“The privilege of a lifetime is to be who we are.” ~ Joseph Campbell
This next step in INNERSPACE is made possible by the previous articles and lessons. Having examined what helps and hinders our growth and contentment (ego, mindfulness, fear, gratitude), we are now able to discover our authentic selves. We have learned that we are not our thoughts, but rather that there is this part of our mind called ego and it is narrating and judging the world constantly. This is not who we are. We learned mindfulness and gratitude are tools to gain control over that meandering mind, redirecting it toward a more productive and powerful focus. We learned that fear and limiting beliefs block us from living authentic lives. The fear stories we have created to make sense of the world may have served us at some point, but perhaps no longer. Fear is our ego trying to be important and serve as our ‘safety officer’. Over time, we can become burdened with false information that detracts us from our authenticity. In fact, ego is often called the “false self” for the simple reason that it is not our truest self.
In his book The Four Agreements, author and spiritual teacher don Miguel Ruiz describes our lives as the waking dream. We believe the world as we are living it is complete reality. We learned all the rules and ‘the way things are to be’ from parents, schools, religion, friends, extended family, the media and community. Ruiz contends this “waking life” is not entirely objective and therefore not as real as we think it is. What we learned along the way, innocently and often with the best of intentions from the world around us is:
- what we could fail at
- how we need to make sure we can make money
- how we needed to pack up our child’s things and become adults, among other things.
But that’s life, we say…. Is it? Should it be? The lesson we hear is conform, and in some cases fear. It is important to know how to properly move through life, however it can compromise our authentic selves. As we conform and fear failing, we suppress our true selves. To rediscover our authentic selves, we must shed these layers of conformity and spend some time determining our own truths. We must take some time and let go of what others think to begin to allow our true selves to appear. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown shares her 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living, the first of which is authenticity. She states that in order to cultivate authenticity in our lives, we need to let go of what other people think. Not exactly easy for most people and therefore a process to be undertaken.
What is your truth?
To walk our own authentic path involves a little (and sometimes a lot) of work and we may disappoint some people. We can grow our ability to stand in our own authentic light, and endure the confusion or disappointment of others, without conforming to others views of what is right for us. We are drawn to doing this whether we follow that desire or not. We may suppress the desire for years. This does not necessarily mean making a big life change, winning a Pulitzer prize, or becoming a millionaire. Rather it is the process, big or small, of rediscovering who you really are beyond the projections of others. There is no time like the present to meet your own wonderful self!
Who are you?
You are not your labels (wife, mother, daughter, friend, husband, father, executive).
You are not your age, hair color, or weight.
You are not your house, your bank account, or job title.
Your are not your thoughts.
“Then who am I?!” we say in frustration as all of our labels fall short of describing our authentic selves. In the words of the late great Wayne Dyer, “You are the you that never changes.” We are the “me” that has been there all along.
Ways to reconnect with your authentic self:
Answer the following questions.
What did you love as a child?
What would you do if you could do anything in the world?
How do you like to spend your free time?
What makes you feel good?
What makes you feel bad?
What brings you joy?
What are your interests?
If you aren’t sure about the answers above, rather than getting frustrated get curious and start learning and trying new things.
What resonates with you?
What makes your scalp tingle?
What causes your heart to open?
As we explore the answers to those questions, another useful tool is finding out our Myers Briggs personality type assessment. Free online tests for your The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), based on the late psychologist Carl Jung’s archetypes, are available. A 10-15 minute answering of questions can determine your type. While we are all unique, however we tend to fall into 16 basic behavioral tendencies. Knowing our Myers Briggs and reading the personality assessment can be empowering and insightful. There is no right or wrong, but rather we are built to enjoy or dislike different things; some analytical, some creative and a number of combinations that can be seen and felt when reading the description of our type. (To find out your MBTI with a free test visit www.16personalities.com)
Often we discover our authentic selves when there is a breakdown in our lives. Major life changes, crises, tragedy have a way of making us examine our authenticity.
My personal journey: There is a fine line between breakdown and break through. Often our crises have a way of introducing us to meet our authentic selves. Discovery of my own path occurred in the wake of surrender after my ego and heart took a beating. In the wake of the loss of my son in 2004 and younger sister in 2009, my life choices were affected and over time as I adapted to my circumstances, I realized that I had changed the direction of my career. I surrendered because I did not know what step to take next. We spend much of our lives working on (and through) complex plans we make for ourselves. Life’s challenges altered my plans and I noticed my expertise had changed, and that perhaps too, my career options should change. I contemplated my past and what was most authentic to me. I looked back to my childhood. I was an avid reader and writer back as far as I could remember. As a teen, I wanted to be a psychologist. In high school, participation in a mock trial as a prosecutor lit my fire for law and I wanted to be a lawyer. Then through circumstance and lack of confidence in affording seven years of college, I changed my major to communication. After many years of working in business communication and enjoying it, I realized this was no longer authentic to me. When I revisited this past, in detail and with an open mind adding in my experience to date, I realized that life coaching and writing are more suitable to my life and interests today. It is based on a fundamental character that was there all along. And here I am today, a life coach writing this article. All of the information I’ve shared is pure joy to me. My time spend learning, reading, writing, sharing, teaching, group coaching, working one- on-one with clients is my authentic self. I am growing in my coaching practice and my ability to write is far from perfect or even where I want it! My desire to write keeps me learning and growing in this endeavor. It is extremely joyful! My genuine interest and appreciation for clients and the opportunity to teach resilience energizes me for the future. ~ Kim Perone
Taking time to discover our authentic selves is a joy that only we can offer ourselves. No one else can do it for us. Examining our skills, talents, likes and dislikes, our lives beyond our roles is time well spent!
Finding your authentic self does not mean a job or career change specifically. For each individual it will appear differently. It may mean opening up to new hobbies, letting go of inauthentic roles, it may allow you to cease doing some things while adding other activities, it means dropping false facades and insecurities that may cause you to be less than authentic with certain groups of people, but most importantly, it results in a sense of ease, contentment, and even joy.
In future weeks, we will continue to learn more about mastering our mind, looking inward, and connecting to our truest selves. You are so worth it! Thank you for investing this time in Innerspace. If you are interesting in joining the INNERSPACE Facebook Group we would be happy to welcome you!
Kim Perone, Certified Life Coach at The Center for Clarity, Compassion & Contentment serves clients with one-on-one and group coaching. She can be reached at [email protected], (518) 301-3593.
For more information on life coaching and The Center’s activities, visit www.Center4c.com.