Do you know yourself? Do you know what you want out of life? Are the things you want things you have chosen for yourself; or are they things society, your employer, your friends, and your family have chosen for you? Can you tell the difference? Are you connected with your truest self? Are you living authentically?
If it makes you uneasy to even think about who you are at your core and what you might want, you aren’t alone.
The feeling is natural, but embrace the uneasiness. Knowing who you are and being certain of what you want whether or not you have the means to get it (at the moment) is a very important and powerful thing. As the Ancient Greek aphorism says, know thyself. There is nothing more and nothing less to the start of the journey to contentment.
You likely already know, deep down, who you truly are and what you truly want. That connection to oneself isn’t hidden on its own. We, ourselves, go to great lengths to obscure what’s there. All of us, to varying degrees, do this. However, the fault isn’t entirely our own. There are plenty of outside influences that have profound sway over our perception and our priorities. The truly free among us know themselves and accept who they are for the good and not so good.
It’s not to say that there is no room to change the things you find inside yourself that you don’t like, but you cannot change what you do not know or that which you refuse to see. What’s more, you cannot amplify the things you do like or chase after the better parts of yourself if you deny their existence or diminish their importance. And further, you can’t remove the labels of what is good and what is not so good if you don’t take the time to see those qualities just as they are.
Getting Real With Yourself
Sometimes we don’t want to look within because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of what we might see or of what we know is there but haven’t taken the time to understand. Being honest about how you feel, what you really think, and where you want to be is so important. Even if we can’t have or be everything we want it’s important to know the places where we cannot compromise. Ask yourself:
- What do I like about myself?
- What do others not like about me that I don’t want to change?
- What do I not like about myself and can’t change?
- What do I not like about myself and can change?
- What is my most hidden secret?
- What gives me energy?
- What takes my energy?
Seeing Who Sees You
Stripping away the perception of you made by others in order to figure out what you think of yourself is hard, but sometimes those perceptions can give insight to our truest selves. The people whose opinions really matter are those whose care for you extends beyond their own self interest. They are the ones who respect you. To find out who they are and who they aren’t, ask yourself:
- Whose presence brings out the parts of me I like the most?
- Who shows up to genuinely support my interests?
- Who inspires self doubt and humiliation in me?
- Who do I feel loved by?
- Who is honest with me?
- Who can I trust with my secrets?
- Who cherishes my presence? (Who likes having me around?)
And when you know who those people are you can ask them what positive things they see in you and which places they think you can improve. Decide for yourself how much weight you give their criticism and whether it aligns with what you know about yourself.
Setting Free What Has Been Hidden
Forgiving yourself for compromises you’ve made along the way to make life easier (seemingly) is something you have to do before you can set yourself free and connect with your truest self. Sometimes those compromises are deliberate and sometimes they seemed to just happen. Either way, no good will come of you dwelling on what you’ll now be leaving behind. Now you can shine by acknowledging your truest self and pushing it to the forefront of your being. When you start living more authentically to who you are keep these things in mind:
- You owe no one an explanation, but it’s not necessarily bad if you want to give one.
- You will continue changing and that’s okay, just remember to check in with yourself from time to time.
- Not everyone will understand the “new” you, but those who know you well will immediately recognize who you’ve always been.
- Life will be different and potentially better because you’ve cast aside things that no longer serve you
- You’ll still feel afraid from time to time — there’s a lot working against people who are living authentically! — but remember the fear is natural and you don’t have to succumb to it.
- If it is safe to do so be authentically yourself out loud.
We’re all works in progress and there’s no magic bullet to introspection that will guarantee you’ll stay connected with your truest self; so always extend grace to yourself. There are lots of reasons why someone can’t set their truest selves free. It can sometimes be deadly to live authentically. Still, knowing who you are despite everything else is a treasure that can never be stolen or undermined.
Now, are you living authentically? How are you connecting to your true self?