If you don't know who you truly are, can you fully trust yourself?
It is hard for us to know the REAL us when most of our thoughts, time and energy is spent navigating our way through our 'outer' world.
This is the world made up of what Carl Jung coined as the "Collective Unconscious".
In a brief, "I-am-not-a-psychology-major" explanation: the Collective Unconscious is all the things we accept, believe and live in.
It is (in a nutshell): The totality of social beliefs, concepts, imagery, perceptions, constructs, symbols, norms and expectations that are kind of second nature to us.
We don't necessarily realize it...these things exist, for the most part, unconsciously.
Most of our focus as we live day to day is on how and where to fit in and belong.
It is an innate need for survival, mentally and physically (especially as a child of course).
In adulthood, we feel the need to be accepted because we feel we will not survive alone.
And that is totally fair, right?! I mean, yeah - no one wants to be an outcast, voted off the island.
When we imagine someone who questions or challenges the parameters of the Collective Unconscious we tend to picture a rebel or hippy - someone who ultimately chooses to live 'outside' the social norm.
We think: odd or weird or radical or irrational.
Sometimes we are even scared of this type of person, and definitely don't want to become them.
So the idea of YOU challenging your 'outer' world is not exactly appealing.
Yet, there is an 'inner' world, too. That place inside you that holds all your truths.
We live in an 'outer world' but we possess an 'inner world'.
This means we have an 'outer self' and an 'inner self'.
Are these the same for you?
Do your actions in the outer world align with who you truly are in your inner world?
Does your inner self match your outer self?
Do you see a difference between how you are outwardly and how you really feel inwardly?
What I mean is this:
How many times have you not shared your opinion or view in order to keep the status quo?
How many times have you "bitten your tongue" so that you avoid any conflict?
How many times have you thought: "Fuck it, not saying something is better than the shit that saying something would create"?
How many times do you stay quiet and wait for that elephant to walk out of the room (which, of course, it never does)
How much have you swept under the carpet in order to "keep the peace"? How many times have you felt insecure about expressing your thoughts for fear of ridicule or judgement?
How many times do you agree to do something when you just don't want to?
And how many of you are thinking that not to do so is selfish and wrong?
That life is about sacrifice and compromise. This is just how you are supposed to be.
What if you were to release yourself of the pressure and need to make sure you "fit in" to a family, community, friendship, society, workplace, church, country, political party....what would be left?
Your inner self.
Would it be the same as your outer self?
Would anything change once you let go of the 'outer' self personas?
How differently would you act, react, express yourself?
How different would your 'outer' world look?
What relationships or life circumstances would change?
Which would dissolve completely?
Would you find more value in everything that you do, say and feel if it all came from your TRUTH? The inner you?
Could you do it?
I don't mean could you be the radical rebel that we picture when we think of someone who is being true to themselves.
BEING TRUE TO THEMSELVES. Why do we see that as so radical?! Why does our brain go to the rebel or the hippy or the recluse?!
Expressing how you really feel about a person or situation and then living in that truth...why does that seem to be, or feel so turbulent?
Is that really so radical? So reckless? So nonconformist?
No, of course not!
But that part of your brain that doesn't want to rock the boat will keep trying to convince you otherwise.
What are we so afraid of?
Change. We are afraid of change. Change means turbulence.
But will it really be so horrible?
Is being honest with yourself worth it? Your world will not come crumbling down.
Can you see yourself standing solid in your truth and trust yourself?
If so, how does it feel?
You won't become the hippy rebel that lives in a van down by the river.
You won't become the outcast, shunned and ridiculed everywhere you go.
You won't be quitting your job yelling "stick it to the man" as you run out of the building.
(I mean, go for it if you need to!)
You will still stop at a red light.
You won't lose control, I promise.
Even though it feels like you might because you are asking yourself to question this safety net that helped you feel safe and secure as a kid.
You are asking yourself to listen to and trust your true self.
As a matter of fact, you will GAIN control.
As you get to know and trust yourself more, you will feel more in control of your life. You will be more able to set boundaries. Say no when you need to and say yes only when you want to.
And when the odd time comes where you will make a decision based on the feelings of another person more than your own, you won't feel bitter or resentful about it because you are doing it from a space based in self knowledge and self trust, not just to fit in or not wanting to rock the boat out of fear.
In an ironic twist (thanks,'Life') most of the not-so-true-to-you behaviours (ie: not speaking up in order to keep the peace or doing something you don't want to so you don't hurt someone's feelings) are based in kindness.
It's just a bit misplaced that's all.
You forgot that being true to you is far kinder and full of grace than not being true to you. The latter slowly chips away at your self-trust and self-worth, and it shows up.
You end up feeling resentful and bitter: "Why am I always the one who has to compromise?"
Self-doubt creeps in: "I don't even know if this is how I feel anymore".
"I better ask so-and-so what they think about this."
Half the time, your good intentions backfire miserably and only add confusion and misunderstandings. You start to wonder what to believe and so do the people around you.
You feel unsure and inadequate in your own life.
There is no trust, because you don't know who you really are.
And how can you trust someone that you don't know?
Ultimately, exploring and discovering the inner you will bring a deep respect and trust in YOU.
So, when challenges appear (they always will), you will be able to stand stronger in your conviction.
You will stand calmer with the trust in yourself.
You will know that whatever action you take, whatever words you speak, whatever feelings you feel - they are all based in TRUTH. You will know YOU.
Your truth. The only truth that matters.
It is the only truth that matters because it comes from you: a kind, compassionate, loving space! You won't lose all the wonderfulness that is you. In fact, it will show up more.
My suggestion is to start focusing more on the inner world and less on the outer world.
No need to do anything other than explore!
Do your actions and words in the outer world line up with who you are inside?
If not, do you want to try changing that? Ultimately, it is totally up to you (of course!)
For many of us, just the mention of exploring our inner self brings a sense of panic.
And that's okay! It's a normal reaction to feel insecure when it comes to spending time thinking about who we are.
But maybe wonder why that is for a bit.
Be okay with the panic, but gently ask: why is it there panic?
If you find it uncomfortable in anyway, start here:
List the things you like or respect about yourself.
If you find making that list uncomfortable or not even feasible, start by listing the things you admire in a person: honesty, self-confidence, sense of humour, compassion, reliability, hard-working, expressiveness, kindness, animal lover, appreciative, good parent, good listener....whatever traits come to mind for you.
Then, allow yourself to explore if maybe you possess some of these traits (I bet you do!)
If you still don't see admirable traits in yourself, be sure to tell yourself that you CAN be those things.
Look at the list every day and say: I can't wait to be kind/funny/reliable/a good listener (whatever is on your list). Eventually, you will start to see these things in you.
And/or, If you have someone who cares about you, ask them what they like in you, what they see in you. DO IT! Even if it feels awkward!
Take what they say about you as true and valuable and write it down.
Every day, look at that list and say: This person sees this in me so it is my truth. Eventually, you will start to see these things in you.
This will open you up a little more to self-exploration.
Stay positive about the traits, no need to explore the "negatives" at this time.
The idea here is to open the door to the inner you.
Allowing it to shine a little bit and not to be afraid of that shine.
Baby steps are needed here, and being gentle with yourself is incredibly important.
Keep reminding yourself that you are a work in progress and that change is challenging.
Keep reminding yourself that you are brave and capable, but it's okay if you aren't ready or willing to change all the time. We all need a day off sometimes!
Keep reminding yourself of the 'why': a greater feeling of self-trust, self-control, self-love, self-respect, more meaningful, honest relationships, and a deeper sense of fulfillment. If the why is strong enough, you will keep going with the work of self-discovery.
Keep reminding yourself that you are still going to stop at that red light - you aren't going to lose your shit and become a lawless person!
The hope is to open the door a little wider to the inner you. How wide is in your hands.
Be the observer of who you are in this life. Get to know yourself by witnessing who you are.
You are kind, you are compassionate, you are a whole whack of goodness!
The more you learn about you, the more you will know about you. The more you know about you, the more you will trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the more you will get out of life. You will be experiencing life as someone you believe in and admire. That feels so good! Right? Right!