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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

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        Tracy Kennedy

        Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

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        Last Updated on March 30, 2020

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

        You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

        This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

        According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

        Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

        There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

        How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

        When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

        Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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        1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

        One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

        The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

        Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

        2. Be Honest

        A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

        If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

        On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

        Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

        3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

        Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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        If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

        4. Succeed at Something

        When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

        Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

        5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

        Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

        Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

        If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

        If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

        Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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        6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

        Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

        You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

        On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

        You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

        7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

        Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

        Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

        Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

        When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

        Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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        In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

        Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

        It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

        Final Thoughts

        When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

        The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

        Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

        Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

        Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

        More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

        Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
        [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
        [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
        [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
        [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
        [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
        [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
        [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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