How to Find Yourself in 9 Steps
As Mary Oliver put it, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Our days on this earth are numbered, so what’s the point in being someone we’re not?
Being who you authentically are at a core level is breathtakingly liberating. So much in your life will start flowing beautifully once you learn how to find yourself.
Your relationships will improve. Your work life will improve. Your family life will improve. Your mental and emotional wellbeing will improve. And above all, your relationship with yourself will improve.
So how do we get there?
Here are the 9 steps you can take to find yourself:
- Make time for solitude
- Mentally and emotionally purge
- Pinpoint your top five core needs
- Think about what you really want in life
- Embrace your right to be self-sovereign
- Explore, travel, ponder (and find your passion)
- Say goodbye to people and commitments that reinforce inauthenticity
- Connect with your spiritual center
- Reconnect with your wildness
These steps can be attempted individually (you don’t have to successively do them). And remember, some will work for you and some won’t. So experiment and don’t be afraid to fall down and get back up again.
I’ll expand below:
1. Make time for solitude
Solitude is powerful and it is the very first step to finding and becoming yourself again.
In solitude, we can distance ourselves from the noise around us that clutters our minds and confuses us. By solitude, I mean absolutely no contact with friends, colleagues, social media, etc. Solitude means simply being with yourself without distraction. A great way to do this is through meditation.
No, you don’t need to drop everything and become a hermit. Simply designate a few hours a week to solitude.
If you need to drive somewhere to be alone, do it. If you need to barricade yourself in a room to be alone, do it.
If others are confused, explain to them that you need some time to rejuvenate alone. If they’re reasonable, they’ll get the picture. If not, you may need to forcibly set boundaries and find time to be alone.
2. Mentally and emotionally purge the inner sh*t
One of the most effective ways of mentally and emotionally purging is through journaling. (Also, drawing is another good method.)
Begin by vomiting all that you feel onto a page. Don’t censor yourself. Let it run free and get as explicit as you like.
Once you’ve purged, you can then reflect on what you’ve written: What themes arise? What dominant emotions come through?
Focus on developing a bit of self-understanding and don’t worry if you’re not completely sure of yourself. Just give it your best shot.
3. Pinpoint your top five core needs
We all have wants and desires, but needs are different. Needs come from your core, and they are unnegotiable because they’re vital to your sanity.
One great way of pinpointing your core needs is by focusing on areas of life that make you feel miserable. In what parts of life are you the unhappiest? You can be dead-sure sure a core need isn’t being met.
Once you have an idea of your top five core needs, write/draw them. Then, underneath, explore all the ways they are/aren’t being met.
In order to find yourself, you need to strip back to the basics. You need to shed all of the superficial wants and desires that cloud your mind and rediscover the gold that is buried within you. This inner gold is the fabric of your soul and it’s what makes you, you.
By understanding your core needs, you’ll know how to direct your life and be aligned with your inner center. For instance, if a core need of yours is to live close to nature, you’ll be able to find jobs, houses, and relationships that respect this quality that nourishes you.
4. Think about what you REALLY want in life
As author and inventor Stephen Key writes,
Consider how rare it is for us to make a meaningful, sustained observation of our likes and dislikes. Of course, we routinely complain, grasp, go along, fight—but we rarely ask ourselves, in a protracted and serious way: What would create purpose or contentment for me? What would I really like to be doing right now—and in whose company? We seldom ask, with deadly seriousness, who we want as intimates; where we physically and morally wish to dwell; and what we want to do with ourselves.
This guy has a point: how often do you think about what YOU really want in life?
Forget about what your parents want. Forget about what your friends, partner, colleagues, or society wants: what do you want?
I know it may sound a little harsh, but you need to ignore everyone else and listen to that little voice within. Why? Well, your life is YOURS to live. No one has the right to tell you what you should and shouldn’t want in life.
So take some time to dive deep and introspect. If you could do whatever you want, without consequences, how would you live your life?And then, from there, make the appropriate compromises (i.e., it’s not a smart idea to abandon your kids) and take the steps toward that destination.
5. Embrace your right to be self-sovereign
Being self-sovereign means stepping into the role of ultimate authority within your life.
When we practice self-sovereignty we realize that no one else is responsible for living our lives but us. We realize that no one else can dictate what we should do but us. We realize that our lives are our creations – and what works for others doesn’t necessarily work for us.
To be self-sovereign means to step into the role of King or Queen of your life. Instead of seeking validation and approval from others like a beggar, you turn inwards and find that acceptance within yourself.
Often, those who struggle to find themselves don’t believe they have the fundamental right to be self-sovereign. Instead, they believe that they need to play by society’s rules in order to be acceptable.
It’s a simple mindset shift, but it creates massive, unfathomably intense ripples of change in your life to accept that you have the right to be self-sovereign. One of the best ways to start is to define who you are and who you aren’t.
Here are some journaling prompts that will help you to step into the role of self-sovereignty:
- What do I like and dislike?
- What is my style?
- What does beauty mean to me?
- What does success mean to me?
- What does happiness mean to me?
- Who do I think I am (vs. who others think I am)?
You’ll know that you’re successfully answering these questions if you have to pause and think a lot. It can take a lot of digging to find our true thoughts, feelings, and beliefs AND distinguish them from society’s perceptions.
6. Explore, travel, ponder (and find your passion)
You’ll need to make a conscious effort to break out of your usual routines in order to find yourself.
While you don’t need to book a six-month vacation to Bali, you do need to branch out and try new things. If you’re not the traveling type, this may be armchair traveling in which you purchase a book that looks helpful or watch an inspiring documentary.
Who you are at your core is very much entwined with what you’re passionate about. Your passion is your calling in life, and when you’re not in touch with your passion, life feels dull and flat. The zest and spark of life emerge when you know what your personal mission is, and to find that, you need to do some inner (and sometimes outer) exploration.
Why not start with this article on the meaning of life and see where it takes you?
7. Say goodbye to people and commitments that reinforce inauthenticity
You have the right to find yourself, be yourself, and walk a path that is true to yourself. Don’t let others drag you down. Don’t let poor habits and commitments sabotage your efforts to make positive changes.
Self-development teacher Jim Rohn famously stated once that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who will those five people be? And what will they bring to your life?
Make an inventory of all the people and commitments in your life right now. Next to each, weigh up the pros and cons. Do they enrich your life more than impoverish it?
It might be scary to redesign your life from the ground up, but it’s worth doing if you want to make real change. Try to find friends and commitments that honor your right to be self-sovereign.
8. Connect with your spiritual center
As spiritual teacher Don Miguel Ruiz writes:
Of course, any time we try to be what we are not, we fail. It’s so difficult to be what we are not, to pretend to be what we are not. I used to pretend that I was very happy and very strong and very important. Wow! Living that way is truly a deep hell. It’s a setup, it’s a no-win situation.You can never be what you are not, and that is the main point. You can only be you, and that’s it. And you are you right now, and it’s effortless. There is no need to justify what we are. There is no need to work hard to become what we are not.
At the core of the quest of finding yourself is being yourself. To be yourself, you need to stop thinking you need to be someone else.
In theory, that sounds simple. But in practice, it’s one of the most difficult things in the world to embody.
As mentioned previously in this article, we live in a fractured society that is designed to program us with self-doubt, toxic shame, and insecurity. There is so much noise around and within us that we easily lose touch with the voice of our souls, with our True Nature, and mistake our ego-selves for our authentic selves.
9. Reconnect with your wildness
Your wildness is what is true to you. It’s what feels most organic and real to you. (And yes, even the idea of wildness can be a suffocating label that we try to fit ourselves into. Even wildness can become a marketing ploy. So cut through that crap and get to the juicy core.)
As Mark Nepo writes:
The unwavering truth is that when we agree to any demand, request, or condition that is contrary to our soul’s nature, the cost is that precious life force is drained off our core.Despite the seeming rewards of compliance, our souls grow weary by engaging in activities that are inherently against their nature.
One of the best ways to reconnect with your wildness is to tune into your energy. What makes you feel drained, depleted, dull, and dry? You can be sure that whatever ‘that thing’ is, is trying to put a muzzle on your wildness.
On the other hand, pay attention to what fills you with joy, excitement, fizziness, and passion. You can be sure you’ve found something that enriches your soul: something that is truly you.
Reconnecting with your wildness is very much about learning to connect to your body. Your body is like an antenna of truth, and anything untrue will immediately be registered and expressed by your body.
Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way of tuning into your body, as well as other practices like somatic experiencing, yoga, and 5 Rhythms dancing. Use these modalities to embody your wildness and find yourself.
When Akiba was on his deathbed, he bemoaned to his rabbi that he felt he was a failure. His rabbi moved closer and asked why, and Akiba confessed that he had not lived a life like Moses. The poor man began to cry, admitting that he feared God’s judgment. At this, his rabbi leaned into his ear and whispered gently, “God will not judge Akiba for not being Moses. God will judge Akiba for not being Akiba.” — From the Talmud
Learning how to find yourself can be a long journey, but it’s worth walking.
Without finding out who you truly are, you will forever be lost in life, forever making the same mistakes, over and over again, ad nauseam.
To find yourself is to be yourself, and to be yourself is to find yourself. There is both an individual and transpersonal element to finding yourself: it is a path necessary for outer and inner growth.
My hope is that now you have a new path to follow and some valuable advice to absorb.
Original title of the full article: How to Find Yourself When You’re Lost in Life (9 Steps) You can read the full article here
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