This is a question that I always keep in mind since my divorce. My experience was that when I got separated I realized I had changed so much without even seeing it. Little by little as things happened -I enrolled for graduate school, had two beautiful babies, moved far from the city, started teaching and doing research-, I got lost and became someone else. I can’t really put my finger on the exact moment I realized this, but it was clear that I needed to spend some time reconnecting with who I used to be to understand where I wanted to go. So, with the help of my good friends and a lot of determination, I started asking myself: what did I like? How did I use to feel when I felt happy? and more questions like these to find myself again.
The result was an amazing journey! I realized that there were so many things I loved and I had completely abandoned, like taking care of myself, calling my friends and having long conversations, going out for dinner with friends and co-workers, reading, travelling and more. So little by little I got myself back on track with my feelings and thoughts and promised myself to never again become anybody else but my true self.
Has this happened to you? I know, you might not even know how to answer that. That’s how I used to feel. I remember one fall my brother visited us and after spending a week together, he commented that I had changed so much. In my mind I thought, of course I changed, I have two babies now and I live in a different country and many other reasons to justify it. But he was right, and that comment stayed with me and it reappeared after my separation with renewed force. Who had I become? How had I lost myself so much? Who was I anymore?
So, thinking that this is a process that takes place internally and many times we are not even aware that we have become a different person than we once were, I am going to give you a guide that maybe can help you measure how much you have deviated from your own true self. This list is not in any particular order, except for the waking up portion, because if you’re still deep in your slumber you won’t be making any real changes. But after that moment of realization, the rest of the points need to happen in no particular order.
First, you need to wake up! Awareness is key to start any change in ourselves. Like my mentor, Tony Robbins says, there are two things that can wake us up: the first one is having so much pain that we can’t take it anymore, and we realize we need to change; the second one is when something traumatic happens to us and shakes us to our core, like separating in my case. I believe that there’s a third one: being still and going deep inside ourselves to find answers. For this last one to work we have to want to do it and being consistent with whatever method we choose: meditation, support group, prayer, mantras, yoga. Any spiritual practice that you have or would like to pick up will nudge you to take a look inside and evaluate if you’re in the wrong path.
Second, after you realize you need to course correct and commit to develop your potential awesomeness I think being accountable for your choices keeps you in shape. What I mean by this is that you need to tell someone about what is happening to you and share with them the changes you are making to go back to your true self. That way, your friend, partner, sibling, whoever you choose, will be able to cheer you and remind you to keep it up along the way. We are better together, there’s no doubt about it.
The third important aspect is to be honest with yourself. If you hide things from yourself, none of this will take you closer to your true self. Honesty is looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself what you need to hear. From ‘I love, and I have your back’, to ‘that was a massive mistake and you need to own it’ or ‘stop whining and move on’. No matter how hard this sounds, honesty with your inner self is the best way to not repeat the old mistakes. In my case, I constantly catch myself falling back into old comfortable habits and looking the other way. But, not for long. As soon as I realize this is happening, I jump to my feet and declare, ‘No more!’ I’m not this person and I don’t want to be this person, raising your standards will keep you on your toes and that’s where you want to be to grow.
Finally, the fourth, that is connected to the previous one, is be uncomfortable. We all tend to fall back into easy, and comfortable habits. That’s a trap! It means you’re letting yourself slip into your old self that is no longer who you want to be. Feeling uncomfortable with aspects of our life means we are pushing ourselves to grow by facing new challenges. Of course, not everybody feels this way and you don’t have to. Of course, you know when being uncomfortable is too much and it might also be a sign that you’re doing something that is not aligned with your inner self. But when you want to better yourself, some level of uncomfortable action is necessary.
I think this topic can be expanded further and I’ll post another article about it soon. Hoping that this will help you get closer to your true inner self and back to your path if you have lost it.