Finding Yourself - Are You Lost In The Journey?
I have a friend who has been "finding herself" for 10 years. How long does it take? And how do you know it's YOUR SELF when you find it?
“She’s looking for herself.” We use that phrase a lot don’t we? “He’s on a journey to find himself”. Like they will be walking down the road one day and see themselves on the sidewalk, “oh good! There I am!” Problem solved.
I wish it was that easy. If you can “find” yourself, that would imply that you’re out there waiting for YOU and all you need to do is discover where you are. The ultimate problem with this concept is that most people are looking for the answers to themselves in the external world, hoping someone or something will solve their puzzle. But until the self is found on the inside, the problems will persist.
I have a beautiful friend who has been “looking for herself” for the 10 years that I have known her. I have watched her take classes from several religious establishments, read books from various spiritual and self help leaders, and travel to different geographical wonders of the world. Each time she immerses herself in the rituals or beliefs or places, she finds glimpses of contentment and purpose. Until she returns back to her “real life” as she calls it, and slowly loses her acquired realizations. It’s a pattern, a cycle of shutting down on the inside and searching for answers in the outside world. Now mind you, she is a lovely wife, mother and business woman. On paper, she appears successful and accomplished. However, her close friends know that she has a constant battle with true fulfillment and happiness of herself.
So how then? How do we go about finding the answers; the keys to our happiness within ourselves? Wouldn’t we already have them if they exist in there? Wouldn’t we already be aware of them, own them, and know how to use them? Not necessarily. Unfortunately, it’s often not that easy. We are complex and mysterious and ever changing beings. But there are steps you can take, choices you can make to turn that journey inward and find lasting contentment.
1. It always starts with awareness. Make the choice to be aware that you are looking on the INSIDE now. You are listening to the teacher in YOU. My guess is you’ve taken enough classes or read enough literature to get a good idea of what resonates with you. Make the decision that you will not search on the outside for the time being. You will spend this journey with your self… listening and exploring only what’s inside now.
2. Declare what it is you’re looking for and put a name to it. Get rid of the vague idea of “finding yourself” and define exactly what it is that you want to find. It’s not YOU. Trying to “find yourself” is like a dog trying to catch his own tail. What you’re trying to find is something much more specific than yourself. When you hone in on what it is, you will have found “yourself”, or what some call your “authentic self”. Maybe it’s your purpose in life, maybe it’s the job you’re supposed to have, or maybe it’s the person you are supposed to be that you aren’t yet. Get clear about what answer you are looking for within… and make it real and specific.
3. Commit to finding time to be alone once a day. No media, no telephone, no book, no conversations, no distractions. You with YOU. If you can, get outside, take a walk… sit on a quiet park bench. The first few times you do this, DO NOTHING. Let your mind go where ever it goes. Do not multi task here. This is not your workout, or time to read the paper. Do not do anything that takes your mind away from YOU. Just be with your self and listen to it . . . no expectations, no judgments. Just get reacquainted with your thoughts and how they make you feel.
4. When you are comfortable with that; when you are making time daily or at least bi weekly to do this… begin a more active journey.Think about bringing a journal or even a small voice recorder with you. Begin asking yourself questions… as you would a teacher or friend. Spend time on each one… there’s no hurry here.
- When do you feel your best? When does the hair on the back of your neck raise with excitement? When do you feel motivated and energized? When do you feel that authentic self begin to dance… or at least break into a smile inside? Can you do this activity more? Can you put yourself in the situation with more frequency? Make a plan to increase it in your life!
- What do you regret not doing? Picture yourself at the end of your life, what do you wish you had done or experienced that you haven’t yet? What are you waiting for? Plan to make a step in the direction of achieving it.
- Are you worried about what other people think of you? Is there someone whose judgment of you is affecting your choices and actions? Become aware of the compromises you are making because of your concern of other’s perceptions. If it’s possible, plan a conversation or write a letter to this person explaining why you need to do what you need to do. Then, release yourself from the responsibility of taking care of them in this situation. Visualize yourself open, telling the truth and free to pursue your goal.
- Play the 10 Million Dollar game. If you had 10 Million Dollars, what would you do? What do you fantasize about for yourself? Is money a crutch for you? Are you allowing the lack of money to keep you from something? Or the fear of money to keep you stuck somewhere that makes you unhappy? Examine this… and start thinking outside the box for resourceful ways to live “as if” you had all of the money in the world!
- Write down what you are grateful for. What is in your life that you appreciate and honor? Your health, your friends, your family, the fact that you are taking the time to sit and contemplate? What is in your life now that makes you happy and fulfilled? By giving energy and thanks to it everyday, you will have a new perspective on the realities of your life and what is truly important to your authentic self.
Remember, in trying to “find yourself”, you are not lost. Continue to move through it, move forward and discover. The journey of self discovery and fulfillment is a life long quest. And know that you’re not in it alone. Every one of us wants to achieve our purpose; every one of us wants to feel fulfilled and content. Embrace your self discovery. If you continue the search for yourself inward, you will discover that the self is not something you find. You will find the happiness, the purpose and the fulfillment in the self you create.
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the budwas more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anaïs Nin
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I have been a professional artist and artist coach for 15 years. I have established a website for the creative community. Come check out my articles, stories and free online coaching for creative personal development. www.creative-personal-development.comEveryone is creative . . . it is you who creates your life!