We all know that life is a journey and that we are ever evolving towards our true self.
Sounds like a total load of crap? Well, you’re not the only one who thinks so for sure.
But knowing thyself has tons of benefits for the confused lower mortals that we are. Here’s how you can fix chronic identity crisis and live a fuller life by finding your true self.
Hitting reset: True self vs. false self
“It’s important to be yourself. We’re all told that, and it’s true—we know the damage done by being false to ourselves and to others,” writes Deepak Chopra in an article.
Chopra suggests that the key to finding our true self is by understanding how it differs from our everyday self.
According to Chopra, the true self is more at ease with the choices he/she makes, is stable, and is motivated by truth; our everyday self is more concerned with appearances, short-term gratifications.
The problems in our existence, careers and relationship with others are rooted in this lack of understanding of our true self. People often priorities the superficial things first, before their real needs.
That little voice
We all have that little voice in our head that seems to disagree with us. It doesn’t make a sound though when you’re doing things that you are comfortable at.
When you do something or respond to what has been said to you, do you feel resentful? If so, you are not being true to yourself.
This is what self-concordance theory in Psychology is about. Psychologist Bella DePaulo talks about it in an article on Psychology Today on how we can realize your true self.
The self-concordance theory basically states that you have to pursue goals that are aligned with what you think is good for you.
If you “pursue goals that do not reflect the real you, the things you care about or are good at,” De Paulo wrote, “even if we achieve those goals, we are not going to feel happy or fulfilled.”
The theory also posits that the people you surround yourself with is important in identifying yourself. Simply put, if you’re hanging out with the wrong people, the harder it will be for you to become your true self.
This also applies at work. If your boss is appreciative of what you do, is supportive and is open to your ideas, you tend to feel happier.
Are you a bad person? Your response is probably no, and that is not a wrong answer.
Now think of all the times you did something really crass to another person, something that you’re really ashamed of. Something that “didn’t happen.”
Something that’s uncharacteristic of you, yet you can’t fathom why you did it anyway.
You feel a lot of remorse and begin to question your principles.You think you’re a sham and not a good person.
Jack E. Othon, a HighExistence.com columnist, breaks down this phenomenon in an article. Othon writes:
“Though the reason for your reaction may have been obvious (perhaps even “justified”), the lack of control you had over yourself betrays the existence of a different person lurking beneath your carefully constructed idea of who you are.”
“If this person is coming into focus for you, congratulations—you’ve just met your shadow self.”
What is the shadow self? The shadow self is a concept in Jungian psychology that refers to that part of ourselves that we reject. It is also a quality that we’re ignorant of.
We reject the shadow self because it doesn’t fit our perception of who we are, the self that you and others know. It carries all the negative qualities that you’ve put a tamp on. Jung refers to it as “our dark side.”
“Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote in his book Psychology and Religion. “The less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
Jung stated that there are positives buried underneath this shadow that we are not aware of. Because these are things that are not “part of our consciousness” and we do not know exist.
One of the negative consequences of repressing this shadow, is psychological projection. This is when we project our negative traits onto others as perceived shortcomings.
Like other proponents of acknowledging this dark self, Othon believes that in order to mend society, each and every one of us should work on accepting our shadow self.
“The collective shadow houses society’s basest impulses: those of greed, hatred, and violence. If one person acting on these impulses can do a lot of harm to others, what happens when we act on them as a collective?” she wrote.
How to come to terms with your shadow self
San Francisco-based psychologist Dr. Judith Rich wrote about six strategies on how to integrate your dark self into your personality. We’ve handpicked two that we’d like to share with you:
The first is that you should “reframe” your concept of your shadow self. Instead of thinking of your shadow self as your enemy, think of it as a friend you can learn from, a teacher, if you will, according to Rich.
The second is by staring your shadow self right in the face. The shadow self could really disrupt your life, but not if you call it’s bluff.
Rich told the story of Milarepa, a Tibetan saint who came home one night to find his home terrorized by fire-breathing dragons. The harder he fought back, the more he failed to get rid of them.
Things changed when he finally invited the dragons. They disappeared in an instant. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them!
Good luck on finding your true self!
What strategies have worked for you? How do you plan to live a more authentic life? Let us know by commenting below.