Last week, I introduced the idea that too many of us spend far too long living as an interpretation of who we are meant to be. I want to expand on that, if that’s OK?
I want to expand on that by exploring the cornerstone of that epic adventure into becoming the real you – your best self – that we talked about last week: the ability to love yourself.
Oh so easy to say, but all too often excruciatingly difficult to do, to love yourself first requires acceptance. Acceptance that you are where you are. No denial. No avoidance. No judgement. No condemnation. Just acceptance. Acceptance that, while you may not like it, where you are right now is where you are.
But, acceptance that where you are right now is where you are, is not an acceptance of an ongoing existence as an interpretation of who you truly are. Rather, that acceptance unlocks a context in which the past can be acknowledged, the present can be understood and the future can be embraced.
It offers a baseline from which you launch your epic and ever-unfolding adventure into the person you are meant to be – the real you.
But to find that baseline – to be able to accept your present reality – you must first understand exactly what that reality is. And to do that, you must deconstruct the interpretation that you have become – the good, the bad and the ugly.
And that deconstruction begins with a process of discovery.
Who is it that the world encounters as you interact with it? Who is it that you encounter as you interact with yourself? What version of yourself do you choose to reveal (and yes, it is a choice), and how do you reveal it?
It is the attributes that you do display – the characteristics that you see when you examine yourself, and that the world sees when you engage with it – that embody the version of you that you choose to reveal. And, unless those attributes reflect the true essence of you, no-one – not you, and not the world – will ever have the incredible privilege of knowing who you really are.
So what attributes do you choose to display? Well, your attributes essentially fall into four ‘pillars’ – physical, personality and character, emotional, and your attitude to health and wellbeing. Each of those pillars shapes how you interact with the world around you: your confidence, belief, sense of worth, and understanding of who you are all flow out of the view you hold of those four pillars.
So, it stands to reason that, if your view of those four pillars is out of whack, no matter how slightly that may be, your understanding of who you are will be out of whack. And, when that is out of whack, your relationship with yourself, and with the world, is out of whack.
And here’s the thing – when your relationship with yourself and the world is out of whack, you have no chance of even knowing who the real you is, never mind ever allowing that person to come alive.
So you have to discover the reality of how you see yourself today, no matter what that reveals. And, when you understand the reality of how you see yourself today, you can begin to unpack why that is.
What messages have infiltrated your thinking and shaped your view of who you are? What circumstances surrounded you and caused belief and thought patterns to take hold? How does the way you see yourself today compare with how you saw yourself before those messages and circumstances cast their spells?
When you understand why you see yourself the way that you do, you can stop fighting. You can stop judging. You can stop condemning. You can stop striving to be someone else. And you can start to accept that, while you may not like what you found, or the reasons why those things were even there to be found in the first place, where you are right now is your present reality.
And that acceptance is your baseline – your starting point – from which you can strip away the distortions that have no place in your future, and rediscover those characteristics that truly express who you really are.
But where do you start? How do you build an understanding that leads to acceptance? Well, why not give this simple exercise a go:
First, describe the person who stares back at you when you look in the mirror. What do they look like? What type of person are they? How do they behave? How do they approach life?
Then ask yourself how you feel about that description, and why you feel that way. Why do you like the bits you like, and loathe the bits you loathe?
And what does that tell you about the person you really are? How far removed is that person from the interpretation of you that you have become?