The Authentic Self: How Well Do You Know Yourself?

Have you ever wondered who you are and why you make the choices you make? Are you not just a collection of decisions influenced by an unbound subconscious? An amalgamation of the people you surround yourselves with, the way you were brought up and the knowledge you've picked up. How much are you truly yourself and how much are you a piece to piece of everything around you? If our values don't align with the actions we make, and we allow those actions to become a habit and eventually define our character; we aren't being authentic. If you want to find your true self, it certainly requires a lot of self-reflection, a reflection on why you make particular decisions but more importantly how content you are with life in that moment. Is there anything you would change that's in your control? If there is, what’s stopping you?

When hearing people's perception of myself, I'm often surprised by what they say. I wonder what initial impression I give to someone I've just met and how that changes over time. In fact, it makes me grasp the fact that there are a million different versions of myself out there. Not one person thinks of me in the exact same way another does, yet are any of those versions the real me?

I came across an article that reflected these thoughts on the website Wait But Why:

"It takes some serious reflection to sift through the webs of other people’s thoughts and opinions and figure out who the real you actually is. You spend time with a lot of people— which of them do you actually like the most? How do you spend your leisure time, and do you truly enjoy all parts of it? How does your gut really feel about your job and relationship status? What’s your true political opinion? Do you even care? Do you pretend to care about things you don’t just to have an opinion? Do you secretly have an opinion on a political or moral issue you don’t ever voice because people you know will be outraged?"

A thought-provoking Ted Talk which aims to answer some of these questions which I highly recommend is by Caroline McHugh: The Art of Being Yourself:

Some of the thoughts she shared which resonated with me included:

  • Every year your job is to be better at being who you already are.

  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking about yourself less.

  • You're not your thoughts because you think them. And you can't be your feelings because otherwise who's the 'you' that feels them. You're not what you have, you're not what you do, you're not even who you love or who loves you. There has to be something underneath all that.

  • If you can tap into the inner voice, not only will the speed of your life get quicker, not only will the substance of your life get richer, but you will never feel superfluous again.

Our authenticity is the one thing that makes us wholly unique and we should embrace this without question. Once you learn how to be with yourself, you will start to make authentic decisions, form authentic relationships and lead a life of fulfilment.


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