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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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