One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go. — Sheila Murray Bethel
If you had to introduce yourself to a crowd what would you say? I forgot to mention, they don’t want to know anything about your job. They don’t want to know what degrees you have or what awards you have won. They only want to know about your core – what you think and feel, what you believe in. What are you passionate about? What are your hopes and dreams? What is your life’s purpose? What do you like about yourself? What makes you tick?
Could you answer any of those questions? Would it be hard for you? So often in our young life people around us try to shape us into their own mold, suggesting what we should BE and how we should THINK. Our culture does a bang-up job influencing our thoughts and feelings too. Every single commercial we have ever watched has had an agenda – that agenda was to impact the way we think and then what we choose. If we enter into the adult world without some sense of who we are, then we are likely to be bent and twisted into something very different than our true selves.
I think most adults assume that they know themselves but when pushed to answer simple questions, they often come up empty. The truth is you can hide out in this world for a long time not knowing who you are. The machine we live in likes “robots” and resists free-thinkers. As long as you swim along with everybody else and keep with the crowd you will likely remain unnoticed. This way feels safe but does not produce happiness or fulfillment. To live a satisfying life we have to know who we are and what matters to us. This is the only way we can rightly direct our lives.
It seems that so many people today find themselves on the merry-go-round that we CALL “Life” which has so little if anything to do with real LIFE. You know the one I mean – “I have to work to pay the bills but I hate what I do and I don’t feel like I have a life, so I spend money I don’t have to make me feel better and then I have to work more.” It is a vicious cycle that will never satisfy the heart. But what if you did what you loved and loved what you did – then life would bring you joy and satisfaction.
What about the friends you have and the relationships you foster. Are they ones that feed your heart and inspire your creativity and passion or are they obligations, co-dependent attachments, or toxic commitments? We have to know our own hearts so we can choose wisely how we spend our time and with whom. Are you living your life or someone else’s? Your life should feel like it fits and you are proud of it.
So how do you learn who you are if you are stuck in a culture that constantly tries to tell you how to think and who you are? You are going to have to unplug from the system long enough to think for yourself. Are you willing to do that? Think? It is a bit painful if you are not used to it but it is well worth the effort. You are going to have to ask yourself some tough questions and not be afraid of the answers. You are going to have to learn to listen to your BELLY NOT YOUR HEAD! Your head is the filter for all the commercials, opinions, impressions, guilt trips, sermons, and self-talk you have ever heard. It is full of information but it cannot generate real truth about you. Real truth comes from your gut. It is the knowing that you have inside. It is the compass, the guide, the intuition that is connected to your soul. It knows the truth.
Here are a few practical suggestions for getting to know yourself:
1. Practice listening to your gut. Ask yourself honest questions and see what your core says – not your brain. Here are a few test questions. Are you afraid? Are you happy? Do you respect yourself? Listen to what your gut says to you about these things – how do you feel when you ask? Don’t reason with yourself – feel. Get out of your head and what you “know” and listen from your core.
2. Pay attention to when you smile, laugh, feel sad. What is it that provokes you to feel? Pay attention and get to know these things. They will tell you a lot about yourself. If you avoid feeling – that is important to know too.
3. What scares you and what makes you mad? You have to know what frightens you and why. Do you want to keep that fear or get rid of it? These are important things to know for your future. What makes you angry? Look deeper – what is the root? Know yourself when it comes to these things and you will have a much better handle on who you are.
4. What are you passionate about? What is it that draws your attention? What stirs you or keeps you awake? What is it that makes you want to quit your day job? Learning what you are passionate about is like finding the keys to the car. It is a core piece of knowing yourself better.
5. Make a list of things you Know to be true about you and add to it over time. Ask yourself probing questions like:
What is the TRUEST thing you can say about yourself?
What is your purpose in life?
How do you make other people feel about themselves?
Are you hiding?
Are you avoiding?
Do you want to be seen or be invisible?
Do you believe you have worth?
Can you set boundaries to protect yourself?
Knowing yourself takes courage. It also takes focus and intention. We all know the adage “to thine own self be true” but how can we be true to ourselves if we do not know what it is that matters to us. You are uniquely designed for a purpose. You are meant for a life of fulfillment. Invest in knowing yourself and I think you will be surprised by what you find. You are MORE than you think you are. Be a good friend to yourself and get to know you.
Do you know who you are? Let Goodness help you find out.