“We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real…and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists.” ― Thomas Merton
In the quest to discover one’s potential, many people wander aimlessly, dazed by a sense of confusion.
Numerous self-help books line the shelves of bookstores proclaiming the latest movement or program to heal you in thirty days. Self-help groupies seek solace in New Age wisdom only to discover what is already contained within — the source of all wisdom.
Given we live in what is arguably the most prosperous period in the world’s history, why have we lost our sense of self? This confusion has given rise to a popular meme now used synonymously throughout the Western world known as first world problems.
Whilst I do not mean to diminish the value of self-improvement, the mere fact you are reading this article points to a desire for constant personal improvement which is commendable.
I affirm that our maladies may be attributed to straying from our life purpose; while similarly succumbing to external influences. The young are inundated with a plethora of information, fuelled by technological advances that have allowed us to stay connected, especially via social media.
In many ways our connections are nothing more than empty posters on an electronic billboard, which serve to remind us we belong in some way. And yet, we have an inner longing for social acceptance. It is wired into our DNA to be a part of a tribe.
The following paragraphs are what I consider to be the quintessential qualities for reconnecting with your essential self. Find yourself and be that means to connect with the essence of your being; rediscovering the core-self by living in alignment with your deepest wisdom, rather than seeking solace in an external event, person or material object.
Accepting yourself as you are involves complete acceptance of oneself by acknowledging your wholeness with all your imperfections, foibles and insecurities. You cannot disown unfavourable aspects and seek to highlight positive qualities.
This might be deemed treading a fine line toward narcissism. As you accept yourself as you are, you serve to unite your disowned parts by integrating them into your wholeness.
Similarly, a deeper knowledge of oneself seeks to represent the understanding that at a deeper level, you are more than your thoughts and emotions. I am not referring to knowing your likes or dislikes either. Rather it is a call to discover the true essence of your true self.
Who is the real you?
What are your genuine motivations?
What kindles your soul?
What are you most passionate about?
Who is this person you call the self?
As we uncover our true nature, we realise all those things we have attached to our personal identity are merely labels to give us a sense of place in the world.
Moreover many people create a false sense of self in an attempt to form an image of who they think they are. Discarding the false self is a call to abandon the beliefs and thoughts of who you think you are in place of discovering a stronger sense of self.
“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” — St. Augustine
It is believed the mind creates a false persona epitomised by the ego to keep itself alive. Unfortunately, life events (tragedy or loss) may disrupt this image and suddenly one is faced with the task of re-examining their sense of self, since the illusory shadow is shattered.
It should be added that distancing yourself from your thoughts will allow you to gain a clearer perspective of your true self. You are not your thoughts, you are the thinker and receiver of the thoughts in as much as a radio is not defined by the signal it transmits.
You cannot argue a radio is specifically bound to an FM or AM frequency, since it transmits both frequency bands and in many ways your thoughts are the frequencies you habitually entertain.
As you may know, you entertain empowering thoughts, while other times your thoughts may be less than desirable. Therefore, do not allow your thoughts to give you an impression of your real self.
Thoughts come and go, yet the essence of who you are is unchanging and authentic — connect with that part of your nature. Finding yourself beneath the veil of your obscured identity is often a challenge owing to the numerous addictions we hold onto, which keep us safe and secure.
Controlling addictions may extend to material things, people or situations. Addictions may also extend to habitual thoughts that occupy valuable energy in your mind and body. In essence, they disconnect you from your precious self.
The key is to let go of that which does not serve you. The Buddhism aphorism invites you to drop it like a hot piece of coal.
In many ways we strive to seek validation in an attempt to feel connected and part of a tribe. We do this in order to make up for any shortfalls we experienced during childhood.
Therefore, if you grew up in a household where your parents were emotionally distant, you may seek validation from others in order to feel better about yourself. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the feeling of positive emotions, doing so at the risk of relying on others to fulfil your happiness is fraught with long term unhappiness, since your inner wellbeing is dictated by external sources, rather than your own.
For that reason, let go of the need to prove yourself to others or become a people pleaser. You do not require validation from others to prove your worthiness; even from loved ones. No one or nothing can offer you the authentication you long for, other than yourself.
True validation comes from the core of your being. Your core self is a wellspring of positive feelings, which are available to be called upon. In some ways we may believe our core self has been obscured by life’s tragedies, hence we lose sight of connecting with it. It becomes a thick fog as we are unable to see the forest for the trees.
Similarly, as you seek to connect with your core self, it is vital to find time for regular silence. By finding time for regular silence, you allow yourself to connect with your true nature. You would agree that our thoughts occupy much of our attention at the best of times.
“True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Stressful and anxious thoughts conceal the core-self from revealing itself. It is the shy, introverted inner child whose voice is drowned out by the incessant, inner critic which is habitually vying for attention in your mind.
Find time to be alone every now and again, particularly in nature. Spending time outdoors allows you to reconnect with your essential nature within a tranquil setting. Being outdoors harmonises both mind and body and energises the soul.
You might be interested to know our cells are orientated to transmit an electrical charge, which corresponds to that of the earth. Earth’s resonant frequency, which is known as Schumann resonance is, 7–10 cycles per second, measured in Hertz. The average reading is 7.8 hertz.
This reading also correlates with that of humans and animals and allows for harmonic resonance. You will feel energized and in tune with your natural state as you spend more time in nature.
Also vital to uniting with your essential being is the need to align with your heart and mind.
In my book The Power to Navigate Life, I titled a chapter, Connect with Your Heart and Mind since I believe many people unknowingly live life from the level of the mind. The problem with thinking your way through life level is that you become stuck in left brain logic, since you were taught from early age to reason the world through logic alone.
As mentioned above, it has been demonstrated in experiments that the heart’s electrical impulse is 40 to 60 times greater than the brain’s. The heart often feels or initiates things well before the brain has time to make sense of it.
Recall how your major life decisions were made through feelings and intuition? We often talk about a situation felt right or it was a gut instinct, eluding to the power of the right hemisphere to guide our choices when we learn to harness its energy.
Similarly, I invite you to accept the perfection of life through the awareness that you do not have to change anything out there, since the root cause of your troubles is always contained within. As you tend to your inner world, your external reality harmonises with it. As the Hermetic aphorism states: “As within, so without.”
Granted, oftentimes we may focus our attention on pleasing others at the risk of downplaying our self-worth. I encourage you to focus on yourself first before tending to the needs of others. I do not mean you neglect others needs by becoming self-righteous or narcissistic either.
As you cultivate your own needs first, you become better suited to help others in a more powerful way. This is a basic principle of leadership whereby the leader retains the qualities he/she wishes to see in their followers. Tend to your inner world and nurture it by taking time for regular self-examination and introspection.
“At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” — Laozi
Being the irrational creatures that we are, we fail to see past our tragedies to realise life gives us encouragement even though it may not appear in the form we expect. Yet your time here is not meant to be a cycle of pain and suffering. It is within your power how you chose to respond to life’s unfolding events. Contained within that choice are your greatest lessons if you withhold judgement on how life should develop.
To concede defeat, you award power to those unpleasant events by perpetuating the victim’s role, which is an easy trap to fall into. And so, with restrained patience we remain vigilant in how we respond to life’s ups and downs.
Happiness is a choice, not an unattainable goal.
You move toward happiness the moment you declare your intention to do so. Equally, we may be content, yet happiness may elude us. When happiness entails our material and emotional needs being met, we allow it to permeate our lives with unbound richness. With our basic needs fulfilled, we want nothing more than the comfort of being present within our own body. Even unwanted thoughts fuelled with fear or anxieties are powerless over us since they are transitory states.
Your obligation is to abide by something deeper if you wish to live the life you deserve. Stand for something which conveys control and a reason to attend to the day. We receive what we ask of life. What we claim equates to our self-worth. Our self-worth is in direct proportion to the sum of our life’s experiences.
You cannot demand more if you are undeserving at some level. If you have issues with receiving, this is likely to show in how much life affords you. However, if your beliefs coincide with what you deserve, that becomes your reference point.
Unresolved childhood wounds are often related to unworthiness issues that perpetuate through maturity. Perhaps your main caregiver convinced you of your unworthiness and you have held onto this all this time. In his book, The Mind Body Code, author Dr Mario Martinez affirms this point stating, “You were never robbed of your power or your worthiness; you inadvertently disowned them.”
For that reason, avoid responding to subjective thoughts to what is lacking. Do not concede to disempowering thoughts based on an internal script. With enough energy, these learned beliefs sooner or later transform into negative states. Your reality is formed by aligning with your deepest values, not by reciting worn-out childhood inner dialogues. This is not who you are, any more than choosing to associate with your childhood toys.
Reality is reflected in your thoughts, desires and beliefs on what you deserve and are willing to accept. “Because if the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person,” states Clayton M. Christensen in his book, How Will You Measure Your Life?
Be bold through your willingness to commit to your dreams. Don’t be pushed by life’s failures since they often redirect you to a better-suited destination if you allow the journey to unfold.
Be moved by your passion and your heart’s desires.
“People are like stained — glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
There is discussion these days on the merit of visualising a purposeful future. Whilst much of the advice comes from well-intentioned life coaches, the guidance invites you to call on your imagination to bring reality to life. You have to believe it before you see it maintains the biblical saying. To embrace the life we deserve, we step into our greatness, not cower from it. You have nothing to fear other than fear itself, which holds you captive by playing small.
Marianne Williamson reminds us, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Just like a double-edged sword, if we shy away from our magnificence, it has the potential to impair our growth if we fail to use those gifts. I enjoy Steven Pressfield’s view, “A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.”
Be present and alive in each moment instead of floundering in the past or focussing on an imaginary future. Many people prevent a promising future from arriving due to negative thoughts and a belief they are undeserving of goodness. To create the life you deserve, take inspired action and move out of your comfort zone. “Life happens at the end of your comfort zone,” declares Neale Donald Walsch.
In honouring this intent, author David J. Schwartz acknowledges this belief in The Magic of Thinking Big, “Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to a solution.”
For in striving, we attain inner freedom and as the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says, “No matter what the size, colour, or shape is, the point is still to lean toward the discomfort of life and see it clearly rather than to protect ourselves from it.”
Originally published at medium.com