“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering” – St. Augustine
In the quest to discover one’s potential, many people seem to be wandering aimlessly these days, dazed by a sense of confusion. Numerous self-help books line the shelves of bookstores proclaiming the latest movement or program to heal you in thirty days. Self-help groupies seek solace in New Age wisdom only to discover what is already contained within – the source of all wisdom.
I often ponder the number of people who follow the advice echoed within the pages of a self-help book, a blog article or seminar. Given we live in what is arguably the most prosperous period in the world’s history, why have we lost our sense of self? This confusion has given rise to a popular meme now used synonymously throughout the Western world known as “first world problems”.
I affirm that our maladies may be attributed to straying from our life purpose, while simultaneously succumbing to external influences. The young are inundated with a surplus of information nowadays, fuelled by technological advances that have allowed us to stay connected, especially via social media. In many ways our connections are nothing more than empty posters on an electronic billboard which serve to remind us that we belong. And yet, we have an inner longing for social acceptance. It is wired into our DNA to be a part of a tribe.
The following points are what I consider to be the quintessential qualities for reconnecting with your essential self. I have chosen to list as many points possible, while opting on the side of brevity to provide you with a detailed list.
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“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley
- Accept yourself: Complete acceptance of oneself entails acknowledgement of your wholeness with all your imperfections, foibles and insecurities. You cannot disown unfavourable aspects of yourself and seek to highlight positive qualities. This might be deemed treading a fine line toward narcissism.
- Know thyself: This does not entail knowing your likes or dislikes. Rather it is a call to discover the true essence of your spiritual self. Who is the real you? What are your true motivations? What kindles your soul? What are your passions?
- Discard the false self: Many people have created a false sense of self – an image of who they think they are. It is believed the mind creates a false persona epitomised by the ego to keep it alive. Unfortunately life events (tragedy or loss) may disrupt this image and suddenly one is faced with the task of re-examining their sense of self, since the illusory shadow is shattered.
- Do not identify with thoughts: I’ve written extensively in recent times about not identifying with your thoughts. Do not allow your thoughts to give you an impression of your real self. Thoughts come and go, yet the essence of who you are is unchanging and authentic. Connect with that part of your nature.
- Surrender addictions: Many people suffer from controlling addictions to things or people. Addictions extend to habitual thoughts which occupy valuable space in the mind and body system. They deprive you of energy and disconnect you from your precious self. Let go of that which does not serve you – drop it like a hot piece of coal.
- Stop seeking validation: Let go of the need to prove yourself to others. You do not require validation from others to prove your worthiness; even from loved ones. No one or nothing can offer you the authentication you long for, other than yourself. True validation comes from the core of your being.
- Find time for silence: Find time to be alone every now and again, particularly in nature. Exercising outdoors allows you to reconnect with yourself in a tranquil setting among nature. Being outdoors harmonises both mind and body and energises the soul.
- Connect with your heart and mind: In my book The Power to Navigate Life, I have titled a chapter ‘Connect With Your Heart And Mind’ since I believe many of us live life from the level of the mind. We get stuck in left brain logic, since we were taught to reason the world through logic alone. It has been demonstrated in experiments that the heart’s electrical impulse is 40 to 60 times greater than the brain. The heart often feels or intuits things well before the brain has time to make sense of it.
- Accept the perfection of life: There is no need to change anything ‘out there’ since the heart of your troubles is always contained within. As you tend to your inner landscape, your external reality inherently harmonises with your inner world. As the Hermetic aphorism states, “As within, so without”.
- Focus on yourself first: Tend to your inner world and nurture it through self-examination and introspection. Invariably when things go wrong in life, knowing that you can remain peaceful and safe is reassuring. It is like a ship in stormy weather – nothing can destabilise a ship when it has a strong hull. It floats through troubled waters allowing the raging storm to take it where it needs to, knowing in due course it will find refuge in safe harbour.
- Relationships are vital lessons: What we loathe in others, we disapprove in ourselves. I wrote about this in a previous article called, ‘Relationships Are Mirrors of Yourself’. Therefore at a deeper level your difficult relationships are a call to heal an aspect of yourself which you are at war with. Embrace the lesson by allowing painful memories to move through you without becoming invested in any harmful emotions.
- Connect with purpose: Your purpose may or may not be tied to your career. Your purpose is your life’s calling – your spiritual truth. It is the deeper question which we beckon of ourselves – why am I here on Earth? Why have I been born during this period in time and what have I come here to become? You discover your purpose by ‘doing’ not by sitting around waiting for it to land in your lap. Pursue anything which fuels your soul and slowly but surely your purpose will be made known to you. Purpose requires momentum, hard work, commitment and sacrifice. People who feel ‘lost’ have disconnected with their purpose.
Have you ‘found’ yourself? What are some of your favourite life lessons you have learnt along the way? Share them below.