I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of marketing material these days about workshops and classes that promise that I will discover “the real me”. I usually smile because I have no idea what that means, how can one not know who “the real me” is? Sometimes this means identifying what thoughts and behaviors we are programmed to believe from an early age that no longer work for us. A great example of that is I come from a long line of lawyers and judges. It was simply assumed from birth that I was to become a lawyer and carry on the family tradition. What I really wanted to do from the time I was in high school was to be an outdoor counselor for organizations like Outward Bound. My parents would not hear of that and threatened “bad things” if I did not become a lawyer.
So I became a lawyer to please my parents. I practiced law for nearly 27 and I was very good at it. However, I had the nagging feeling that I was destined for something else and practicing law seemed like a role I was playing for other people. Finally, in 2004 I asked myself, “whose life is this anyway?” and quit to follow a spiritual path. It was on this path that I discovered who I truly am. So to “find the real you” we need to understand the difference between the person you have become due to social conditioning and the person you could be if left to your own devices.
If you have experienced any of the following, you may need to ask yourself “am I doing what other people want me to do or what I want to do? [If you’ve ever heard the Talking Heads song “How Did I Get Here” you how exactly what I mean. The link is below, don’t be afraid to sing-a-long, it will open up this inquiry even further for you.]
· Many people, including myself, have experienced periods of insecurity and low self worth. In order to attempt to avoid these feelings, we seek to make other people happy by sacrificing ourselves to please them.
· When we were very young, we were praised by our parents or authority figures and then disciplined. When we were disciplined, we felt that we were defective. Thus, we subconsciously felt inferior to the authority figures because they were “better”.
· We felt like there was something wrong with us because we saw other kids having fun and we weren’t. We assumed this was because they were better than us. Then we felt inferior or just lost because we grew up believing that “they are okay, I am not okay”.
· We sought out authority figures to disempower ourselves because it felt ‘safe’. These can be employers, teachers, preachers, healers, counselors, spouses or siblings. We subconsciously felt like we need these people because we believe we are losers. So we seek out people that we think will make us okay, when, in fact, we are okay. This includes workshop teachers and gurus.
· We sacrificed what we wanted to be in order to be what “they” wanted us to be. As a result, we feel like imposters and deceivers because we are not expressing who we truly are.
In order to “find” yourself, there are some things you can do to heal this belief that we have to be who other people want us to be.
1. Notice when you are in the position of “I’m not OK, you’re OK”. Once you are aware of something, you can change it. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of. Just notice when you feel uncomfortable and are people pleasing or trying to not make mistakes. Notice when you feel inferior to others. Awareness is the first step in personal change. Ultimately, we have to understand that if we compare ourselves to others, we can’t win. We will always feel like losers.
2. Don’t be afraid to be who you want to be. You are the only person that has the power to decide what you do, what you think, and what you believe. Understand that we all have this struggle, the struggle to be ourselves. One of the most empowering decisions you can make for yourself is to do what you think is best for you and stop trying to please everyone else.
3. Focus on your own path. What anyone else is doing or thinking about you is not your concern. What anyone else is doing is also not your concern. Simply observe, don’t comment or judge. When we are thinking about other people that puts the focus on them. Be grateful for being the most unique person on the planet, you! There is no one else like you. When you can take control of your life and stop worrying about what other people think of you, then you can focus on you and become what you want. Use the benefit of creating gratitude, appreciation and kindness towards yourself as you observe how far you have come, the obstacles you have overcome and the good stuff you have done.
4. Get rid of the story. We all have stories and rationalizations of why we are the way we are. We feel and believe based on what happened in the past and we use that to get sympathy or excuse our behavior. Stop it! The story is not you. When we stop thinking about the past, we can assess what we have in the present moment and go from there. You may have a lot of stops and starts along the way, after all it’s a practice that most of us have done our whole lives. Don’t give up, it will be worth the heavy weight you get to unload, the burden of a disappointing story about your past that is dumped.
5. Stop judging yourself and other people. If you are critical of others, you are critical of yourself. That is not helpful and distracts you from being who you want to be. The way you behave and think towards others affects on how you behave to and think about yourself. Show kindness to others when you feel inferior to them, either externally or just think kind thoughts internally. Be kinder to other people and help them and you tend to be kinder and more helpful to yourself. So focus your mind on helping people and being kind. Focus on the positive things in yourself and in the people around you and appreciate what is positive in yourself and others. If you catch yourself thinking something critical or judgmental about yourself OR another, immediately follow it up with a positive thought about yourself or that person.
6. Really put yourself compassionately in their shoes and understand what they are experiencing. When we come at a relationship as an equal, we are empowered and authentic. Seek to understand, not judge. When you find yourself frustrated with others, or judging them, try to understand them. When I quit practicing law, I had to go into my senior partner’s office (my father) and tell him I was quitting. He asked me what I was going to do and I said I didn’t know. He went ballistic, but I understood that he was afraid for me and it wasn’t about me. That helped get me through the unpleasantness of the moment.
7. Detach and see the lesson…every experience we have in life is intended to bring us wisdom and understanding. The ones that create emotional and mental pain and suffering are the experiences that can motivate us to a higher consciousness out of necessity. Whenever I experience suffering, I stop and take 60 deep breaths and then ask myself “what am I supposed to learn?”
8. Learn to be patient. I have always said that God has a terrible way of teaching patience. Basically patience is the ability to be happy until we get what we want. Success is getting what you want while happiness is wanting what we get. If you meditate, meditate on the fact that we always get what we want. The catch is that we always want what will make us more aware, more conscious, more enlightened. This usually involves some amount of discomfort. If you can want what you get, you shorten the lag time of being happy.
9. Be your own biggest cheerleader. If we don’t congratulate ourselves for our successes, no one else will. Instead of making posters or vision boards of what we want to happen in the future, make some of all of our accomplishments of our past. When we focus on our successes, that is the rudder that will steer our ship on the right course.
10. Enjoy the journey. Too often we judge ourselves by what we accomplish. We make goals that may be impossible to attain and then beat ourselves up for not achieving them. In order to be who you want to be, enjoy every moment of every day. No one else gets to be you.
If you apply these principles in your life, you will discover who you truly are. The truth is you are whoever you believe you are. I believe that I am happy, successful, loved and magical. It doesn’t matter if I actually am any of those things, what matters is I believe it. This is what you are going to learn in those expensive seminars and workshops you are thinking about taking. So save yourself a lot of money and start being yourself now.
“How Did I Get Here”