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Will The Real Me, Please Stand Up!

Will The Real Me, Please Stand Up!

“When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful.” – Carolyn Myss

Have you ever felt like you are standing on the outside of life looking in on everyone else who seems to be happy and have it all together? Are you perpetually the chameleon changing your colors depending on who you are with? Do you just want to be a part of the group, rather than the one standing on the fringes?

If so, then welcome! I have felt like I’ve been on the outside looking in for most of my life. I perpetually felt like the little girl with her nose pressed up against the glass wanting what she could not have…to belong.

I just wanted to be accepted and I wanted to connect. Is that such a bad thing? Of course not.

Doesn’t everyone want to feel like they fit in and are liked and accepted? Maybe.

So, not knowing how to deal with those feelings, I did what most people do to fit in. I followed the pack. I drank too much, in a feeble attempt at feeling more comfortable. I do not know for sure if I fit in any better, but I do know that I cared less.

I cursed and acted cool. I still curse, but it is less about being cool. I feigned interest in conversations I found uninteresting and trivial, dying silently behind my smile. I talked about the things that people seem to want to talk about, denying my own voice. I rarely disagreed with others, keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself, instead nodding approvingly.

And I hated it.

I sometimes tried to bring up topics that did interest me…spirituality, the suffering in the world, the age-old question “what is life about?” That usually got me a deer in the headlights look or the disapproval I was trying so hard to avoid. Not exactly the typical party conversation.

So, I kept trying to figure out how to be…more like “them”.

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I am sure this will not be a surprise to you, but I was not happy.

Why, you ask?!

Because I was trying to be something and someone I am not. I was making the approval of others the priority in my life. I was allowing someone else to determine my value.

What Is Your Soul Purpose?

What exactly makes someone else’s opinion more important than mine? What makes the approval of anyone, the appropriate barometer for my personhood?

Now, I understand why fitting in was important. As a child, I never felt like I did, so I was always attempting to adapt to my surroundings in order to minimize feelings of rejection. I needed to be compassionate with myself as I began to understand why I felt the way I did. I needed to take long, kind and frequent looks at myself to heal what had been broken.

We are each unique individuals, who I believe, are here on this earth for some particular reason and purpose. I cannot possibly know what that is for anyone else. It isn’t even my business, unless they choose to tell me. And honestly, I wish they would. That is the kind of conversation I can wrap my brain around.

Nonetheless, what is my business is to discover what my reason and purpose is. But before I do that I have to let go of the idea that “fitting in” is more important than being who I am.

How is that for a soul mission?

To be fully who I am…without worrying whether I fit in, am approved of or accepted.

If we all did that, fitting in would become irrelevant.

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I already belong…we all do.

No matter race, religion, gender, country, disability or any other differentiating factor you can conjure up to explain your separateness, we are all a part of the human race and so, necessary to our wholeness.

Knowing that, of course, is the hard work. Who am I underneath my need for approval or acceptance?

What Happens When You No Longer Need The Approval Of Anyone Else…

What happens when you no longer need the approval of anyone else…when fitting in no longer matters?

Well, let me tell you, because this is good stuff.

I have discovered that the more I approve of myself, the less I care what others think. The more I love and accept myself…all of me…especially the not so pretty parts, the better I feel. The less I judge myself, the less I am concerned with the judgments of others.

What I also discovered was that the things I assumed others were judging me on, were the very things with which I was judging myself. The things I wanted approval from others about, were the things I was withholding approval from myself. I also recognized that I wanted others to love me, so I would feel better about myself, all the while avoiding finding out what it meant to love myself.

In other words, my happiness was dependent on the approval, acceptance and love of others. I needed it to validate my existence.

That was a pretty powerless place to be. It is so much more empowering to be responsible for my own happiness. It is so much more empowering to not have my self-worth be dependent on someone else.

When I began to accept and love myself, valuing myself was a natural outcome. When I began to value myself, I expected people to treat me better, knowing where and when to draw lines when others overstepped them. I also began to recognize I had something to say worth listening to, even if the people around me didn’t want to hear it.

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Yes, go figure, I realized I had something to offer the suffering world. In this process, I found my own voice and I discovered fulfilling ways to use it. I was no longer so afraid to speak up, even when someone disapproved.

I no longer hung my head in shame, which I am sure is right up there with one of the worst feelings we experience in life.

Although I needed help to make these discoveries about myself, I realized it was my own approval and acceptance that I always needed. Truthfully, what someone else thinks about me, whether they like me or not, approve of me or not, is none of my business. That is their problem, not mine.

As Carolyn Myss says, “When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful.”

That is because we are well on our way to being our truest self. There is so much power in that! Our truest self is not going to be ruled by an insecure ego.

The true self is never threatened by others or has any need to compare itself to anyone other than its highest self. It is then that we can emerge to fully be whoever we are called to be. It is then that we have the greatest impact on the world.

Whether a mentally or physically disabled person, a Mother or Father, a trash collector or accountant, an athlete or a homeless person, if we are fully being who we are called to be, then we will have the impact on the world that we are intended to have. We will also be at peace.

So, who is this True Self? What does the real me look like?

The Real Me

It is the one who feels at peace when making a decision, despite the anxiety the ego might feel about the reaction or opinions of others. It is the one who gets excited at the possibilities, when the world tells you it’s impossible. It is the small voice inside that says, “yes, you can” even while another voice is telling you, ‘no, you can’t. It is the one that perseveres against the odds, knowing there is a way out, even when they can’t yet see it. It is the one who wants to bust out of all the restraints and rules, dogma and doctrine dumped on you by a fearful world.

If you think about it for just a minute, you might be able to remember a moment or two or three, when the True You showed up.

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It might have been during a tragedy when you found your way to higher ground. Maybe when you reached out in kindness to someone hurting. It likely showed up when your heart burst with love after looking at your newborn for the first time. How about when you finally valued yourself enough to ask for a raise or set a much-needed boundary with someone?

How about when you are “in the zone” playing some sport, or singing or playing an instrument or doing whatever it is that you do when you feel most at home in your skin.

You will know the True You because it is the best version of yourself. It is the moments you feel proud of yourself. You will feel its strength coursing through your veins or its peaceful demeanor when all is right with the world. It will show up when you feel an unexplained connection with another person or the Universe or nature.

The Truest You also knows you are never alone. It knows that all things are working out on your behalf, even while plodding around in the mud and the muck. It believes in your greatness, even when your mind can’t yet grasp the idea.

The world needs each of us to reach our potential, whether it’s a bucket full of potential or a thimble full. It is fullness either way. The bucket is not better than the thimble, just bigger.

The True Self recognizes the value of everyone they meet…and those they don’t. And it knows this because it knows its own value.

When you start approving of yourself, accepting yourself and loving yourself, the Real You will begin to emerge.

The True Self lives within your depths. Find it, be it, love it. It will love you back! It will never do you wrong. And, finally, you will always belong!

Featured photo credit: xvire1969 via imcreator.com

More by this author

Sandra Cooper

Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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