In my last blog I wrote about getting in touch with who you are as a person. My daughter thought I didn’t go far enough into the “how to’s”. So I will try to expand on the topic and give the reader more substance.
As I had stated in my last blog, much of how people view themselves is the product of years of influences from people who want them to be what they expect them to be. As children when they can’t meet the expectations of those important others, it is not unusual for them to take on such feelings as shame, guilt, disappointment, fear and/or inferiority. Without them being told that they are loved and accepted for who they are, they lose sight of their own uniqueness. This distorted and unreal sense of themselves can continue well into adulthood.
As Fred Rogers, from “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”, is quoted as saying,“Those who would try to make you feel less than you are, I think is the greatest evil.”
Unfortunately for far too many, their true essence is buried under years of being told that they were less than they truly were. The question is ” How do people change from a distorted negative sense of self to someone who is aware and embraces their true self? To answer this question, let’s begin by referring to a quote Chief Justice Ruth Ginsberg, In it she states that “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
Let’s begin to look at some of the ways you can take the journey toward authenticity, one step at a time.
Much attention is placed on eating the right foods and properly exercising. While these are important, equally important is spending time strengthening your sense of self. One step toward this goal is identify each day one small fear or uncomfortableness that keeps you from experiencing personal fulfillment. Next attempt to face that fear or uncomfortableness just for that day. Coupled with this, maintain a journal that measures your progress. Even if you fall short of your goal for the day, it can still be a success if you become aware of the roadblocks and take steps to avoid the pitfalls on the next try. Don’t forget we are all creatures of habit. You may have to try the same thing several times. Don’t be discouraged.
Another way to be more yourself is to curtail trying to get others to be the way you think they should be. It is amazing how much time is spent on thinking about how others need to change in order for you to feel better. This is a total waste of time and energy. Time would be better spent in giving up lamenting about how others adversely affect your life. It would be more productive if you focus on your own inner wants and needs and how you can get them appropriately met yourself.
Try learning to be quiet and more introspective. There is a tendency to fill air space with meaningless chatter or noise. It is almost as if there is something wrong with silence.There is so much you can learn by listening to others and also listening to yourself. The silence will allow for more of an openness to yourself and a nonjudgement ownership of your own strengths and weaknesses.
Think hard about what you are passionate about and research ways your accomplish it. Resist the tendency to allow others, inner fears or circumstances dictate to you what you want to accomplish in life. You can always find reasons not to do something you want to try. No matter how legitimate they may seem, be aware of not letting the same old negative self talk dictate who you are. It is far better to try something new and fall short, than regretting never trying at all.
Don’t take your life for granted. Accept and embrace the idea that you are worth more than you may think you are. None of us are perfect, but our life is an evolving process that only ends at the end of life. This means you are capable of great things. regardless of your age. Therefore, daily ask yourself “What strengths do I have and may need to develop further?” and “What weaknesses do I think I need to work on?”
Reflect daily on who you are meant to be in life regardless of your inhibiting fears. Inner fears can hold you back. However, making a concerted effort to focus on your strengths gives you the needed traction to begin making a positive difference within yourself. View one step forward, two steps back as moving you in the right direction of finally being the master of your own destiny.
Recognize and be open to positive outside influences all around you. There are many genuinely positive and affirming people in your world. Seek them out and make an effort to spend time with them. They could be friends, colleagues or acquaintances. They can also be someone you read about or even a professional you choose to seek out. This does not mean you can totally avoid negative influencing people. Sometime that just can not be avoided. You you may not be able to avoid their negativity but you can distant yourself when the talk becomes toxic.
Finding your true self does not mean becoming self absorbed to the exclusion of others. Taking care of oneself makes it more possible to appropriately care for others in life. For George Bernard Shaw, life needs to have purpose and meaning beyond oneself. He knew this could not happen without a clear sense of self. He shares this belief in the following quote.