Friday, October 31, 2008

In search of Authentic Self

I think we hear a lot about finding one's authentic self. Unless you have been in that position, of feeling like you are not sure who you are or what you want, this phrase doesn't really resonate for you. If you have been in this place, you know the power of those two words.

About 10 years ago, I was married, and on the brink of divorce. I knew I wasn't happy, but really wasn't sure why. When I would ask myself what I wanted, I felt so confused. I knew I wanted to be happy, but how could I do that? What did I need to do? I wanted my kids to be happy too which meant I couldn't get divorced. Then of course there was my husband. I really felt sorry for him for the grief I was causing. I felt so lost and unsure, turning to my friends and ultimately a therapist to help me figure out what I wanted.

What I discovered as I pulled back the layers, were little bits and pieces of me. Apparently it hadn't been OK for me to display these parts of myself. I thought as a mom, employee, wife, etc I had to be a certain way, mostly in order for all of them to be happy. The more I did this, the less I knew who I was or wanted, until I came to the place where I couldn't remember, hence the confusion.

Fast forward 10 years, over five years with my therapist, 4 years with a 12 step program and lots of classes and education, including all of my coach training, have brought me to a much greater understanding of who I am. Yet this searching for, and craving to hold onto my authentic self does not go away. I still feel lost sometimes, unsure what to do, able to see the possibilities in going either way as well as how certain people would be happier if I went one way vs another. When I feel myself feeling confused, I know it is time to come back to my place of authenticity, to reconnect with Cindie at her core and what she is wanting and needing.

I know you might be thinking well yeah, but how? And what do I do about those people counting on me to do X and I want to do Y? To this I say (and believe me, following my own advice is my own personal challenge) take time to be alone and quiet, to be with only your own thoughts and more importantly feelings. When I get in my head and analyze things I am usually thinking about what I should do and trying to be the way I imagine I should be in that particular role. If I can take quiet time for myself -- write, talk out loud or work with my own coach, I can get to the heart of what I am feeling. And the truth is, I need to do this on a regular basis. It helps keep me feeling more ME.

What are some ways you stay connected to yourself? I go hiking or walking and have a conversation while I'm moving. I try to meditate regularly. I listen to what my inner voice is saying and not just listen but pay attention.

Wishing you peace on your path...

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