust within myself by taking new behaviors for my own higher and best interest (beyond my strong impulses and tendencies). Knowing, Loving and Trusting self are all intricately connected.
Our society is filled with messages to look outside of ourselves for contentment, answers and even how we should be or show up in our day to day lives. There is so much indoctrination that happens when we are children, particularly in the west. As adults we now have to unlearn all that we "put on" over our simple, yet divine soul.
Most of us have lost our connection to our essence (as in essential self) and instead, are trying to change ourselves without really knowing who we are to begin with. I think its important that spirituality is not be about adding yet another layer on our outworn and parental/societal-created self image. True spiritual awareness arises from within, even with the help of outer spiritual forces, awareness needs to come from within the core of oneself. Additionally we need to explore what isn't true, or working, in order to come into alignment with who and what we REALLY are. This is the work. Think of all the layers of un-truth we have placed over ourselves. It doesn't come off in one fail swoop.
Another way to think of this is as soul alignment. Having a sense of connection with something greater than us, yet anchored within, is the balancing force. Additionally, we can think of having good personal boundaries. We know where we start and end, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually or energetically. If we are confused about what we are responsible for vs. what others are responsible for, it can make us look outward to others for a sense of validation or even to find out who and what we are in certain situations. If we practice discernment and investigation into what we truly value, and live from that, we are in effect having sovereignty. Contrast that with having doubts and confusion about an area of our life. Chances are we are operating from our ego aspect of self, the personality that we learned from looking out at the world, rather than tuning inward.
I like this image of Quan Yin, because she is so comfortable with herself. She embodies the posture of Sovereignty. She is relaxed yet extremely confident at the same time. She is not governed by this world, but by God/Source/Spirit/Soul. She has perfect authentic integrity. Explore what it means to Live From Inner Sovereignty