There are times in our life when we all ask ourselves questions like, “Who am I?” “Am I the Real Me?” “Am I who I was meant to be?” Or, “How did I get here?
Usually we don’t begin to ask those questions until we take a good look at how we are in the moment. That’s the time the question becomes, “Do I like what I see?” It’s hard to ask that question because it is often clouded with worries of how others see us, or how to get more of the things we believe would make us happy. The ‘yeah buts’ or ‘if only’ excuses of life.
Because we are creatures of habit we tend to try to see or change things from the same mindset we always have when the answer is to see them from a totally new or different perspective. The real question then becomes, “how do I gently stop being who I am not?”
How do we stop creating the false fronts we use to please others, or eliminate the need for power and security that in reality keeps us small and contained…feeling less than?
It’s true, we do have to make mistakes to figure out who we aren’t, but the next step is to admit it to ourselves, then the most important part… take an action without giving in to the worry of what others will think or say. We usually have to try different things until the “shoe fits.” It is a lot like painting a picture and not liking it. Our options are to keep painting the picture we don’t really like just because we started it, or begin again. Each time we figure out what our painting isn’t, we are one step closer to finding out what it is. We must take the action for the insight, or “aha!” to follow; and it will.
It isn’t easy to stop being who we learned to be; the things we learned in our earlier life were our training wheels so to speak. The time arrives when those training wheels must come off.
I don’t know what your first action will be, but mine involved coming to a full stop. I had to stop living unconsciously as if I was going to live forever and yank myself out of auto pilot. It involved a lot of honest introspection. Then I broke the rules I learned in childhood. They were right for me for a long time but one day I realized they were no longer my rules.
Over time I realized it was OK to change my mind, that it is necessary to leave many of the old ways behind. Our parents don’t tell us this, most likely because they didn’t know either. It is part of the ‘solo’ journey we all have to take, parents included.
When I turned 40, (a very long time ago I might add) every week or so I would try to figure out something I would no longer agree to do or to be. I had quite a list but one of the first things I accepted is that the word “no” is a complete sentence. It was in my best interest to learn how to say no; to set boundaries and not give in to the need to be all things for all people. Of course it didn’t happen overnight, but eventually it did.
It also included saying no to my old wounds; those that were perceived and those that were real. I learned not to let others ‘push my buttons’ like I had in the past. The most difficult and enlightening one was when I finally understood that when I reacted and followed my old patterns it was because I chose to. An unconscious choice, but a choice nonetheless. I had to learn to choose different things. I realized my personal power is rooted in responding rather than reacting. It is a powerful and potentially life-changing concept.
The bottom line is it is not in some people’s interest for us to find ourselves, but it only matters that it is in ours, and the world’s, for us to proceed.
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde
Lovely, lovely sage advice.