Who Am I ? Part 2: by David Volick

Hi again.

Last month I discussed how we all, to some degree, develop personalities (which I will call our personas) that are in conflict with our true-selves (which I essentially defined as genetic predispositions).  Recall that I mentioned that we develop personas because the behaviours of our true-selves elicit negative reactions from significant others, and our personas satisfy our desire to be liked and give us various forms of approval. And, the greater the degree that your persona differs from your true-self, the more intense will be your feelings of insecurity, emptiness, uncertainty,  anxiety, depression, etc.

Okay, that sounds logical. So, how do you change such that your persona gradually disappears and your true-self emerges? Unfortunately, you just cannot will it to be so. This path of self-development will take a lot of hard work and perseverance, and you will encounter many obstacles along the way.

One obstacle will be the significant people currently in your life. They will try to stop you because they are used to, and like you, the way you are. Thus, if you begin to grow, how will they relate to you if they are not also on that path? They could feel threatened, afraid that they will lose you; they may be frightened of growing, etc.

Another source that will sway us from becoming who we really are is our society in which we live, and its powerful tool, the mass media. The values and attitudes constantly hammered at us by our peers and the media reinforce our personas but rarely our true-selves (indeed, as mentioned above, these sources were the reason that we repressed our true-selves and created out personas).

It may or may not come as a surprise to you that actually the biggest enemy of your self-growth will be yourself. Remember, you likely have become somewhat comfortable being your persona. You fit in well with society, perhaps have been very financially successful, have friends and family, and experience a relatively stable and enjoyable life-style. To begin on the path to self-growth could mean a change, or even an end, to this life to which you have been accustomed.

Let’s now discuss how to begin your journey of self-awareness. You first must accept that you are, to some degree, unhappy and empty (recall I mentioned last month that if you are reasonably happy with yourself and your life, then there may be no compelling reason for you to change). Once you have accepted your true emotional state, then you will see that to some degree you live in fear and therefore make many if not most of your decisions out of that fear: Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of not belonging – all derived from the fear of being yourself (after all that is the reason for your persona).

So, how do you combat this fear? I know of only two ways. First, I believe that there are only two basic emotions, this fear and love. Whenever we experience another negative emotion, such as anger, it only serves to cover up the fact that we are afraid. Additionally, fear and love are mutually exclusive; that is when you are in the moment of loving, you experience no fear. So, the first way to stop fearing is to start loving: Loving nature, pets, other individuals, and most important of all, your true-self (again, remember that you repressed your true-self because you grew to dislike and mistrust it because of the negativity it drew to you).

The second way to conquer fear is to live in the now. As a general rule, there rarely is anything to fear “right now”, at this instant. Typically we fear the results of what we have done in the past or what may happen to us in the future. I can honestly state without exaggeration that about only 99% of the things that I have worried about in the past never came about – what a waste of time and energy that could have been spent in a more positive way,

Next month I will continue to talk about how to change your life into a more positive and satisfying one – how to become your true-self and thereby begin to feel happier, more content, and stronger.


Who Am I ? Part 1: by David Volick

Hi all.

This is the first of a series of monthly articles that will appear in the Aikido Network News Letter. These articles will focus on self-growth, your self-growth.

If you have found your passion and you believe that you are being who you think you were meant to be; that you’re on your life’s path to self-fulfillment, then these articles will probably hold little for you. However, if the answers are “yes” to many of the following questions then you may find them of interest.

Do you often wonder who you really are? Do you experience an emptiness deep inside that has never been fulfilled? Do you believe that you have a purpose in life but have been unable to discover it? Do you feel that you are not being who you are meant to be; that you became someone other than your “true-self”? Do you not know where to start to discover who your “true-self” really is? Have you never found the one thing about which you could become passionate?

First, we need to begin by briefly defining a concept that I will call your “true-self”, a term that I use to describe or represent the individual whom you are striving to become. You could view the beginnings of your true-self as genetic predispositions or temperaments that are present at birth. If these are valued and reinforced by the significant others in your young life, then they will develop naturally over time into your true-self. However, if these basic temperaments are responded to in a negative fashion, then you will grow to believe that they are bad and you will repress them in favor of behavior, attitudes, values, etc. that draw respect and a feeling of belonging from important others in your environment.

I think we’ve all experienced this. For instance, you might have been acting free, just “being yourself” and others make fun of you in one manner or another. The result likely will be that you feel humiliated and may berate yourself for behaving that way and you promise yourself that you’ll never do that again. Or, you were super excited about something you found outside and in your excitement you run inside to share with a parent, and for whatever reason, that parent hollers at you not to slam the door and to be quiet. You can see that from that time on, you might suppress that carefree part of you and thus lose that wonderful magical spontaneous way of reacting. In other words, you have in some way just stopped being your true-self.

Now, if you take that principle back to very early childhood, you can imagine how this would result in you not just suppressing a part of you, but virtually the “whole you”. Let’s use a simplified example. Suppose you have parents who are sensitive to others’ reaction to them, who are what one could call “people people”. They would value positive interactions with others over and above all else. Now, let’s further suppose that they have a very young male child whose temperament is just the opposite. This child is a doer. He does not need nor want a lot of hugging and attention. He is most satisfied playing by himself. Now the people-oriented parents obviously want much more interactions with their child that the child initiates. So, when they pick him up and disturb him, he may arch his back and scream until they put him down. This negative interaction could easily result in the parents becoming angry with the child and even in punishing him for his “tantrums”. As time goes by, the child, because of the extremely negative reaction from his parents, becomes more like them to please them and receive a more pleasant reaction from his parents. Such a scenario demands that the child suppresses a lot, if not all, of his true-self.

I offer three examples of individuals whom I believe have found their true-selves would help to further clarify this concept. The first person is Einstein, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientist that ever lived. He expanded out knowledge of space-time. His theories are responsible for many of our modern conveniences, such as automatic door openers and TV remotes. Once, when waiting for a train (I believe), he was approached by another to-be passenger. This person told Einstein who much she admired him and how amazed at how much he knew about his field. Einstein replied, something like, “If you thought about a topic 15 hours a day, seven days a week, you too would become an expert on that topic”. Einstein did indeed eat, breath, and live, physics.

The second individual I present to you is Jacque Payet, Shihan. Any of you who watched and worked with this amazing man would have clearly seen one who has found his path, who is truly being his true-self. He did not pretend to be an expert in the practice of Aikido, he WAS one.

The third person I will mention as one who is being his true-self is our own Sensei Derek Binder. I have come to know him over the past 7 years. He is another who eats, breathes, and lives his passion, which for him is Aikido.

So, in essence, if you are not passionate (that is think about it most of your waking hours and really get tremendous satisfaction) about what you are doing, then you probably are not being your true-self but rather being someone programmed to act from a place of fear. I hope that helps to clarify the notion of one’s true-self, and how you might not be truly even close to being yourself, as defined above.

That’s all for this month – to be continued next month. If you have any questions or would like to chat about your self-growth, please do not hesitate to contact me at: dvollick61@rogers.com.