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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

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        Tracy Kennedy

        Tracy is Lifehack's Personal Development Expert

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        Last Updated on October 16, 2018

        How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

        How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

        She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

        That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

        At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

        If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

        Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

        How irrational fears impact your life

        The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

        Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

        • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
        • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
        • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
        • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
        • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
        • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

        Why bother to fight the fear

        Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

        I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

        All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

        Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

        If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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        The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

        I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

        Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

        Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

        When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

        • New hobbies
        • New travels
        • New opportunities
        • More success
        • Financially more secure
        • Happier
        • Healthier
        • Confident

        The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

        How to fight your irrational fears

        In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

        Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

        Why did this happen?

        For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

        I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

        When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

        Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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        Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

        The tool kit

        From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

        I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

        1. Why I’m awesome

        Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

        2. Draw out your emotions

        Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

        I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

        3. Acknowledge that you need to change

        It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

        Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

        Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

        There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

        4. Choose your words carefully.

        I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

        Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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        5. Believe that you have the control power

        The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

        If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

        6. Put up physical reminders

        Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

        For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

        Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

        So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

        What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

        7. Physical supports

        Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

        Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

        8. Don’t go it alone

        The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

        However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

        It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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        9. Get physical

        One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

        Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

        When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

        If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

        The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

        A little fear can be good

        As someone famous once says:

        “It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

        Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

        And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

        How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

        So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

        Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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