Getting to know the authentic self that is hiding deep inside you is the first step on the long path of liberation.
Just think about it, if you dare. Your true self is hidden deep within you, covered by layers upon layers of opinions, expectations, and excuses. You are not what you think you are or what you’re expecting of yourself or how you excuse your behavior in front of yourself and others.
The sooner you let go of this well-practiced character you play, the sooner you’ll reach your authentic self. This is the person you’ll feel at home with, however flawed or afraid they might be. This is the person you’ll be able not to change, but to shape, mold, hone and improve.
Everything else would be a lie, and lies are heavy. Lies weigh you down like chains.
But how do you reach this person you’ve ghosted for so long?
Venturing inward is the best chance you have. Instead of keeping everything on the surface, dive deeper underneath. Introspection will help you break the ice and adjust your eyes to the dark. But make no mistake, you’ll need to go pass beyond what feels comfortable and safe.
You’ll need to start reflecting upon what you’re seeing there.
Self-reflection is looking the truth in the eyes and living to tell. It’s also a learning experience that allows you to discover who you are and what you want.
Self-reflection always leads to insight, thus contributing always new and accurate details to your once distorted self-image.
Getting to know your authentic self starts with these five open-ended questions:
What Are Five Non-Negotiable Values in My Life?
Being flexible and willing to compromise is a fine quality in a person, but even the best of us must draw a line somewhere. The things you are not ready to negotiate on are your non-negotiable values. They are your very essence, the foundations, and principles of your true being.
Do you know what they are?
Figuring out what matters the most to you will keep you on course through thick and thin. Not only in terms of moral fiber and integrity, no. Even more importantly, these non-negotiable values will help you stay empowered and in control of everything you need to reach your goal.
At the same time, they will help you discover your priorities in life.
So ask yourself this:
- What about your life fills you with pure love and joy?
- What are some of the qualities you admire the most?
Maybe you’ll say health, self-expression, and authority, or honesty, friendship, and family. To a lot of people, love, empathy, and faith are non-negotiable. For me, that’s creativity, beauty, and love. For you, it may be something very different, like success, diligence, and ambition.
There are no wrong answers here.
What Would I Do If I Couldn’t Fail?
The fear of failure masks our greatest desires.
Fear stands between you and your authentic self too, keeping you comfortably tucked in a bed of lies. This is your Netflix & Chill persona telling you that you are too fat to get up and start pursuing beauty. You can try, it whispers in your ear, but you’ll only end up embarrassing yourself.
This is your corporate self, telling you that you’d never succeed as an artist. Or your stay-at-home-mom fear, preventing you from seeking a career.
Terrified of failing, we often decide not to even try. This is why so many of us end up miserable in our private and professional relationships. Instead of seeking what we truly want at the cost of failure, we choose to settle for less. It’s so much safer there, where you cannot fail.
But what would you do if you were guaranteed success?
Whatever your instinct is screaming right now is what you really want from this life.
So what if you fail? You’ll not be the first nor last to lose hope and regain new strength. If you think about it, you have absolutely nothing to lose. Bruises will only make you wiser and closer to who you are. You’ll understand that success is not in succeeding, but in overcoming fear.
What Are the Experiences I Want to Have to Live My Dream Life?
Of course, life isn’t solely about collecting those crowning gems.
Though staying focused on your quest is admirable, you must take some time to recharge your batteries and recuperate your energy. This will help you appreciate your achievements more, which will, in turn, keep you energized and motivated enough to reach the end goal.
Do you know what else you must do from time to time? Self-reflect on the things you’ve done and the person you’ve become.
This is why what happens on sidequests may be even more important than all the obstacles you overcome while your eyes are fixed on the prize.
These are the experiences you go through alone or share with the people you love, only seemingly uneventful and unmeaningful. Like visiting Louvre or climbing the Mount Everest.
Your bucket list must be full of these and similar forgotten gems. Find some time to collect these too. They will keep you grounded and in touch with who you are even after you become a big shot with no time for life’s simple pleasures. Cherish them as priceless things they are.
What Is on My Schedule That Doesn’t Need to Be There?
Have you figured out who is your biggest enemy in life? No, it’s not fear. It’s time.
Whether or not you’ll fear the inevitable depends on you alone. This paralyzing, irrational emotion can be overcome with a shred of will, but time can never be stopped. The best you can do about it is not to be wasteful. Commit your time to two things – mindfulness and growth.
Mindfulness feels like breaking the clock, as it allows you to freeze the moment and savor every last bit of it. Growth on the hand is the closest thing we have to a time-defying spell. The more you grow, the longer you’re remembered. Grand people are immortal, like long-dead stars.
So think about what you’re doing with your time. Is it carefully managed in a way that nurtures your non-negotiable values?
Are there things on your schedule that you can abandon or cut back? Have you made promises for a couple of months from now that you will regret then? Are you giving away your precious time on toxic people? Be grateful for the time you’ve been given. Don’t throw it away.
What Am I Doing That I Don’t Enjoy, and What Am I Doing That I Love?
In discovering who you are and what you want, perhaps the most telling signs are the things you’re doing on a daily basis. The things you enjoy, you should keep. The things you hate, not so much. Day by day, they are taking you one step further from who you truly are.
Of course, not all good things are enjoyable. You cannot throw around self-reflection as an excuse for being a selfish partner of a bad friend. If you hate going to work, you shouldn’t quit just because.
Life is a fickle thing and you must discover the balance between your authentic self and a sufficient version of you.
If you look deep down and see that you’re afraid, look again. That’s your crooked self-belief that’s distorting your true image.
But to return to your last question on the path to self-discovery, use self-reflection to see what you love and enjoy the most. Let these things be something worth sacrificing for, an intrinsic motivation behind doing the necessary things you don’t enjoy very much.
Never give up on your authentic self in return for love and success.
An actor can only play a role for that long before losing all sense of who he is. Make honesty your non-negotiable value, live with no fear of your hidden flaws, embrace the experiences that make you vulnerable and exposed, and spend more time reflecting upon your choices.
But most importantly, do everything for a chance to do what you love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kolyanne Russ is a relationship and love coach with a conscious and stress-free approach. She loves to empower and motivate people to live great lives and pursue their passions. She works with fabulous women to help them create a vision of their ideal relationship and gain the confidence to achieve it. Kolyanne also writes and shares educational and inspirational content on her blog at Pinch of Attitude.
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