Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finding your self

Finding yourself is an enlightening experience. You become self-sufficient and do things for others without expectations of something in return. You are no longer needy and become utterly grateful for all the things people have done for you in the past. Finding yourself is a time of harmony because you develop that philosophy or belief system that will carry you throughout the rest of your life. When you love yourself and who you are, you will savor and enjoy both life's pain and pleasures.
How do you know you have found yourself? When you are able to help others find themselves. Finding yourself is not easy. If you have never felt connected to who you are, and you want to find whatever makes you you,being yourself will be hard. The first step is always the hardest, but after that hill, you will be smooth sailing to discovering who you are. Make a goal for something you want to achieve whether being in a play or the allstar of a football team or even just saying something to brighten someone's day
Create your own life's life timeline. Write down all of your major goals in your life that you feel you want to achieve. In turn, write down the events in your life that have already happened that you believe have affected you and have made you who you are now. This isn't an exercise in wallowing but one about clarification and identification of issues that might be hampering your present potential and the blossoming of your true sense of self.
o Spend a little time writing with clarity about the past in your timeline. As much as where you're headed is important, so is making peace with the past. A timeline is an incredibly objective method for marking down past occurrences in your life that you consider to have been major. You can look at them as formation blocks and as changing experiences along your timeline without imbuing them with too much emotion (as would occur within a diary account). Keep it simple, real and condensed to the major effect or lesson learned from each past incident.
o When analyzing negative past experiences, look to the positive learning message in it and don't dwell on the mistakes or the negatives. Everyone has these blips in their timeline but pretending they are either worse than they were or non-existent won't do you any favors. Instead, recognize that if it had not been for those past experiences you would not be where or who you are today.
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Prepare to recommence with a clean slate. Develop your own moral conduct and practice sticking to it. Remove vice from your life; vices are any actions or habits that curtail your true self and involve escaping having to think about the harder questions and finding your true sense of self. Smoking, over-eating, and addictive-drinking are examples of lapses or habits that will prevent you from functioning at your peak while letting you "off the hook" of the hard internal analysis as to why you use these crutches instead of finding better ways to brighten your existence. This may take some major rehabilitation for some individuals but putting it into the too-hard basket won't make it go away. Remember, you can't drive your life forward if you are always gazing through your rear-view mirror!

Let go of the need to be loved by all and accept that some people still think you stink. The reality of life is that whatever you decide about forging ahead in a different way that is more focused on the person you see yourself as, some people won't be prepared to see you in a different or more forgiving light. Yet, it's important to forget about what everyone else thinks because you cannot please everyone. And while you might not want to disappoint the people close to you, they should want you to be happy. As long as you continue to exist to fulfill other people's ideas of who you should be, you'll never know your true talents, aptly summed up by Raymond Hull who once said: "He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away."
o Realize that some people are jealous, afraid, or overwhelmed when a person changes their usual habits and becomes more enlightened. It's a threat of changing relationship patterns and it can sometimes cause them to have to face their own foibles that they've been trying to escape. Give these people space and compassion, and they may come around in time. If they don't, leave them be; you don't need them to shore up your sense of self.
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Learn to rely on yourself. At the heart of finding yourself is believing and relying on yourself. If you don't have a solid foundational sense of your self, you will be inclined to listen to what others have to say all the time and to be swayed by their insistence on what is wrong, right, and appropriate. When the self sense of others envelops your own self sense, you're caught up in the maze of otherness and you're not likely to find yourself any time soon.
o If you have been victimized in the past, confront the issues created for you. They're not going to go away on their own account and they are probably coloring your approach to daily life now, causing you to live up to other people's expectations and not your own.
o Start trusting your own judgment and decision-making processes. Sure, you're going to make mistakes from time to time but so does everyone else and it's through mistakes that you will find yourself growing, learning, and reaching into your real sense of self.
o Start taking responsibility for budgeting, household matters, and planning about where you want to be in a few years time. People who lack a sense of self tend to dispense with the "details" of life with a carefree attitude that things will all sort out. But things don't sort themselves out and not taking an interest in serious planning for your future is akin to sticking your head in the sand and letting life carry you along wherever it will. Taking responsibility pulls you back from the precipice and lets you be self-reliant and self-determined, no longer carried along by the waves of fate.
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Sort out your career path. If you're meandering all over the place looking for the right "fit", chances are that you're not content within and are using the job-changing as an excuse for not fully realizing your true aptitudes. Finding yourself is in part about self-recognition, knowing what you're truly good at and knowing how to make the most of the talents you have. Along the way, money and prestige tend to override aptitude and can detour you from making the right choice for you.
o Spend some time free-associating. Think about what you like and don't like and think beyond those things to associated ideas that simply occur as you're working through the likes and dislikes. Keep a record of these things. Then, come back to the career question and look at the free associations. What type of career seems to gel most with the things that excited, moved, and really energized you from the free-association exercise? As Alain de Botton says, this exercise is one in looking for "beeps of joy" amid the cacophony of must-dos, shoulds, and expectations.[1]
o Bear in mind however, that work may not be where your "calling" is. If that is the case, you'll need to work out a work-life balance that lets you pursue your "true self" more outside the confines of the workplace, even if this means less hours and less income. And less income means facing the means to give you that freedom through better planning, budgeting, and acceptance of a frugal way of living. It is all possible, especially if it's in the pursuit of finding and sustaining your true sense of self.
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Immerse yourself in solitude. Give yourself some time and space to get away from the expectations, the conversations, the noise, the media, and the pressure. Take some time each day to go for a long walk and think. Plant yourself on a park bench and look. Take a long, thoughtful road trip. Whatever you do, move away from anything that distracts you from contemplating your life and where you want it to go. In solitude, you should feel independent and self-sufficient, not lonely, needy or afraid. If the banter of co-workers, parents, friends, or strangers is getting you down, solitude can restore your sense of balance and inner calm, reminding you that you have a trajectory in life mapped out and that you're marching to it, not to the worries, fears, and hearsay of other people.
o Every person needs time out, whether you're an introvert or extrovert, single or in a relationship, young or old. Solitude is time for rejuvenation and self-talk, for utter peace and for realizing that purposeful "aloneness" is not a bad place to be but rather, a liberating part of your overall existence.
Ask yourself every question in the book. Ask yourself the questions that are difficult, that dare to look at the big pictures, such as:
o "If I had all the resources in the world - if I didn't need to make money - what would I be doing with my day to day life and why?" Perhaps you'd be painting, or writing, or farming, or exploring the Amazon rain forest. Don't hold back.
o "What do I want to look back on in my life and say that I never regretted?" Would you regret never having traveled abroad? Would you regret never having asked that person out, even if it meant risking rejection? Would you regret not spending enough time with your family when you could? This question can be particularly difficult.
o "If I had to choose three words to describe the kind of person I'd love to be, what would those words be?" Adventurous? Loving? Open? Honest? Hilarious? Optimistic? Realistic? Motivated? Resilient? Don't be afraid to pick up a thesaurus. Don't be afraid to choose words that are considered negative because that proves you're a whole and not a lopsided amassing of only those parts you'd like to be known for. Sometimes your traits that your (or others) don't like become useful only inemergency situations (like being bossy) or are valuable to the job you're meant to perform (like being nitpicking). If you do have a truly negative trait, acknowledging it openly can give you the impetus to work on redirecting that energy to something positive. Exercising compensates for many bad habits and there are hobbies for almost every vice. Even pole dancing is becoming a hobby! Don't wash your clothes much? Try camping. Maybe you'll like it?
o "Who am I?" This question is not static and should be one you continue to ask yourself throughout your life. A healthy person continues to reinvent themselves through life; by asking this question, it's updates your understanding and acceptance of personal change. And instead of answering who you think you ought to be, keep it focused on who you actually are, because in all likelihood that's a very good answer, warts and all.
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Keep a written record of your answers to the series of questions in the former step. Beyond your time spent in solitude (something that's important to indulge in regularly), it's easy for these purpose-focused thoughts to slip to the back of your mind and be forgotten. If you have them written down, then every time you reflect, you can review your notes and take it a step further, instead of answering the same questions all over again. Keep them in a notebook that's both easy to access and update wherever you happen to be; it will be a source of sustaining you and by which you can continue to measure your growth through life.
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Act upon your newly discovered knowledge. Do the things that you want to do! Pick up those watercolors. Write a short story. Plan a trip to Mombasa, Mt Kenya, a walk at Nairobi Safari Walk. Have dinner with a family member. Start cracking jokes. Open up. Tell the truth. Whatever it is that you've decided you want to be or do, start being and doing it now.
o You may shake your head and come up with excuses such as "no time", "no money", "family responsibilities", etc. Instead of using these as excuses, start planning around the realities in your life. You can free up time, find money, and get a break from duties if you make time how to plan and pluck up the courage to ask for these things; sometimes, the real you is too afraid to face the practicalities because it'd mean facing up to what you've limited yourself by. Start planning what you really want to do and investigating what needs to be done to get you to that point instead of flinging final excuses at them that stop the desired activities and achievements dead in their tracks.
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Be ready for dead ends. Finding yourself is a journey, not a destination. A lot of it is trial and error. That's the price you pay in return for the satisfaction you receive: More often than not, you hit a bump in the road, and sometimes you fall flat on your face. Be prepared to understand and accept that this is a part of the process, and commit to getting right back up and starting over. It's not going to be easy – it never has been for anybody – but if you learn to see that as a chance to prove how much you want to find yourself, then you'll find fulfillment and security in your pursuit. When you are yourself, everyone will respect you more and treat you kindly. Best of all, you will always feel good about yourself and this will reflect out onto others, making them feel even more certain about your sense of self.
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Serve others. Mahatma Gandhi once said that "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others". All introspection and no reaching out to others can cause you to navel-gaze and shut yourself off from others. Service to other people and to the community is the ultimate way to find purpose and a sense of your place in the world. When you get to see how hard life can be for those in greater need than you, it's often a wake-up call that puts your own worries, concerns, and petty issues into perspective. It helps you to see what you do have and the opportunities you've been able to seize through life. That can fuel a great sense of self because suddenly everything can fall into place for you and you realize what matters most. Try it. You'll like it.

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