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Last Updated on May 3, 2018

How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track

How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track

You often hear people say, ‘be yourself’ or ‘be true to yourself’ or ‘just be you’. Many legendary quotes speak to this concept and it is one of the topics about which I’m most passionate.

I deeply believe (and have experienced this with hundreds of people) that if we are ‘true to ourselves’, we will experience greater success and more fulfillment with less stress and frustration along the way.

My primary goal as a coach and consultant, is to help people do just that — to live a life of greater happiness, fulfillment and success; to get them from where they are, to where they want to be by removing any obstacles along the way; and to help them take one step closer, towards health, towards balance, towards wholeness.

While there are many (awesome) books, courses, programs, and words of advice on living a life you love, I always come back to the conclusion that the fastest way to get there, is to be true to you and get back to who you are.

In this article, I will share with you the importance of being true to yourself to get back on track.

There is no place like home – your true self

In the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy taps her ruby red slippers together and repeats “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

    The same is true for each of us. There’s no place like home. There is a core in each of us where we thrive. This place or “state”  is a reservoir from which we generate health and energy. And ultimately your body, your mind, your spirit all yearn to get back to this “home.”

    Much of our stress, our angst, and our frustration is caused by being disconnected from, or out of alignment with the source of who we are.

    Why people stop being true to themselves

    From a  young age, we are pulled off track from being true to ourselves by well-meaning family members, teachers, the education system, our communities and society.

    Perhaps you were told to be quiet when you had  much to say; or maybe your curiosity was crushed when your ‘whys’ were met with ‘because I said so’; or your creativity and free spirit were suffocated when you were forced to fit in and sit quietly in a traditional classroom setting.

    There are hundreds of examples of this, and I’m sure you have your own.

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    In fact, we as a culture, as a society, as humanity, are derailed now, more than ever. We are thrown off by the multitude of challenges in our own lives, by what’s happening in our countries and the world. There are unrealistic expectations and demands coming from every direction.

    We are pulled off track by our 24-hour, technology-fueled world. We are being pulled in different and sometimes even opposite directions, playing the many roles in our lives – employee, friend, parent, partner. All of these diverse roles have their own demands and expectations.

    We read books about how we should do things, take courses on what we are supposed to do and try to model what we see others doing  to improve ourselves or be the right influence on others. And depending on the day of the week, or time of the year, or the newest article or study……the advice is often different and conflicting!

    What happens if you are not true to yourself

    It’s no wonder there are such staggering statistics around stress, health and well-being, especially here in the U.S:

    • 77% of Americans find themselves regularly experiencing physical and emotional symptoms of stress
    • Over 50% of adults have a chronic health issue including heart disease, stroke, chancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
    • 55% of people regularly take a prescription medicine.
    • Worldwide, the most recent Gallup poll showed that 85% of people worldwide hate their jobs.

    Sadly, I could go on. But I won’t. Hopefully, you get the point I’m trying to make here.

    For one reason or another, we are disconnected from our core self, we have slipped out of alignment with who we really are, and what we already know. And that friction, that pull is having widespread and significant consequences to us each individually, and the health of our communities, organizations and, honestly the world.

    Let’s think of ‘being true to self’ as a magnet. Your core self is compelled to get back ‘home’, it is your ‘truing mechanism’. But life’s circumstances and crises may actually have a stronger and demanding pull. As you get pulled from your home base, it’s like a magnet being wrenched from its attachment.

    What happens when you pull a magnet away? It gets shaky, it tries to get back. But if you let it, it will snap right back into place. Again, if you try to pull it away, it shakes again. Think of this shakiness as the magnet’s way of saying, “Please!  I want to get back home. I need to get back home.”   

    The warning signs (that you ignore)

    Now think of this for yourself. When you get separated from your core self, from being true to you, what do you experience?  Do you get ‘shaky’ like the magnet?

    This ‘disorientation” can manifest as:

    • Physical symptoms such as low energy, headaches, stomach issues, tense muscles, frequent colds and infections, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, you name it.
    • Emotional symptoms can include feelings of anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, loneliness and eventually depression or anxiety.

    These ‘warning signs’ are your body’s way of saying, I want to get back home, I need to be there.

    But most of the time, we ignore them. We keep pushing them down or forcing our way through. If we get a headache, we take some Advil; if we have high blood pressure, we get a prescription; if we feel depressed or anxious, we drink a bottle of wine, or take a tranquilizer.

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    But the reason those things are showing up, is to tell you something. Your body may be telling or even screaming at you that something is not working. What we really need to do is pause and identify the ‘why’ behind the symptoms we are experiencing. These often relate to us being off track from our true selves and what works best for us.

    The unwanted consequence

    What happens if you pull that magnet completely apart? What happens when you pull it so far away that it can’t find ‘home’ anymore?

    It loses its sense of self. Like a compass that has lost its ‘true north’. You have no sense of direction, you are lost, confused and anxious.

    Without this sense of ‘belonging’, you might experience feeling like you’re going off the rails, about to crash and burn. This is what’s happening to too many of us. We don’t even know where ‘home’  is anymore.

    But you DO. Your core sense of self knows! It knows exactly where home is.

    How to be true to you and get back on track

    You might, at this point, be thinking this all sounds wonderful.  But how do you get back on track? Some of you might even be wondering what being true to yourself even looks like any more.

    Here are 11 ways to be true to you and get back on track again:

    1. Identify what you need to thrive

    One way to figure this out is to think about times in your life when you felt fantastic. On top of things, under control, in the ‘zone’.

    Think about times in your life when you felt most happy, fulfilled and successful. Write them down.

    Now, think about what was it about those times that made them so great? Was it the environment you were in? The people you were surrounded by? Something you were building or creating? Or maybe a feeling you had? Maybe you had a clear picture, a plan, a purpose or challenge?

    2. Think about what makes you happy

    Genuinely happy! What makes you feel joy? Laugh? What do you love to do? Are you doing that? Why not? How can you live more in touch with your passions or be doing more of the things that make you happy?

    3. Pinpoint what makes you feel most like you

    Think about when you feel most like yourself. What makes you feel connected, grounded and centered with who you are.

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    Is it time with friends and family? Meditation or Yoga? Being a complete badass, adventurous risktaker? Connecting with something deeper and more significant on a spiritual level? How can you get more of that in your life? What nourishes your soul at a deep level?

    4. Know when you don’t feel like you

    In order to get back on track, you have to know you’re off track in the first place. That’s why it’s just as important to know when you don’t feel like you.

    How do you know when things aren’t working for you? Think about what pulls you out of stride? We talked before about physical and emotional symptoms that show up. What are those for you? What do you think, hear or feel?

    Notice. Pay attention to these ‘early warning signals’ your mind and body are sending you.

    5. Look at your core values

    Do you know what’s most important to you? How can you reprioritize and put those things first? If one of your core values is family, how can you live that more? Maybe it’s health, what are you doing towards greater health?

    6. Use your talents

    What are the innate strengths or talents that you could be using more? Your inner genius? Are you amazing at solving problems, listening to friends or cooking healthy, wholesome food? Where can you use that talent, now?

    7. Connect with your purpose

    Some people are very clear about their purpose, others are still searching. I know this is a big one.

    Even if you aren’t clear on what your purpose is, are you living each day with purpose? On purpose? With a clear intention?  Or have you been pulled off track by distractions, expectations or life?

    8. Focus on taking care of all of you

    Get back to basics with healthy eating and living. Focus on your overall wellness. Take care of your body. Does that mean you need to exercise more? Sleep more? Mediate more often? Eat less?

    I’m a big advocate of a healthy body. While I believe this piece is important, it’s also important to note that you could work days and years on your health, nutrition, hydration, etc. But if you don’t take a step back and look at the energetic pieces of you, you’re not going to make much progress.

    9. Rediscover what you loved to do before things got so busy

    Was it hiking outdoors? Being with friends? Sitting in the library reading a good book? Doing absolutely nothing at all?

    10. Take a test

    I know this might sound odd when you’re trying to find yourself. And yes, the answers are inside of you. However, I know that soul searching can be tough work. Sometimes, it helps to get a little jump start.

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    My favorite test to help you figure out what being true to you actually looks like — The Instinctive Drives (I.D.). It identifies what you need to be at your best. Check out the test here: The Instinctive Drives (I.D.)

    It’s different to other tools I’ve tried because instead of focusing on personality or your behavior, it digs deep into the core, the innate part of you, and helps you understand what you need to thrive.

    11. Let go

    Let go of the expectations of others that aren’t serving you. Let go of the way you ‘should’ do things. Let go of who you are ‘trying’ to be and instead, try being you.

    We try so hard to please, to meet expectations, to make others happy or to fit in. Much about being true to you is about what you let go of as much as what you hold on to.

    I once read a quote that fits this sentiment perfectly:

      Take your first step

      As you might imagine, you don’t have to do all 11 of these to get back on track. Just one step in the right direction will start to lead you home.

      How do you know which one to start with? Like the magnet, see which ones ‘attract’ you. Which one of these resonated most with you? If you’re not sure, read them again, and see which one(s) have that magnetic pull. Your core self knows which one of these is the next right thing to focus on for YOU.

        The next step?

        Take a step. One step to bring you closer to you. One step to get back on track. One step towards being true to yourself.

        What is that step for you?

        Featured photo credit: finda via finda.photo

        More by this author

        Tracy Kennedy

        I'm a results-driven life coach + consultant, dedicated to helping you achieve greater levels of happiness, fulfillment + success.

        The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day The Real Reason You Feel Exhausted (And How to Be Energetic Again) How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

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        Last Updated on June 12, 2018

        Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

        Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

        A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

        You know how this looks:

        • Parents constantly comparing children.
        • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
        • Domestic violence.
        • Adultery…
        • And many others.

        For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

        Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

        Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

        This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

        In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

        If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

        How to fix a dysfunctional family

        In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

        And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

        Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

        It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

        Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

        Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

        There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

        Dysfunctional… Or just average?

        Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

        The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

        You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

        A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

        Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

        Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

        • Unrealistic expectations
        • Lack of interest and time spent together
        • Sexism
        • Utilitarianism
        • Lack of empathy
        • Unequal or unfair treatment
        • Disrespect towards boundaries
        • Control Issues
        • Jealousy
        • Verbal and physical abuse
        • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

        You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

        If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

        Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

        How to turn it around

        When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

        But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

        One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

        We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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        As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

        What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

        Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

        Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

        Correction is possible

        In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

        Verbalize it.

        All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

        Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

        This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

        But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

        So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

        Putting it to work in real life

        In real life it would be something like this:

        “OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

        Or:

        “Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

        Or:

        “Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

        As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

        This is what you have to remember:

        1-Stop.

        2-Why it’s wrong?

        3-What you need.

        And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

        It’s a family thing

        A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

        Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

        In other words, you will need cooperation…

        So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

        Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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        We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

        You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

        It’s not a free-for-all battle

        In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

        No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

        Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

        And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

        The method

        1. Drop the ego

        Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

        You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

        Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

        What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

        It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

        After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

        Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

        Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

        Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

        And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

        You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

        2. Not blame, but responsibility

        When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

        But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

        When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

        What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

        Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

        As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

        You will do something like this:

        “Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

        I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

        You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

        I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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        It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

        What happened here?

        We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

        We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

        We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

        And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

        You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

        This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

        3. Doing the work

        What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

        This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

        Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

        If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

        It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

        “When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

        I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

        But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

        You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

        Love is all you need

        You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

        That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

        And what happens if it simply is not there?

        What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

        What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

        There is only one thing you can do:

        To break away.

        Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

        There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

        “We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

        If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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        Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

        You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

        Putting distance

        So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

        What do I mean?

        Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

        Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

        Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

        Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

        They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

        Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

        I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

        I choose my peace of mind.

        And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

        Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

        Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

        How to prevent it

        There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

        • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
        • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

        Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

        You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

        Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

        Priorities and clear thought

        You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

        You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

        You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

        Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

        If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

        And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

        Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

        But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

        Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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