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Last Updated on May 5, 2020

Feeling Off Track in Life? Here’s How To Stay True To Yourself

Feeling Off Track in Life? Here’s How To Stay True To Yourself

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.

What if you’re feeling off track in life?

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; 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.

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    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.

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    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 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 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?

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    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?

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    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?

        More Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

        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 July 9, 2020

        How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want

        How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want

        Have you ever wondered what keeps you stuck in a state of passivity each day? You tend to know exactly what you need to, but you never have the energy, motivation, or willpower to do it. You know you need to learn how to stop being passive, but how do you do that?

        You are not alone. Being passive can leave you stuck in a bit of a rut that is difficult to escape from. This article will help to shine some light on your predicament by not just exploring the methods of how to stop being passive, but also the finer and very important details about what causes passive behavior, as well as an important distinction between positive and negative forms of being passive.

        Let’s dive straight in.

        What Causes Passive Behavior?

        Passive behavior is often the leading cause of people feeling stuck either at work or in their life. It occurs when your life situation is unhappy, but the only thing you “actively” do about it is complain. This, of course, doesn’t change anything. Passive behavior in this sense leaves people feeling stuck, hopeless, and miserable for the vast majority of their life.

        Passive behavior can emerge from a number of different sources, but there are three main ways that tend to be the most evident.

        Lack of Motivation

        Perhaps the most common and most obvious cause of passive behavior is the simple fact of being unmotivated. In the conventional sense, motivation gives rise to action. When you feel motivated, you go and do the things that you set out to do. When you don’t feel motivated, you don’t act.

        You might wake up one morning and be eager to get a nice, long, satisfying workout in, so you head to the gym. On another morning, or for a number of consecutive mornings, you might not feel motivated at all. As a result, you don’t get a workout done.

        Not being motivated and not always doing what you set out to do is fine. It is part of the natural ebb and flow of life and all of its contents. However, it is a myth that motivation needs to be preceded by action. The secret of successful and seemingly “always motivated” people is that they know that that is a myth. They also know that, quite often, it is usually action that leads to motivation[1].

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        Don’t believe me? You have probably experienced it many times yourself. You have forced yourself into your workout gear and then suddenly felt ready to go. You forced yourself to begin writing a report and then all of a sudden you’re in full flow. You forced yourself to meet friends just for one drink and ended up having the time of your life. Action, and then motivation.

        Motivation sometimes leads to action, but motivation only comes around every so often. However, motivation that follows action is always in your control. It may seem counterintuitive, but whenever you feel unmotivated and passive, just do something. Anything. And you will usually find that motivation and productivity follow closely behind.

        Lack of Goals

        Another common force behind passive behavior is the lack of any meaningful goals that you are striving towards. If your life consists of going through the motions, doing the same boring tasks every day, and eating the same sort of stuff, not only can it quickly begin to feel like Groundhog Day, but it can also begin to eat away at your life energy. Anyone with experience of these sorts of patterns will be able to directly relate.

        When your only goal is to make it through another day or make it to the weekend, that is a massive portion of your life that you are throwing away. Discovering and creating meaningful goals in your own life can radically change all of that.

        Ideally, because you spend large portions of your life at work, you will want to start by finding some meaningful goals within the work section of your life. You can strive towards creating something amazing and valuable for your customers or brainstorming ways that your business can become further integrated into the community. There are a number of ways to create meaningful goals at work. If you really cannot find any, then a goal might be to find a place or line of work where you can.

        Thankfully, though, life doesn’t exclusively consist of work. Meaningful goals can be spread out across all areas and interests of life. Maybe you set yourself a goal of setting up a local football team in your neighborhood. Maybe you volunteer for a charity that means a lot to you.

        Meaningful goals almost always involve other people, and this kindness, generosity, and good-will not only grows in others and your community, but it grows inside of you, too. The growth of these qualities in your life inevitably leads you out of passive behavior.

        Analysis Paralysis

        You might be shocked to realize that anything that involves analysis is one of the leading causes of passive behavior. Yet, it is this “analysis paralysis” that occurs to varying degrees in various people over time that is a big contributor to passivity and ultimately not getting what you want out of life[2].

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        Analysis paralysis is so common in the modern era due to the infinite sources of information that we have available to us via books, websites, podcasts, YouTube, etc. Because of this, a child who didn’t know any better would probably spend hours upon on hours watching YouTube videos, studying textbooks, and analyzing different expert’s opinions on how to ride a bike rather than actually just getting on one and learning through experience.

        It is common for you to slip into this same trap as the child in many other areas of life. You want all experts to agree on something before you take any action on it. You want to memorize the instructions front-to-back before you start on step one. You want a 100% guarantee that something will work from start to finish before you try it for yourself. Of course, that guarantee never arrives, and you remain in the same place.

        Forget all of that. Your brain is great for many things, but it is actually more likely to keep you stuck in the same place than it is to move you forward towards your goals. It will give you ten reasons why you shouldn’t for every one that you should. This is where listening to your intuition is important. There are countless examples of people living extraordinary lives and accomplishing truly wonderful things after they followed their intuition and ignored their “intellectual impulse” to have all of the details figured out first.

        Experience is not only the greatest teacher, it is the most direct route to experiencing, learning from and enjoying reality. Whatever goes on in your head is a projection. Whatever actually happens is reality. Spend less time reading about bikes (which is passive behaviour disguised as active behavior), and start getting on that bike for yourself.

        Is Being Passive a Bad Thing?

        As already highlighted briefly in the introduction, it is important to distinguish exactly what is meant by “passive” in this article. Here, we are talking about passivity and how it relates to things like boredom, frustration, unhappiness, feeling stuck, and all other connotations. The passivity that we are talking about is living a relatively unhappy existence and not really doing anything about it.

        Passive is not always a bad thing, though, and while the positive meanings of being passive aren’t the focus of this article, they are worth pointing out so that you don’t avoid passivity altogether.

        Passive can also relate to peace, contentment, and even things like creativity and inspiration. It is very rare for somebody who is in an active state all of the time to produce anything original and not completely burnout. Great individuals throughout history that put a lot of emphasis on stillness, reflection, and the “good” form of passivity include Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, and many, many others.

        There is an important distinction to be made between the passivity that is causing unhappiness and the passivity that is to be used in intervals to take your life to the next level. In this article though, we are focusing on the former.

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        How to Stop Being Passive

        Now that we have established some of the causes of being passive and the different faces of passivity, it is time to explore ways in which you can stop being passive (in the negative sense) and start to find effective methods of allowing more happiness into your life.

        1. Be Proactive, Not Reactive

        One of the most effective ways to stop being passive is to stop reacting to other people and situations as soon as they unfold. Your knee-jerk reaction is rarely the best course of action to take, and yet, it is a deeply-seated habit of all humans to respond angrily to anger or to see an unexpected situation as much more of an issue and struggle than it actually is.

        To stop being reactive, you can start being proactive. The best thing you can do in this sense, paradoxically, is to simply watch your reactivity as much as possible[3]. What feelings flare up and cloud your judgment in certain situations? How do you respond when things don’t go your way or to plan? The closer you can watch, and the more honest you can be, the less automatic your reactions become, and the more proactive and effective your responses to situations and people will be.

        You can also try to imagine different scenarios about how things might play out in the future. Thing about what might go right and what might go wrong so that you can anticipate and plan your action ahead of time. However, it can be difficult to predict the future, which is why I always emphasize starting with yourself.

        2. Consider the Future and Act in the Present

        Closely linked to the point above, while you can never accurately predict the future, it is always useful to give some consideration to how it might play out. What goals do you want to achieve? What circumstances do you want in your life? What obstacles might arise, and how can you either avoid them or be effective in dealing with them?

        Considering all of these questions and any others that are personal to you will give you an excellent basis for action.

        From this position, you can now focus all of your attention back into the present moment. The future is important to consider, but don’t live there because it doesn’t exist. All that exists is the present moment. You can only ever take care of the things right in front of you. Focus only on taking care of them, one thing at a time, and you will find that your entire future and life will fall perfectly into place.

        3. Address the Emotional Side of Passivity

        As we covered earlier when discussing lack of motivation and its direct influence on passivity, the reason that you are being passive is probably because you are invested in the story that you need to be motivated before you can take any action.

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        Being passive, unmotivated, uninspired, or any other great word that you want to throw an “un” in front of is often an emotional issue that needs addressing. For you, addressing the problem might simply mean taking action and letting the motivation follow. It might be attaching something emotionally rewarding (a treat of some kind) with action that you want to take that, for now, isn’t emotionally rewarding in itself.

        There is usually some sort of emotional gap that needs to be bridged before you can truly step out of being passive and step into the life that you want to live.

        Conclusion

        Hopefully, this article has managed to shine a bit more light on being passive, where it comes from, how it keeps your life stagnant, and what to do about it.

        As you already know, reading about riding a bike doesn’t teach you how to ride a bike. Even more sneakily, it is inaction disguised as action, because deep down you know you just need to do it.

        Going from passive to active living is exactly the same. You have read this article, you know what to do… now go do it!

        Your new life awaits you on the other side.

        More Tips on How to Stop Being Passive

        Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

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