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.