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How to Be Who You Really Are

by Jamie Jackson 4 days ago in advice

That which can be destroyed by the truth should be

How to Be Who You Really Are
Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

A mindset coach walked me through a mental exercise. He told me to imagine standing in a room throwing away all of the labels I give myself, or other people have given to me. Father. Husband. Writer. Comedian. Friend. Brother. Son. Coward. Bully. Protector. Whatever the label, I was to imagine it on a piece of paper and throw it into a big pile with the rest.

The aim of the exercise was to visually stop identifying with narratives about who I thought I was and instead just be.

Tony Robbins says;

“The strongest force in the human personality is the need to stay consistent in how we define ourselves.” – Tony Robbins

We identify with a story about who we are and then both consciously and subconsciously live up to the expectations that come with that story.

This is the driving force behind all behaviour. You may think you don’t succumb to this trap, but every time you say “I can’t do this” or “I’m not the type of person who does that” you’re living up to the bullshit story you tell yourself.

I do it. I believe I’m good in social situations, so I am. I believe I’m bad in work meetings, so I am. I’ve picked up some labels from the pile, carried them around and convinced myself they’re me.

They’re not me, or you, they’re labels. We can put them back in the pile and choose again.

The voice inside your head

In the opening chapter of his book ‘The Untethered Soul’, Michael A Singer addresses the constant jabbering voice inside your head.

It’s the voice that narrates your life, it says, “Oh a tree” when it sees a tree, it runs down corridors of interlinking thought when a memory is triggered, it tells you if you’re happy or unhappy in a given situation.

Singer asks what part of the voice is really you. He says that out of all the good, positive things the voice says, and out of all of the bad, negative things it says, what is your true voice?

The answer? None of it is you. How can you cherry-pick which bits you want? It’s an endless narration that whirs on regardless of your input. You can observe it, you can believe it, or you can dismiss it.

Yet we entertain the voice because, Singer suggests, it brings the chaotic outside world inside, where we feel we can control it.

“Basically, you re-create the outside world inside yourself and then you live in your mind,” he writes.

Your doubts and judgements, your labels and stories, your limiting thoughts, all of them are not you.

Though they comfort you. So you fight for your limitations because you want to keep them. They are your armour, they keep you safe, and they draw boundaries around you.

Singer goes on, “All of this helps to create a semblance of control. If your mind doesn’t do this, you simply become too uncomfortable. Reality is just too real for most of us, so we temper it with the mind.”

Yet it is the truth, “reality”, that sets us free. We all know it. But to be free takes courage. To look truth in the face is, as Singer mentions, too uncomfortable.

You aren’t where you want to be because you’ve made a secret bargain with yourself to avoid risk. You’ve decided to play it small, to get a bit of what you want and then hunker down and ride life out.

The story, the labels, the excuses, protect you from the burning sun of truth. Self-imposed limits are sunscreen.

This can change.

There are three stages to healing. The first is the hardest: awareness. From there, acceptance and action can flow. One cannot heal or change if awareness is eschewed.

And when awareness is eschewed, reality becomes crooked. To maintain the lies, the whole world has to be manipulated in your head. The voice has to work hard to control it and justify your dishonesty.

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote on this;

“Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others.” – Dostoyevsky

It is far nobler to face the searing sun of truth and be burned by its rays than it is to hide in the shadows of your own life.

Risk is dangerous, don’t underestimate it. And the brain doesn’t like it. But life too is dangerous. No one gets out of here alive.

If you think the risk of doing something is too high, wait until you get the bill for doing nothing.

There is no other way to emancipate ourselves from the prison of our own story than through the truth.

This can come in simple steps. Shedding labels and unbecoming everything that isn’t you doesn’t have to be an esoteric awakening, it’s available to all, not just the holy men and the divine who meditate for 15 hours a day.

Start small. Think of the pile of labels. Choose what to pick up. Think of the story. Stop aligning your character and abilities with its lies. Embrace the discomfort of truth. Tim Ferriss has a wonderful quote about life. He said;

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferriss

Uncomfortable conversations lean into truth. They’re not the usual pleasantries we play out to avoid confrontation. You can transform your entire life simply by being more honest.

That which can be destroyed by the truth should be. Not my words but those of PC Hodgell. It begs the question, is your life a construction of lies? Are you playing out a character, rather than who you really are? And what would happen if you stripped away everything that wasn’t you and let the labels and stories go? Would truth destroy it? What would happen? Have you tried?

Imagine not trying.

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About the author

Jamie Jackson

Between two skies and towards the night.

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