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How To Be(come) Your Self

August 22, 2016

By Jacinta Hin

“Her life was her own. It was no longer there to be taken by anyone.” (James Salter, from his novel Light Years)

I am watching a youtube video of Aretha Franklin performing a Carole King song. The audience, amongst which Carole herself is sitting, goes wild. I too disappear in the music. Literally. In the presence of these two song goddesses, I shrink to minuscule proportions. A speck of dust… a snowflake in the sky...

Soon enough I snap out of this feeble feeling of inadequacy and return to my sense of self. And the music.

Herein lies my problem: when I compare myself to others or judge others to be more important than me, I walk away from who I am.

Do you know how that feels? One minute you are on top of the world, self-assured and happy, the next you’re thrown off balance and feeling small. It happens to all of us, albeit for different reasons and in different grades. For you, it may be envy or self-doubt. Or maybe, not knowing how to speak up and convey your feelings.

We all experience moments of struggle with the life we have and the choices we make. We become blinded by our feelings, confused by circumstances, misguided by beliefs and expectations. We wander from our authentic path in search of fancier, more successful versions, hoping for a personality upgrade or instant transformation, like a Pokemon evolving into a more powerful beast.

For many of us, life is somewhat of a rollercoaster experience. We are forever looking for what is missing, for something to improve or change. How can we effectively manage this?

The best way forward, I have come to believe, is the inner journey that leads to —or leads back to— who we truly are.

Here are some tips that may help you on your travels:

  1. Brutal honesty. Look in the mirror, look inside. See who and what you really are, get to know your self. Admit to whatever is going on for you. Be curious. Open up. Consider different perspectives. Ask probing questions. Journal. Reflect. Review.
  2. Love thyself. Accept your imperfections and reality, even if you are not where you believe you should be by now. Forgive yourself for indiscretions, mistakes, unflattering habits and behaviours. Embrace your uniqueness…your special strengths and inner beauty. See the gift you are to the world, to your self. Embrace how you show up each day.
  3. Ditch the monsters: Shame, doubt, blame, anger and other negative emotions; resistance and stubbornness; neediness; and so on… Go about it slowly. What is most in the way? What needs to go first? How can you let go of these feelings without kidding yourself?
  4. Drop the baggage. Peel away the layers that have you locked up in someone you’re not. Who are you without your stories? Do you need to break with someone/something? Clean out the metaphorical closet. Take mini-but-determined steps, shedding whatever is false and keeping you stuck.
  5. Be dauntlessly gutsy in a two-steps-forwards-one-step-backwards-kind-of manner. Every day, summon up a little bit of courage, to break out and through and onwards. Let fear be a guide, a source of strength. Find your centre and face life's challenges from there.

Your external reality is not who you are. Neither is your inner confusion. Your life begins and ends with you. The real you. We often forget that. We neglect going back to our roots, the place where we are free, at peace and unbounded.

One more thing: To be self-centered does not mean being selfish at other people's expense. Keep that mind. This is also something we sometimes forget in our quest to be(come) our selves.

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About the author: Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.
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