The Authentic Self: Becoming the Real You

PinExt The Authentic Self: Becoming the Real You

reflectionbeach The Authentic Self: Becoming the Real You What were you born to be?

Every one of us comes into this world with certain things about us predefined.  If you have children, then you know what I’m talking about.

It seems we are born with a certain identity already imprinted on our souls.  We are who we are. 

Yes, we can learn and grow and change certain things about ourselves, but in some instances we are seriously swimming upstream when we desire to become something we are not.

Maybe our job isn’t to try to make ourselves into something, but to simply discover or uncover who we were born to be.

The Notion of the Authentic Self

Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it. 
~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

What do you think of the quote above?  Do you think we are here to “find out who we already are and become it” or can we become anything?

This is another interesting philosophical question to ponder especially in the context of living life to the fullest.  If you were born for a certain purpose, then it naturally seems the only way to achieve the best life possible is to discover and live that destiny.

For me, there is a certain “ring of truth” in Steven Pressfield’s words.  It seems that there are those that certainly have done just what he describes.  For example, names like Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa come to mind.

I think these people and many others like them were born for a specific purpose.  Now our purpose might not be as grand as ending apartheid or ministering to India’s poorest, but still I think we were all born with a mission to fulfill.

I also think that our best and happiest life is realized when we stopping fighting against it and go with what we are best at.

Traps that Drag Us Away from Our Authentic Self

It is easy to get way off track in life.  There are a lot of traps out there luring us away from our authentic self.  We get bombarded by these distractions until we start believing one or more of them and then we go off wondering why we are miserable.

Here are a few of the traps that drag us away from our authentic self:

1.  Doing What Others Want Us to Do

Parents, spouses or those with similar influence are often the culprit in this trap.  They have preconceived notions of the life they want for us.  Maybe they want us to live the life they always dreamed of having or maybe they simply believe a certain path will deliver the best results.  Either way, they impose their desires upon us and we fall into the trap of living or at least trying to live someone else’s vision.  This leaves us feeling trapped and unhappy.

2.  Doing What We Should Do

Often we grow up with certain lifestyles being sold to us as the “only way to live”.  These are the things we should do because they are safe, practical and in demand.  For example, maybe you were born to be an artist, but artists often don’t make a lot of money.  So, well-meaning people tell you to pursue your art as a hobby, but get a real career to support your family.  Is this truly living your authentic and best life?  Doing what one should do rarely leads to discovering the real you.

3.  Doing What Is Popular

Following the crowd is not a path to your authentic self.  Of course, there is a lot of pressure to do whatever is popular in the moment.  It is easy to start comparing yourself to others and feeling compulsion to modify your dreams to fit certain fads or fashions.  Don’t do it!  It is best to blaze your own trail.  Resisting this pressure to conform is very difficult.  However, it is essential to avoid a trap that will lead us further from our authentic self.

How to Become the Real You

There are many blocks to becoming the real you.  Overcoming these isn’t easy, but I am convinced that it is essential to living life to the fullest.

If you feel you aren’t living a life that is true to yourself, then I’d offer a couple of suggestions to help you start to uncover who you really are.

First, I’d recommend reading and doing what Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist’s Way.  Your destiny may have nothing at all to do with being a traditional artist, but I still think Cameron’s book can help unlock your inner desires.

Seth Godin defines art as follows, “most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work.”  Given this definition, we are all artists and therefore the advice for overcoming creative blocks in The Artist’s Way is applicable for helping anyone to discover their authentic calling.

My second suggestion is to orchestrate a timeout from your current life.  This could be as simple as a few hours in a local park or it could be as sophisticated as a year-long sabbatical.  You need to go to a place where you can be alone to think and be inspired.

You can spend this time reflecting on what you are doing now and how happy or unhappy it is making you.  You can also ask yourself these questions:

  1. When I was very young, what did I want to be when I grew up?
  2. Does my life resemble these desires in anyway today?
  3. What would it take for me to explore these old dreams again?

We are usually the most authentic when we are children and haven’t been quite so influenced by external factors.  It is generally very helpful for us to revisit these old and often dormant childhood desires.  They may hold the key to what you truly were meant to be in life.

Discover Your Authentic Self and Be the Real You

You might be amazed at how far off track you’ve allowed yourself to stray.  However, true happiness and fulfillment is still within your reach.  You just need to spend a little time rediscovering who you really are.  It is never too late to find the artist inside yourself!

Photo by { pranav }

PinExt The Authentic Self: Becoming the Real You

4 thoughts on “The Authentic Self: Becoming the Real You

  1. Wow, this article rang true with me. Thought the MBA was the be-all and end-all. The corner office and fancy car. Was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Thought long and hard about what made me happiest all the way back to grade school. Recess and PE! Physical activity. Am now a self-employed karate instructor and never been happier. Follow your passion, not what the world thinks you should be. Great post about one of life’s most important lessons.
    .-= SenseiMattKlein´s last blog ..10 More Lessons Learned from the Karate Kid Movie =-.

    • Matt – Awesome story! It is strange how we fall victim to what society thinks we should do. You obviously broke free from all that and seem very happy. Congratulations! I appreciate you sharing so that others can benefit from your experience.

  2. Many Blind Men and One Elephant

    Who hasn’t heard the sage advice…”be yourself”, “show your true colors”, or “find the authentic you”? Wise men and women have always told us to follow our own Path in Life. Frank Sinatra did it “His Way” for instance. Bernie Siegel (“Love, Medicine, and Miracles”) told us to be careful about climbing the ladder of success…..lest we find it leaning against the wrong wall. Jeff Nickles’ post on “finding the real you” clearly puts him amongst these enlightened teachers as well. But we’re here to talk elephants. There’s one right now. Did you notice? No? It’s the GIANT authenticity puzzle. See it now? No? Not to worry. You’re not alone. This puzzle’s a bit like that famous forest you can miss for all its trees. How about I splash some paint on the invisible beast…….in three steps. No#. 1: Millions want to find their “authentic self”. No.#2. Thousands offer methods for doing exactly that. No.#3: Virtually no one finds the “real them” using these methods. Big deal you say? Okay, how about I add this. There’s nothing wrong the methods. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Good advice all the way. Hmmmmm……that’s a bit odd isn’t it? Still not biting? Why don’t you look at it differently then. Imagine an accurate map to Detroit Michigan guiding people everywhere BUT Detroit. People following this map end up in Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles….etc., etc., etc. Anywhere but Detroit. A map like that would probably puzzle you. Right? I hope so. Same sort of weird thing is going on with the “find your authentic self” industry. Why? Well, the short answer is, we’re looking at the world the wrong way. Obviously a sad way too….because it keeps so many people from finding what they’re looking for in life. Ciao Jeff and thank you for your inspiring work. John Duffield
    .-= John Duffield´s last blog ..Being Yourself is Your Purpose on Earth =-.

  3. so i cried. i just cried a lot. the last year has been really hard. the Lord has warned me of so much. goodness! well even though this year feels worse then the others they’re all the same. im still crying, but im not leaving a sad comment, not here. if all i could do was love God and worship him in happy times i would.
    i want to serve but……
    i want to write but…..
    i would love to have a family some day but….
    and there are so many thoughts that have BUT in the middle of them , its rather depressing. so i know one thing for sure and that is, whenever you think of something (a thoughtful idea that Could turn into a dream) and it turns into something sad and scary, make sure you get rid of the second half. anything and everything that comes after that ‘but’ is gunna weigh you down. i promise on Gods holy word and my experience-as a aging teenager :) that you, all of us, find strength when we’re confident.
    think that was obvious well than believe it and Make yourself confident. (duh)
    -from a warrior, God bless everything for you.

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