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How to be your true self: 9 tips on how to connect to your true self

Updated: Feb 22



What does being ‘true to one’s self’ actually mean?


I see it as making daily choices that are constantly in alignment with your highest good. Choices which FEEL right. Choices which are meeting your own needs. I also see it (in perhaps a more esoteric way) as being connected with your Soul, your Spirit, your inner Being.

However, for many of us this is hard to do.


WHY?


Because most of us have had to betray our real self, and ignore our needs in order to be accepted by others. This starts off in childhood - maybe we had to repress a side of us because when we showed it we were criticised or shamed by our parents.


Maybe we were called ‘too sensitive’, or maybe we were told we were ‘bad’ for expressing emotions such as anger or told to ‘stop crying’. Maybe we were punished for showing these sides of us and we felt scared and abandoned. Therefore, out of a survival mechanism, we would have chosen to suppress these sides of us. Maybe we ‘dumbed down’ our sensitivity. Maybe we ‘numbed out’ of our environment by disassociating from our body. Maybe we swallowed down the tears or the anger that wanted to come out. We did these things so that our parents and caregivers would ACCEPT us and LOVE us.

However, in doing so we shut down a part of us that is very much real and worthy of being seen. We morphed into a version of us that didn’t have ‘those’ qualities or didn’t show ‘those’ emotions. It carried on through school, wanting to be accepted by our teachers and peers. Our society and culture told us what was ‘acceptable’. Out of fear of being abandoned, we carried on shrinking ourselves smaller and smaller to fit inside a little box.


Soon, it got to the point where we forgot who we truly were - who were we when we were a little child, in connection with our TRUE self, so innocent, so pure, so open-hearted, so trusting, so free, so limitless, so accepting of all of our emotions. Years of conforming to other people’s expectations made us anxious, fearful, small and full of limitations. We closed our hearts to the world. We became disconnected from who we really were.


So how do we come back to our true self and connect to that integral part of us?


  1. The first step to coming back to one’s true self is to be AWARE that you have become disconnected from it.

  2. The second step is to make a COMMITMENT to yourself that you will come back to your true self and do what it takes. This can look like saying a prayer to yourself or writing this down to really ‘cement’ it in your mind.

  3. The next step is to get to know YOU. Spend time getting to know yourself - what do YOU really like and dislike? (NOT what OTHERS think you should). This step can take some time and that is ok. We are getting to know ourselves almost like a new relationship - it takes time. JOURNALLING is one of the BEST ways to do this. It doesn’t need to be written well or be done in any particular way. It can be a safe place for you to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Make journalling a daily practice. Buy yourself a nice notebook that you will have as your special journal so that you will want to write in it. Even use your favourite pen. There are many ways to journal, which I will cover in my upcoming blog all about journalling. One of my favourite ways to journal is to just ‘free-flow’ write - don’t even think about what you are writing, just get everything out of your head onto the page. It makes you feel much lighter afterwards. Do this at the end of your day, or after a stressful event occurs.

  4. Grow your intuition. As you progress with step 3, you will naturally begin to become more in touch with the signs your body is telling you. This could be in the form of a ‘gut instinct’ or perhaps a ‘feeling in your heart’. One thing I would recommend is to do some sort of mind-body practice. Yoga is amazing for this, and so is Tai Chi or Qi Gong. These practices make you more aware of your body. Where you may have been so disconnected from it before, these practices focus your attention on your body, your breath, the sensations in your body, and emotions that arise. I feel these mind-body practices are the BEST way of getting to know yourself and connecting to yourself. WHY? Because the body is the language of the subconscious mind. If you listen to your body, you will understand yourself so much better. It will let you know whether there are things in your life you need to change - whether it be your job, relationships, health, your diet etc. (For further reading on this subject I recommend ‘When the body says no’ by Gabor Mate and ‘The body keeps the score’ by Bessel van der Kol.)

  5. One of my favourite ways to connect with my true self is to practice MINDFULNESS and/or MEDITATION. Both are similar concepts, I love practicing mindfulness at regular intervals throughout the day - especially when I feel I have been feeling scattered or overwhelmed by what I have to do that day. An example of this could be switching off your phone or any other digital device, and sit in silence for 5-10 minutes. Close your eyes and tune into the sounds you notice around you. It could be the clock ticking, the sounds of birds outside or a plane in the distance. Listen to the sound of your breath and just watch it as it flows in and flows out. This is you connecting with the PRESENT MOMENT. This can help us to relax, feel more at peace and reduce stress. This can help us to connect more to our intuition and hear what our needs are (like in step 3). The more we sit in silence, the less we are putting our attention on the noise outside of us. Therefore we have more attention to focus on what is happening on the inside.

  6. Throughout the day, take a pause and ask yourself: ‘How am I feeling right now?’. This will train your mind to pay attention to your feelings and actually help you to connect to your emotions in a healthy way.

  7. Throughout the day, take a pause and ask yourself: ‘How is my breath right now?’. Notice whether it is high in your chest and shallow (restricted, stressful breathing) as opposed to low in your belly and deep (full, relaxed breathing). If you feel you haven’t taken a deep breath in ages (which happens to ALL of us), take a beautiful, intentional deep breath in. Let out a sigh on the out breath. The louder the sigh the better. Notice how much lighter you feel. (If you are in a public place like at work, then a good tip is to do this breath when you take a bathroom break if you feel uncomfortable doing it in front of others!)

  8. When you get upset over what someone else has said or done, it is good to journal about this afterwards. Firstly, it helps to LABEL the emotion you are feeling. Usually we say things like ‘they were being such a jerk - how could they be so selfish?!’. But in saying this, we still don’t acknowledge the emotion we are feeling. Sitting with ourselves and asking ‘WHAT emotion am I feeling’ can lead us to go within and realise that we are feeling angry and also hurt by what that person had said or done. This gives us a chance to honour that emotion - to sit with it and deal with it. This allows the emotion to be processed healthily and move out of our body. Emotions are meant to be passing and it is only because of our minds (ruminating over problems) that causes emotions to stick around.

  9. Instead of judging your emotion (ie hurt and anger), become curious and ask yourself WHY do I feel this way? This is a GREAT way of getting to know yourself better. It helps you to know what NEEDS were unfulfilled at that moment and so you are able to see what your current NEEDS are. From this place you can then find a way of meeting those needs yourself or perhaps make a request of somebody. For example, if I felt overworked because I was taking on too many priorities, I would realise that I have a need for REST. Therefore it is up to me to look at how I can meet this need of REST. For example, I can look into delegating some priorities, I can choose to say ‘no’ if anyone asks me to do anything else, and I can craft out the time each day where I allow myself to ‘rest’. This could look like going for a walk in nature, watching a favourite film or doing some at-home yoga. It will be different for each person.


The point is, the more we get to know our true selves, the more we are aware of our needs and the more we will meet those needs. This means we can show up as the best version of ourselves for our loved ones and the rest of the world. It is a win-win situation for everyone. We can’t pour from an empty cup. The more we keep our cups of ‘needs’ full - and over-flowing- the more we can pour onto others and help them. Another by-product of being in connection with our true selves is that we will be more in alignment with our purpose here on this earth and with our gifts and talents that we can share with the world - we will feel more ‘in flow’. Things will come much more naturally to us and we will attract authentic relationships because WE are being AUTHENTIC to ourselves. We will find our SOUL TRIBE. We will feel more fulfilled and more resilient to take on the day-to-day challenges of life. We will be able to blossom into our fullest potential.


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