We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” — May Sarton
We as humans are curious creatures. We explore, invent, discover, and compose. But when it comes to knowing ourselves we are unfortunately lagging.
There are different expressions you might have come across in your readings about self-growth. Some call it the “fear of success”, while others term it as the “fear of failure”. However, I would like to name it the “Fear of Exploring Yourself”.
Now I am using the phrase “Exploring Yourself’ as opposed to “Knowing Yourself”. This is for the reason being that different experiences in your life would require a different version of you and one can’t really ‘know themselves’ unless they have undergone all the encounters and life incidences that shape their existence. Exploring oneself would then be a pre-requisite to know your true self.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” — Marianne Williamson
Deep down inside of us, we all are aware of our light its hidden glory. But its gleam is so bright that we are terrified to embrace it. Instead, we prefer to stand in the distance contemplating, procrastinating, making up excuses, and taking solace in the fact that our holy grail is inside of us, within reach, yet unreachable.
We are too scared to dive into that deep ocean, too anxious to unravel and unearth its boundless depths. So we cling to predictability. Certainty and the delusion of control is the only thing that keeps us sane. It is in our very nature to hold on to what is familiar as a way of exercising control over the capriciousness of life. By conforming to others, getting a degree you are not passionate about, getting married, sticking to the job whose satisfaction is worth the paycheque credited every month, we end up shielding ourselves from our own magnificence.
Procrastination, perfectionism, and not taking risks are the expressions fabricated by someone who is trying to rationalize their avoidance approach for the goals that overwhelm them or burns them with such passion that they are afraid to lose sight of the shores. Yet these burnings are our inner calling that has receded back into the depth of our oceans waiting to be discovered.
Logotherapy states that every human contains a will to find meaning and purpose in their life. And those who are aware of this ‘why’ can endure almost any life stressors. The purpose of the existence of human life is not only different for each being, so is the way you stumble upon it. That being said, the sole way to find your motive in life is to explore your true self.
How can you start the journey to explore your true self
· Wake up early in the morning
Now, this is not a rule for everyone to be up and about at the break of dawn as we all have different work and sleep schedules. Yet I would suggest you take a morning walk for at least 15 minutes. It will energize, refresh, and regenerate your mental faculties.
· Take up things that you wanted to do as a child
A little kid never runs out of ideas to have fun. They always have a go-to answer whenever asked about what they want to be when they grow up. Curiosity without anticipation is the nature of a child. Now I am not saying waltz into your office and quit your job or drop out of school first thing in the morning. But you can certainly set aside some time to learn a new hobby or revisit an old one.
· Do the things that scare you
Sometimes doing things that push you out of your comfort zone is the only time when you truly feel alive. Taking that dance class at 30 or changing your career path at 40, shouldn’t be such a big deal if that is what your heart desires. You still have all the time in the world. Don’t let your own inhibitions stop you from living the life you dreamt about as a little kid. You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to experience yourself being alive.
Often when an opportunity scares you, it is a sign that something inside you is opposing that change. Either you are scared to fail or just overwhelmed by the sheer anticipated profit of the event; nonetheless, such intrapsychic conflicts are an indication of a hidden opportunity to explore your true self.
· Make peace with your past
Accept the past as it was. Don’t be a victim of hindsight bias. Realize that you are not the same person as you were back then. Remember the lessons it taught you. Forgive yourself and others for not knowing better. Move on. Period. Don’t let one wrong take away the joy of all that is right in the world.
· 5-minute solitude
Most of the daily functions happen via technology. Be it shopping for groceries or corresponding with a colleague. We live in a digital age. But do not end up missing out on the world around you; the calm after the rain, the smell of the flowers, chirping of the birds early in the morning, and simply being present in the moment. Instead of waking up to the notifications of social media or your work emails, sneak some quiet moments just for yourself. Start your day with some deep breaths, sit quietly by yourself, contemplate life, and ask the bigger questions. Take the weekend off from the technology and spend time with friends, family, and yourself. Engage in solitary hobbies like reading books, hiking, or playing a musical instrument.
· Have a good support system
Having a mentor and a good social support system can act as a blessing. Along with constructive criticism, these people save you from falling when life hits you hard. They are the guiding stars in your life. Never underestimate their importance in your life. Mutual respect and honesty are the pillars of such connections.
· Filter your social circle
This is a constant agenda I have been pursuing for the past couple of months and I must say I am not disappointed. Limiting your social interactions can help you go a long way in spending time undertaking activities that are worth your time and energy. For this reason, it is recommended that you do not engage in gossip, stop spending time with people who do not challenge you intellectually and are not good for your emotional or spiritual health. Spend time with people who are more successful than you. The quality of your social circle directly influences the quality of your personal life. When it comes to forming close bonds, it’s always quality over quantity.
· Maintain a Journal
A great deal of literature postulates the benefits of journaling. I would say you don’t have to be a good writer to start writing a journal. Scribbling your thoughts, feelings, happenings of the day, or plan for the future should suffice. It acts as an effective catharsis and I have personally benefitted from its introspective effects. I feel like writing about my distracting thoughts, daily affirmations and goals ensure me its speedy manifestation.
The process of making changes to your life can certainly be uncomfortable and unconsciously resisting, but once you find the light at the end of the tunnel, the journey through the dark would seem worth it after all.
“It is the privilege of a lifetime to become who we truly are.” — Carl Jung
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