Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Getting to know yourself and being aware of who you want to be is crucial for your well-being. However, connecting with your true selves and exploring your needs may require digging into a difficult past. For some, it's easier to let things happen to them rather than go through the pain of facing past challenges. Unfortunately, not taking on the responsibility of being in charge of your life often results in increasing dissatisfaction. If you are trapped in a life that seems not to belong to you, there are some vital questions to ask yourself, "Who am I?" "What would make me happy?" "Who would I like to be?"
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Identifying your needs and priorities enables you to become aware of who you are, what is essential for you and what you can offer to others.
This journey involves breaking down and building up a different image of yourself, working on your potential, being open to rewriting your past experience and allowing yourself to become vulnerable. All this may sound challenging, but this journey will enable you to reconnect to your true essence.
As a child, you had to adapt to your environment and others needs. At times, there may have been situations when you felt ashamed about wishes or thoughts you were experiencing. You may have felt guilt when scolded for behaviours that did not meet others expectations. You had to suppress and hide sides of yourself, allowing to surface only what you learned to be perceived as acceptable. All this led to the current feeling of being trapped and dissatisfied with your life. While you try to make everyone happy, you keep sinking within your own unhappiness. It is time to take a break, reflect on the situation, seek out which of your needs you are not considering, and allow them to surface. The task is challenging, but if you commit to it, it is doable.
“What you fear is inside yourself...
The power to do great or terrible things.”
Liam Neeson, Batman Begins
The following four steps will help you get closer to your authentic self.
1. Understanding your past
Exploring where you are coming from helps create a narrative of how you became who you are and understand your journey. However, it takes some courage to face the challenges you had to overcome and have buried a long time ago. To cope better with difficult situations, the tendency to normalise or ignore traumatic experiences and accept them without taking the time to acknowledge the pain they caused. Impulsive reactions in the present are often responses to those experiences. To understand those reactions, we need to go back and dig where these showed up initially. There is no blame to take or assign; it is simply about acknowledging past events' impact and letting unhelpful coping methods go.
2. Separating from current beliefs
To find yourself, you must distinguish between the person you became to conform to your environment from the one you want to be. To do this, you have to challenge beliefs and behaviours learned in your past that are no longer aligned with your current self. This is not an easy journey, and you might need professional help with this, as this involves:
Break unhelpful thought processes, such as critical inner voices, judgements toward yourself and others, blaming yourself or others for what is happening.
Notice and challenge any unwanted behaviours you previously learned to protect yourself from others and are not helpful anymore.
Once you become aware of the defence mechanisms set in place to adapt to past painful events, you can learn how to let them go, as you do not need them in the present.
“Some steps need to be taken alone.
It’s the only way to really figure out where you need to be.”
3. Finding your purpose
To find yourself, you must look for what makes your life meaningful. The challenge here is that if you lived your life according to others expectations, you grew farther from your authentic self.
To change this situation, you need to pause and reflect. You can begin by exploring your values, what truly matters to you and start doing what you feel could make your life meaningful. For example, being involved with something that gives a purpose, rather than just pleasure, appears to make people happier. Extending goals beyond yourself and your happiness are inevitably related to finding meaning.
4. Focusing on what you want
When focusing on the negative, such as what you don't want in your life anymore, you quickly fall into a self-victimisation thinking pattern. Instead, it would be more productive orienting your thoughts toward positive goals, plans and solutions. Being aware of what you want is fundamental to finding yourself. Recognising what you sincerely wish for helps you realise who you are and what's important to you. This may sound simple, but standing up for yourself involves a high degree of courage and putting yourself in a vulnerable position. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone, which is daunting for the most. In addition, there is the awareness that you could fail several times before succeeding.
“At the center of your being you have the answer;
you know who you are and you know what you want.”
Once you welcome who you truly are and what you want, you will feel compelled to take power over your life. You no longer engage in unhelpful thinking and use your energy proactively. You accept imperfections as part of your being and show self-compassion, but also compassion to others. You allow challenging moments to exist as part of life. You now can take care of yourself, and remind yourself that challenging situations are never stagnant; they come and go. You are doing the best you can, and that's ok.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.