Becoming Our True Selves
I believe spiritual life, our own unique spiritual path, is all about recognizing and becoming our true selves.
We hide ourselves from ourselves and from each other. Our true selves are precious to us and we go to great lengths to hide them, even before we realize what we are doing.
The defenses we construct to hide and protect ourselves are complex, particularly when they are unconscious. We determine the world is not a safe place before we can understand how it works, so we fear it. The protections we build are not strategic decisions. We protect who we believe we really are.
We make decisions about the world around us and who we are before we have enough understanding to choose wisely. Many of us end up hiding ourselves from ourselves before we can keep track of where we are hidden.
We know we are afraid but are not sure what makes us afraid. It is a challenge for us to get in touch with who we are and we do not know why.
Many of us experience the world around us as filled with expectations. Some people are quick to give us their opinions about who we should be and what will make us happy. The people around us may not have a clear picture of who we are because we have hidden ourselves.
We may feel we do not have a clear picture of ourselves.
Some of us take a look at where we are and what we are doing and become concerned about who we are becoming. We may resist other people imposing their expectations on us, or grow frustrated about not knowing who we are.
How can we possibly begin knowing and becoming our true selves?
I do not believe becoming our true selves is primarily an analytical challenge. There is no list of steps or questions we can run through or check off to ensure we find the right answers.
We reflect and listen, asking insightful questions like in any relationship, and start to get acquainted.
Discovering and Becoming Our True Selves
Becoming our true selves is a spiritual practice which lasts a lifetime. There will never be a time when we have reached the point where our journey is complete, where we have become.
Each day, each hour, is an opportunity to grow into understanding ourselves. Some moments will feel like we have grown more than others.
As I grew up I was encouraged to use my brain. I was taught it was important for things to make sense, to be rational. My analytical thinking was encouraged at home, at school, at church.
I practiced thinking and asking questions. It became important to me to understand how things worked. I loved reading and learned a lot about things before we covered them in school.
I think people thought I was smart, which I liked, but it was probably intimidating.
Being smart was who I started to become. It worked well for me in many situations. Eventually, though, I began to learn about other parts of myself which were less rational, less reasonable.
There were painful experiences which showed me what emotional intelligence was all about. I can remember when I realized I actually had some intuition and could be intuitive.
There is more to becoming our true selves than merely doing what other people tell us we should do.
Slowly I began to understand spiritual life is more than the logical, tangible building blocks people had taught me.
We cannot become our true selves until we are free. Our true selves flourish as we learn to free them from the defenses we have constructed. The protections we have built have become a prison.
As we persist and continue to grow and explore we discover who we are hoping to become.
Spiritual Life and Becoming Our True Selves
Our true selves live in union with the sacred, and in connection to everyone and everything else.
As we learn to go deeper, as we get to know our true selves, new aspects of us are revealed to us and to the world. We know ourselves in new ways. Our core values and our vision for ourselves become clearer and more integrated. We become who we have the potential to be. The ways we relate to ourselves and others, and how we live in the world, become transformed.
Our interior lives and our everyday lives fit together.
It is as if ignoring my true self convinced me I was another person. I do not really know who I am and assume I am someone else.
Getting to know our true selves is like making friends with anyone else. We need to take time to appreciate who we actually are and who we are becoming.
I need to learn how to listen. I began listening to sacred stillness, to other people, and even to myself.
My true self and I share a lifetime of memories. Like with any new friend, it took us time to grow comfortable with each other.
Knowing and Becoming Our True Selves
Nobody is requiring us or forcing us to become our true selves. It is not a form of punishment we are enduring. Good friendships grow over time as we build trust.
Knowing and becoming our true selves may take us more time and work than we would like. We will discover things we regret and which cause us pain.
There are no final answers. As we grow closer to who we are in our everyday lives we still need to continue facing our own challenges and finding our own ways to grow.
Each step we take toward becoming our true selves is a spiritual step in the right direction.
Recognizing and becoming our true selves helps us feel comfortable in our own skins. We discern and appreciate what we are drawn to do and why it exerts a pull on our attention. As we grow into our true selves we begin to find the ways it is natural for us to contribute, the skills we enjoy using.
How will we continue discovering and becoming our true selves today?
Where will becoming our true selves help us go this week?
[Image by bandita]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life coach in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.