5 Tips to Come Back to Your Authentic Self

Coming home to who you are.

Posted Jun 25, 2020

It’s clear that by the time we’ve lived a few decades, for most of us, a lot will have happened to us—both the changes and challenges that are expected in the course of living, as well as those unexpected ones that are often experienced as obstacles. Those difficult times test us, pushing us to our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual limits. Whether we like what happens to us or not, somehow most of us navigate through these rough spots and hard times. And our life goes on.

But after many life tasks are mastered, the goals reached, and the lessons learned, the basic questions remain: Who are we in all of this? Who are we at our core apart from anybody or anything else? Do we ever have a chance to be that core person in a relationship? Do we ever have a chance to be that person to ourselves? Do we even know who that person is, who we are when everything else is stripped away?

In other words, from the time we’re born, we’re conditioned to be a certain way. First, there’s the influence of our parents, siblings, and extended family. Then, the peer group. Then, our intimate relationships. We become different things to different people when we relate to others. We take on many roles and identities in the course of our lives. Some of these encourage and expand our core sense of self, while others diminish and stifle who we are.

Do we as individuals ever have the chance to just be “me” to and for ourselves without any conditions, obligations, commitments, attachments, and any other way to describe how each of us is bound to others throughout life? Do we ever get a chance to come back to ourselves, if we already have a sense of who we are or, to experience our authentic self for the first time if we’ve never done it before, when we are no longer as dependent upon relationship to define who we are? I’m not suggesting that we need to discard the most significant people in our life in order to be ourselves. But it certainly helps those relationships if you know who you are without conflict or condition.

Shelter-in-place, self-quarantine, with more time on our hands than usual, is giving us the unique opportunity, if we want it, to discover more about ourselves, who we are at our core. We have more time alone to think about what is most essential to us. When life is lived in its usual “normal” way, we attach a level of importance to the activities that constitute our daily life. But when we can’t engage life in that way, the focus shifts to what we’re left with—ourselves, our families, and close ones, our immediate environment.

During this unusual time, many people seem to be very uncomfortable out of their comfort zone—life as it had been before coronavirus. That’s very understandable. That’s in part why people are so anxious to get back to life as it had been lived before. But we know that it’s going to be a while before any semblance of normal returns. And it probably won’t ever be the same again. We will all be somewhat different than we were before. Some people, however, are choosing to use this time to reflect on their life, to what really is important to them, to how life can be lived differently and better considering the “unknowns” and the uncertainty that’s sure to follow.

Regardless of the timing and the circumstances, introspection is always a good thing. Learning more about yourself is always a fruitful exercise. Learning more about the “essential you” is always welcome. While each of you will find your own way back to yourself, or discover who you are for the first time, here are some thoughts and suggestions to consider.

You know yourself better than anyone else. If you never considered this before, it’s time to start thinking about it. Throughout your life, others may have tried to tell you that they know you better than you do yourself. Can you relate to this? Ask yourself now, “Without all of the roles and identities I’ve acquired in the course of living, Who am I? What do I want for myself?” You don’t need anyone’s permission to do what feels right to you, to do what feeds and nourishes you.

Don’t let others’ expectations limit who you are. What others expect of you is a reflection of who they are—their own wants and needs. When people expect certain things from you it speaks to their reality, not yours. You are just a participant in their reality/fantasy. It’s the way they need for you to be in order to be a part of their life. When you rely upon yourself, you are no longer bound by peoples’ expectations. There’s more to life than pleasing people and trying to fit into their life. Anyone who insists on limiting your true expression is not respecting and honoring you.

And that goes for self-limitations. Whatever your reason for limiting yourself, now is the time to revisit and rediscover those experiences, hopes, and dreams that you’ve buried away. You may not be able to do everything you’d wished you'd done but anything new is wonderful.

Take risks. Begin to speak up, to say what’s on your mind. Speak your truth. Express yourself through your ideas, opinions, creativity, and individuality. Do things you’ve been afraid to do in the past for fear of failure, of being ashamed or embarrassed, of not being good enough. Embrace spontaneity.

Surround yourself with those who value and respect who you are. Spend your time with people who lift you up and celebrate all that you do. Limit your relationships with those who give you a hard time or remain demanding of your attention and time. Let go of those people and things that no longer serve you.

Have a purpose. A purpose, a reason for being, is a good way to remind yourself of who you are. Purpose is a symbol of what you’re doing, what you want to accomplish while you’re alive. Even if life gets in the way, and it will from time to time, having a purpose expresses that you’re here for a special reason and that who you are is essential for accomplishing that bigger goal.

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