You often hear people say, “be true to yourself” or “‘just be you.” Many legendary quotes speak to this concept, yet we can often feel like we’re off track when it comes to being our true selves.
My primary goal as a coach and consultant is to help people get back on track—to live a life of greater happiness, fulfillment, and success.
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 yourself.
There’s 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. Ultimately, your body, mind, and spirit all yearn to get back to this “home.”
Much of our stress, angst, and 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, society, and species 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 the newest article or study, the advice is often different and conflicting!
How in the world are we supposed to get back on track when all of this is happening?
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..
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. That pull is having widespread and significant consequences.
Let’s think of “being true to self” as a magnet. Your core self is compelled to get back “home,” 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 and 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.
The Warning Signs
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, etc.
- 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 that it wants to go home.
But most of the time, we ignore these signs. We keep pushing them down or forcing our way through. If we get a headache, we take a painkiller; 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.
However, 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.
How to Be True to Yourself 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 10 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, otop of things, under control, in the zone.
Think about times in your life when you felt happy, fulfilled, and successful. Write them down.
Now, think about what it was 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?
Maybe you had a clear picture, a plan, a purpose, or challenge?
2. Think About What Makes You Happy
What makes you feel joy or laugh? What do you love to do?
Are you doing those things? 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?
Maybe it’s spending time with friends and family, or connecting with your spirituality through meditation. Maybe it’s a sense of adventure when traveling or the calmness that comes when you’re cozied up with a good book.
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?
Can you stop working extra hours at work in order to have more time with your kids? Can you plan a weekly date night with your spouse?
If you need help finding your values, check out this article.
6. Use Your Talents
What are the innate strengths or talents that you could be using more? 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, while 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? Or do you get 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, and take care of your body.
Does that mean you need to exercise more? Sleep more? Mediate more often?
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?
Try making more time for these things now.
10. Let Go
Let go of the expectations of others and 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.
The Bottom Line
As you might imagine, you don’t have to do all 10 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.
More Tips to Help You Get Back on Track
- How to Get Your Life Back on Track When Things Are Out of Control
- How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life
- Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!
Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com
|||^||American Psychological Association: Decreases in psychological well-being among American adolescents after 2012 and links to screen time during the rise of smartphone technology.|
|||^||The American Institute of Stress: Stress Research|
|||^||Jessica DW: How to Find Your Life Purpose in 4 Easy Steps|