Discovering your true self is a crucial stage in your personal development
Just think of this: how well do you know your true self? And what is it exactly that you know? How many personal facts or character features do you know? What do you think of your true self? Is this the ultimate pride you’re feeling, or maybe shame or even fear? Your self-growth and the success of personal development efforts are entirely dependent on how well you know yourself and how you feel about your personality.
I hope you will forgive me for starting my entry with questions yet again. It seems to me that I quite enjoy starting some of my personal development articles this way. Probably, because no matter how much further I progress in my self-growth, I always get to some next level of self-understanding only to ask the next round of questions. It seems impossible for me to reach a point where I’m going to run out of all the questions and just sit there not knowing what should be done next, feeling that the quest for personal growth is over. I’m always full of questions. I’m always keen on learning something new. And sometimes it’s not clear at all whether it’s my questioning that makes me learn more or it’s my learning which makes me question everything.
My true what?
Yes, you’ve read it correctly. Your true self! And if you think you don’t know what I’m talking about, think again. Your true self is how you feel yourself when nobody’s watching. It is where your deepest thoughts live. It is what you ultimately think of yourself, how you treat yourself and what you fear others might see inside you. It is your most native and real personality.
Strangely enough, up until some quite recent point, I honestly believed that your true self is something you’re always aiming for as a person. It is the much better you which lives in your dreams – a successful guy or a beautiful girl which you always wish you could become one day. I thought becoming your true self is only about improving or gaining something about yourself. Turns out, I was wrong.
Your worst fears
Have you ever done something you wish no one could ever find out about? Chances are, you have. Do you still remember what exactly it was, and why you didn’t (and maybe still don’t) want anyone to find out about it?
Quite often, we do something and then try and justify our behaviour using things, events and people we see around us. A little bit less common but still very popular is to go through this process the other way around – justifying our actions, and then actually making them.
We do something only to realise how stupid it was, and this is when you can easily hear the inner voice of yours. That’s your true self talking there right now. This is the voice which, depending on your character, will either encourage you to take even more actions or discourage yourself as much as possible. This is the inner voice which easily controls a great part of your self-esteem. And like it or not, your true self is absolutely right in most cases.
So what happens then? We hear ourselves thinking about some events and we hear quite reasonable explanations inside our heads on the subject. We get to hear all the truth on the topic, and nothing but the truth. And if we’ve just made a mistake, most likely this is the moment when we feel ashamed. We look at what we’ve just done again and again and we simply can’t comprehend how something so stupid could be so easily done.
What’s the next usual step you take? Honestly now? Most of us will try and cover the tracks. We’ll pretend we didn’t notice something, or we’ll make it look like we don’t feel so good and we can’t possibly be held responsible for whatever just happened. Sometimes we won’t even bother with inventing or showing anything, we’ll just try running and hiding away. And we succeed at this, too! So quite often after doing something, it is really only ourselves who know what really happened and have the power to explain or fix the things done. But we very rarely do.
Why? Because that’s the human nature. We always have this fear. The fear of showing our real self, the fear of being exposed, the fear of being rejected for what we really are. This is because on top of our true selves, we’ve always got some layers of our personality – and as we go through our lives, these layers just keep adding up unless we do something about them.
Layers of personality and your personal growth
I personally don’t think it’s very important to know how many layers your personality has. As long as you’re conscious about having SOME layers, you’re fine. This means there is still hope that you can try and lift these layers, slowly and carefully peel them off and see (and maybe even show, if you’re adventurous enough) your true self.
You see, your true self is always right about everything. But our personality layers make us hide this truth, disguise it and then explain why we did it in such a way that we can live with it.
For instance, if you’re at work and you’ve got some task on your to-do list which you hate even thinking about, you’ll definitely try reasoning with yourself and explaining why it is very important that today you’re busy doing something quite different. Anything, in fact, except this one task you hate thinking about. It takes some training to finally find the courage to accept and explain things the way they really are. To absolutely agree with your true self and to accept what your course of actions should be.
We all have layers of personality for various reasons. Not all the layers serve the only purpose of making you look better in someone else’s eyes. Sometimes you need these layers to feel (to appear) less vulnerable to others. Quite often people add negative layers simply to hide how really weak or fragile they are. But it’s important to stay conscious about having few sides to your personality, and even more important to learn how to skip some of these layers and avoid their demonstration. You will make a great progress in your self-growth as soon as you master dealing with your personality layers. You don’t want to be hiding them. Instead, you should probably make it one of your personal development goals to ensure you take a closer look at every side of this personality of yours, and to analyze how much of a benefit it is to maintain or cultivate it, and to decide what parts of your personality are better for you to show and to hide.
You can still probably remember the times where you could speak or act freely, without any fears regarding the impact your behaviour may have. Do you remember how good you felt back then? And can you spot what exactly have changed since then?
While I’m sure you have your reasons for changing over the past years, not all the changes you’ve gone through were really that necessary. And luckily for you, there is still time to revert some of these changes. And here are just a few steps which will help you rediscover yourself:
- Listen to your heart
You still get these moments in your life where you face some difficult situation and you even when you see the next logical step to the resolution, there is some resistance which makes you stop and think more before taking the action. I’m talking about the moments where your true self suggests you should do something, yet you know you can’t do just that due to some reasons imposed by the environment or the situation you’re in. A good example of this is any difficult argument with your better half or a true friend, especially when somewhere deep inside you know and you feel you’re not right.
How many times did you have to force yourself into such an argument and you couldn’t let yourself get out of this simply because you were thinking that if you give in, this would show you’re a weak person? There are many other reasons of the same kind, and if you actually take some time and go through them after the argument, many of them would make no sense whatsoever. They seemed to be important to you at the time of an argument, but they’re suddenly not anymore. This is exactly the situation I’m talking about.
When your heart tells you to stop arguing because what your opponent feels is much more important to you that what this person thinks, trust your feelings and stop. You’ll be amazed how many times such an act of yours will be greatly appreciated by the person you were arguing with.
- Focus on giving value
No matter what you’re working on, focus on giving value, and not on what impression you’re going to make. There are many prejudiced people around – no matter what you do, they will not change their opinion about you. As long as they have the slightest suspicion you’re doing something for you, and not for them, they’re not going to change their point of view.But what if you could just forget about the impression? Forget about people who might find your questions or actions silly. Focus on the value you’re going to give my taking some actions. Focus on the people who will benefit from your actions, and how exactly they’re going to appreciate the value.
This is true for many aspects of our life. If you forget about yourself, and concentrate on giving value to others, you’re bound to improve their attitude. People like getting value, and they appreciate it even if they don’t openly tell you.
- Maintain your integrity
There are many situations when doing something conflicts with your inner feelings or thoughts. Get into the habit of analyzing such situations.Quite often we conflict with our principles for the sake of looking good or making some progress. That’s why it is very important to always make sure you know if such a sacrifice is really necessary. If it’s something not important, you should never conflict with yourself, because in many situations you’re acting in a certain way simply because of the situation you’re in. What happens then is that the situation will change, while you will be left on your own with your thoughts and conflicts.
Maintain your integrity – many problems are not worth the self-conflicts you’re getting into.
- Respect your goals and values
This is probably the most important aspect of staying in peace with yourself. If you don’t respect what’s important for you in long term, you’re putting yourself under a risk of becoming a slave to other situations and people who will manipulate you.Yes, it’s always good for you to give value to others, but you should avoid doing it at your own goals and values expense. If you know that helping someone else make things worse from your own goals and values point of view, take some time and reconsider.
In many cases, the little value you’re going to force yourself give to someone else will not be worth the personal goals of yours which you may not meet as the result.
That’s it for now. These are the principles I live by, and they really help me feel better about myself. Thanks to my better knowledge of my own personality, it’s easier for me to achieve my personal development goals and to progress with my self-growth. Now that you know these principles, please consider applying this knowledge in your personal growth and telling me what your principles are. I’m always interested to learn, so if you have time to post a comment or even simply share a useful link – please do so. Thanks!
Update from 05/06/2006: Welcome, dear StumbleUpon visitors! I’m really glad someone thought this entry was worthy of your attention, and I hope you like it here!