Your true self – what is that? Who is that? How do we know it? That’s what I look to explore today….
“True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self-elements. There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.” ~~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Us humans are typically social animals who develop as a species partly because we‘ve been able to solve many common problems together. When you work together, in this collective fashion, it often results in a compromise of some kind. We are typically required to apply some sort of tactic in our social lives; we assert our needs and desires whilst also being sensitive to the preferences, motives and needs of others….. and all this further depends upon and is complicated by the social and cultural situations and scenarios we find ourselves in.
All in all, this often results in us struggling to be our true selves. All of us wear numerous hats and adopt a variety of roles in life, and deep down each of us has an authentic self, the person who we feel is truly who we are – at our core. Life just sometimes has a habit of drowning that person out.
“Adam, this is a bit hippy-ish and cosmic for you, isn’t it?
Well, it’s a bit left-field of my typical position on personal development and self-actualisation, but there is scientific research that suggests we would all benefit from understanding our true selves and that it could have a major impact upon our psychological health and well-being. Of course we need to do our best to live in harmony with others. We need to do our best to live our life, take care of our families, tend to professional requirements and so on. Yet there is evidence that suggests we’d all benefit greatly from connecting with our true selves too.
There are studies that indicate, for example, that when people believe they are behaving or taking actions because they value or enjoy them, that person experiences higher levels of well-being. On the flip side of that, when people feel as if their actions and behaviours are driven by external forces (such as money – which I’ll mention again later – or social pressure) their well-being often decreases. Evidence also tends to suggest that people will successfully complete goals that are reflected in their true self. Therefore, it is important when setting goals that you consider if they reflect your true self, as well as setting goals that you’ll follow for other reasons, such as paying your bills or keeping other important people in your life happy and satisfied.
Additionally, being aware of your true self tends to add meaning to life. Research suggests that when people report that they understand who they truly are, while their actions and behaviours match that of their true self, tend to be more hopeful and optimistic about the future than those who do not feel connected with their true self. At the same time, people who feel they are living in sync with how they perceive their true self, also perceive life as more meaningful.
So, it’s important to discover your true self, right? Many people maybe don’t realise how much strength, resource and power resides within us, which is not necessarily our everyday self that gets mixed up with all the day-to-day activities of life, but a deeper self, as I’ve been referring to and which psychologists often refer to as “the true self.”
The true self isn’t a familiar term to many people, although it is interpreted by many as what some religions refer to as your soul, the purest part of yourself, you real essence. I tend to refer to it as being your core. You can test to get a sense of your own true self. How? The true self typically has certain qualities that belong to it the way sweetness belongs to sugar; a flavour if you like. If you can experience these qualities, repeat them, learn to cultivate them, and finally make them a natural part of yourself, the true self has come to life and that can be enriching for all. You find your purpose, you know your values, you understand yourself deeply.
“Be your true self. Because if you’re not, there are consequences to be paid.” ~~ Wendell Pierce
The trick is distinguishing what is your true self and what is not. Are we responding to baggage we have picked up in life, are we behaving in response to what life has thrown at us, or other external influences? If we had a switch that could turn off the everyday self and turn on the true self, matters would be much simpler. But human nature is often divided. There are moments when you feel secure, accepted, peaceful, and certain. At those moments you may well be experiencing the true self. At other moments you experience the opposite, and then you are potentially in the grip of something else, or perhaps what gets referred to often as the ego-self. The trouble is that both sides are convincing. When you feel overwhelmed by stress, crisis, doubts, and insecurity, the true self might as well not exist. You are experiencing a different reality coloured by your feelings and the state of your mind.
At those dark, tough moments, aim to get some outside perspective about what is happening. Dissociate from the current perspective and watch yourself and your life from an objective stance inside your mind. The qualities of the everyday self and the true self are typically described as being very different:
1) The true self is certain and clear about things. The everyday self gets influenced by countless outside influences, leading to confusion.
2) The true self is stable. The everyday self shifts constantly.
3) The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth. The everyday self is driven by the ego, the unending demands of “I, me, mine.” 4) The true self is at peace. The everyday self is easily agitated and disturbed.
5) The true self is love. The everyday self, often lacking the same sort of love, seeks it from outside sources.
Have a look at the typical qualities associated with the true self: self-reliant, evolutionary, loving, creative, knowing, accepting, and peaceful…. Whenever anyone is in crisis, whether the problem is a troubled marriage, difficulties at work or over money, that person will be more likely to make the best decisions if they utilise these qualities.
Sadly, we are often driven by selfishness, panic, uncertainty, impulsiveness, survival instincts, and other qualities associated with the ego-self. That’s partly how society has trained us. Many measure their worth by achievements and possessions. Money and status feed the ego, and society rewards those who play the game of getting and spending with skill and drive.
“The ego is only an illusion, but a very influential one. Letting the ego-illusion become your identity can prevent you from knowing your true self. Ego, the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do, is a backwards way of assessing and living life.” ~~Wayne Dyer
Once you begin to recognise and encourage the qualities of the true self, your life will begin to change. You’ll make better choices. You’ll expand your awareness. You’ll discover and encourage your purpose. You challenge yourself to meet new goals. Here is a great article about discovering your purpose. What Is Your Life Purpose? 5 Ways To Discover It Today.
Those who know me, know that I am not religious, in fact I am atheist. That does not mean I am a spirituality vacuum. Many problems have a spiritual solution, not because every prayer is answered by a higher power but because the true self, once discovered, is a source of creativity, intelligence, and personal growth. External solutions typically do not have such power. The true self is the basis for being deeply optimistic about how life turns out and who you really are, behind the screen of doubt and confusion. The path to it isn’t simply inspiring; it’s the source of solutions that emerge from within.
Today, seeking and creating your own destiny is widely accepted and may even be the norm. This is increasingly true spiritually, where countless people have broken away from established religion to walk their own path. If discovering the meaning of your own life is the right general area of great ideas, what specific idea would be your greatest one?
It would begin, I think, with the words, “I am here to ______.” What remains is to fill in the blank, and yet here is where the challenge lies. Consider the possibilities.
• I am here to be happy.
• to find love.
• to be of service.
• to make the world a better place.
• to be a raving success.
• to gain knowledge and understanding.
• to find my destiny.
• to fulfill my potential.
These choices aren’t completely either/or; they are not necessarily black and white. Some will overlap, and all should lead to being happy. If you are of service to the world but find yourself being miserable, then perhaps your idea wasn’t as great as you thought when you set out. Or perhaps you could interpret it differently – what can you learn from that experience that helps you grow? Here are a couple of great articles to help you in this regard:
a) How To Learn From Failure.
b) How to Bounce Back From Being Knocked Down.
In fact, choosing how to fill in the blank can be tricky, because you can’t foresee the future, you may be stepping into the unknown. Any answer you pick, any path you decide to walk, could lead to a dead end. Unforeseen consequences can follow any major choice in life. So look to learn and grow from all experience, and frame it progressively and as wisely as you are able. You might like to consider weighing up the effects of the decisions you make today with problem solving, have a read of this article to help with that: Apply Problem Solving To Yourself and Solve Your Own Problems.
You might consider finding a life philosophy or a wisdom tradition that represents a vision of life you can follow or one that matches your sense of your true self. Here is a great article to help with this: Creating a Vision For Your life. https://www.adam-eason.com/creating-vision-life/ As I already mentioned, Scientific research suggests that discovering one’s true or authentic self may prove vital to psychological health and well-being. Being your true self may come at a “cost” – in the short-term – but the benefits to you as well as the people around you will certainly more than pay off in the long run.
A while back I wrote the following article; Is The Current Trend For ‘Authenticity’ and Prescribed ’Vulnerability’ Really That Good For Us?
What is important, is that you discover your true self, but then get comfortable being in control of who and how you are, and not being passive. You don’t have to just accept that who you are is set in stone. You can reinvent yourself, choose who you are and connect with your true self deeply and profoundly.
So how do you discover your true self and live in accordance with it?
a) As I mentioned previously, identify and set goals because you value and enjoy them, because they satisfy you. Goals that reflect your true self. You can have other goals, just make sure you have plenty of goals that reflect your true passions.
b) Numerous experts state that finding your true self requires some self-reflection and an ability to be honest and objective with yourself. What values do you have? What characteristics define you? What would you say your strengths and weaknesses are? Do not seek to simply confirm who you declare yourself to be each day currently, seek to identify and accept limitations you may have, foibles and any traits that may be undesirable. Learn to think critically and honestly about yourself, the themes in these articles will help:
1) Critical Thinking: Its Importance and Ways to Improve It.
2) Why You Need Critical thinking Skills.
There is more research and interest growing currently (as you’ll see if you search) whereby the notion of the true self is being explored. That research is certainly helping people to understand what makes life more fulfilling and meaningful. As it turns out, knowing and living in accordance with your true self may be a very important component of psychological well-being.
Have some of themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
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Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book.