Early in life there was a time when you exposed your authentic self and were scolded, berated, and belittled for any number of reasons. You were told “don’t do that” and “you’re bad,” all for being who we really are; a person expressing your feelings, emotions, and desires. This reprimanding leads us to respond with shame and guilt about who we are as a person. We blame ourselves for others emotional distress, and we lose touch with our true self. We become unable to express ourselves and experience emotions because we learned to believe it was wrong. We now only feel comfortable projecting a false imagine that we hope will be accepted and respected by others. I have been really focused on enhancing positive emotions in my own and other peoples’ lives, assuming this would be the remedy to help people find greater life-satisfaction. I do feel this is immensely important and having more positive emotions is an empirically proven route to greater well-being and life-satisfaction, though at the same time we must also deal with core issues of our self-identity if we are ever to feel heartfelt positivity. If you feel out of touch with the person you are meant to be, and don’t believe you’re following the right path, this post is for you. Here is how the process unfolds to connect with your authentic self.
If you’re out of touch with your authentic self, realizing this incongruence is the first step. The false self is who we project to the world in an attempt to protect us from any sort of emotional pain. If you notice that you shut down from fear of rejection and failure there is healing that needs to take place. In this stage we view ourselves as flawed and defective because we aren’t perfect. Learning to accept our imperfections and knowing we can’t please everyone is a major part of coming to grips with this incongruence. Be aware of your behavior in this stage, when the self is divided addictions and compulsive behavior will be prominent. We will do anything to remove the pain of not being good enough, and attempt to fill this void with work, alcohol, sex, and other drugs. Of course, these only exacerbate the problem and lead to more guilt and shame. We need to look inside ourselves for the answer.
Eventually we must face our demons and confront our limitations in order to get in touch with our authentic self. We need to gain awareness into the source of our split identity and come to grips with how this impacts our behavior and beliefs. Getting in touch with our “shadow” and uncovering the external idealizations we connect with is essential to ever be truly whole. The roles and responsibilities we hold in life are not our true being, particularly if you have no intrinsic motivation and personal connection to what you do for a living. This is just a role that was followed in order to mask pain and feel better about shame and guilt from the past. We may say to ourselves, “If I become a doctor or lawyer or (insert any profession), I will be worthy.” “If I have money I will be okay.” “As long as I have this relationship things will be fine.” Coming to grips with this does not mean we have chosen the wrong path and must change course, but it offers an opportunity to explore what we assume will make us whole and happy. If your soul is damaged, external success and relationships will not heal this wound. It must come from within.
This can be very difficult for many people. On the surface they smile and tell themselves everything’s okay, but underneath they are teeming with past regrets and unresolved anger and shame. We must learn to deal with these troubling sources while we continue to reorganize our life for greater fulfillment and happiness. I am a major proponent of having more positive emotions in life, though learning to get in touch with our authentic self requires that we experience and accept a full range of emotions, including anger, fear, and sadness. I have spent a great deal of time trying to neutralize these emotions only to feel more agitation and frustration from their inevitable return. They are natural and we must learn to accept them. This is the same for our limitations and weaknesses. We are not fully human without these feelings and imperfections, and until we accept our human nature healing is only superficial. No one is perfect, and being able to embrace our imperfections means,
- Not having to always please others
- Be willing to make mistakes and take responsibility
- Accepting those things that weren’t our fault
- Knowing we are not responsible for how others feel
- Being able to say “no” and be assertive
We can love ourselves unconditionally by realizing that despite our behavior which is not going to be perfect, we are still worthy of love and respect. Once we connect with this source of love our behavior often changes and healing can take place more naturally.
Self-worth and self-trust
From self-acceptance comes self-esteem and self-confidence. We can begin to believe that we are worthy of good things and that we are capable of getting what we desire in life. This is about coming to the realization that we are a “10” underneath our layers of addiction, anger, and isolation. We have to get in touch with this authentic self, the one who is okay with feeling all range of emotions and who can choose to respond to these emotions in a healthy way. The who is willing to try and fail, and risk being vulnerable in order to love. Having self-worth and self-trust will lead us to stretch ourselves to do more and try more and start to believe in the vast potential we hold. We will no longer simply live life to avoid shame and guilt, but will live life from courage, spirituality, and love. Use the pain you have experienced in life as a way of gaining self-understanding and transcending closer to your spiritual nature. We are not our life roles or profession, nor are we what others tell us we are. We are plain and simple one with the source of life. Photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto