Sometimes in life, we feel like we are living in conflict with our true selves. Something inside us screams, “This isn’t you!”
When you are tired of living a lie or going with the flow: just “twiddlin’ them thumbs.” It may occur as—a feeling of vague dissatisfaction, self-betrayal, or a pit of emptiness.
“Turn it up, it’s your favorite song,
Dance, dance, dance to the distortion,
Turn it up, keep it on repeat,
Stumblin’ around like a wasted zombie,
Yeah, we think we’re free (ah-ha)
We’re all chained to the rhythm,
To the rhythm, to the rhythm…”Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry
Such moments –if you follow your instincts– usher you into a journey of self-discovery (in an attempt to be one with your authentic self). Often accompanied by the desire to be or give an honest representation of oneself: authenticity.
Kernis and Goldman (2006) give a technical description of authenticity as—
“the unobstructed operation of one’s true–or core–self in one’s daily enterprise.”
Finding Yourself: Creating a Profile
Finding oneself involves gaining accurate knowledge of self and consciously using it to make informed choices.
That means being comfortable with ourselves; the way we think, act and treat others. And acknowledging our faults and failures, too.
Where then do you begin when faced with the question: who are you? Or, what characteristics, interests, or values make you who you truly are?
- Pay attention to your feelings
We react emotionally to different experiences: positively or negatively. Recognizing these emotions and getting to the root cause of every feeling will give you insight into who you are– flaws and all.
Do you pressure yourself to be perfect? Is the desire to please others hindering the expression of your true self?
- Identify your Core Values
Core values are the principles that govern your actions and thoughts. Those are the ideals that you live by.
Identify, and if possible, list them down.
In a new environment, are you confident in your uniqueness, or do you crave belonging?
What matters most to you in life: tenacious toil for achievement/popularity or happiness?
- Uncover Clues from the Past
Our experiences shape us into who we are or become. Clues about one’s core self can be found from a person’s memories of the Past –both the good and not so pleasant.
Go back to it with an open mind. We sometimes distort our memories to fit a particular narrative.
Delve deeper into the underlying issue(s) that prompted a particular feeling or reaction from you.
Doing this could also help you reconnect with who you were if you are currently feeling lost and detached from that self.
- Keep Judgment at Bay
Many of us have a distorted self-image that we nurture, different from our true selves. This image is a hindrance to acquiring self-knowledge.
Be prepared to discover surprising aspects about you; that which is different from what you thought you were.
Don’t allow judgment or expectations of others to influence what you accept as part of yourself.
Also, try new things. Your journey of discovery may be beyond your comfort zone.
Is the core-self something dormant, waiting to be activated; one that evolves with time; or both? There’s much debate on this.
When you identify what makes your authentic self, the biggest challenge is to be true to it.
Are you willing to live by the values, morals, and beliefs that you identify as aspects of your core self?
The paradox of it all is—research shows people feel most authentic when they act contrary to their nature. That is by conforming to a specific set of socially approved qualities.