It is said that “With age, comes wisdom.” What is that wisdom, and at what cost? More importantly, how old does one have to be to obtain such wisdom? Finally, what does wisdom have to do with becoming your true self?
According to Merriam-Webster, wisdom is defined as:
a: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships – i.e. insight
b: good sense – i.e. judgment
c: generally accepted belief
d: accumulated philosophical or scientific learning – i.e. knowledge
In looking at this definition, it appears wisdom is also synonymous with becoming your true self. As you become your true self, you gain the ability to discern inner qualities and good relationships, act with good sense towards others and yourself, as well as use sound judgment. Because you’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge, you can use this in your daily life.
The road to becoming your true self is not an easy one. There are plenty of mistakes, pain, and triumphs in your life. At some point, you realize you are tired of trying to be what everyone demands of you. You are more than the roles you’ve had to play, and you’ve decided enough is enough! Once you’ve made the decision to be your true self, you realize you need to find out who that is.
Meaning of being your true or authentic self
At the beginning of our lives, we learned what we could do to get attention, approval, and emotional feedback. These were our first steps in figuring out how to act to achieve this reward from our family and friends. During our teenage years, we started to learn how to best act to show our femininity or masculinity, as well as our sexuality. As we became older, we also had to contend with expectations in a professional role, and possibly a parental role and/or a spousal role.
By the time we have enough space and time in our lives to recognize we are someone we don’t even recognize, close to 40 years has probably passed. At this point, we aren’t even sure what it means to be our true selves.
Being our authentic selves means we are owning our reality, facing our fears, and accepting and loving our imperfections without excuses. We choose to pursue our truth and wholeness to find happiness instead of just seeking immediate gratification and acceptance.
Signs of not being our authentic selves
After decades of developing habits and mindsets regarding how to “be,” it can be difficult to recognize where you are not being true to you. Some of the signs are:
- You justify your decisions.
For example, you told everyone you were going to start working out at the gym at 5:00 a.m. four days a week. Yet, every morning, you fail to get up on time. Rather than honestly stating, “Quality sleep is more important to me. I need to find a better time to go to the gym,” you give excuses: “My alarm clock didn’t go off,” “I had to work really late the night before so I overslept,” or, “I had a headache.” Take responsibility for your choices and be honest; this is wisdom.
- You hide from difficult emotions.
Oftentimes, emotional outbursts aren’t really out of anger. You are actually feeling pain, guilt, or maybe fear. If you find yourself acting out in anger when you are feeling something else, then you are hiding from yourself. You need to acknowledge the real emotions and deal with them.
- You put others before yourself.
Being selfish has a very negative connotation in our society. We tend to raise up people who sacrifice for others. The reality is there needs to be a balance. You are as important as everyone else and you need to treat yourself as such. You cannot please everyone; trying to will only result in a complete loss of yourself.
- You judge others.
It is so much easier to judge others from a distance than it is to look more closely (and possibly feel the need to get involved). Judgment gives an instant boost of your ego that you are better than someone else. The fact is, if you are constantly judging others, then you need to look deeply at yourself.
- You seek attention and gratification from others.
There are so many little ways in which a person can seek attention and approval. A comment here, a “like” here, or a post that requires others to react are all ways on social media we are seeking validation or attention.
Going out of our way to do something for someone at a cost to ourselves, performing well above necessary, or seeking help for something you could look up or do for yourself are all more ways to draw attention toward ourselves. If you find yourself doing this a lot, then you are trying to fill a need that you are choosing to be blind to. You aren’t happy with yourself and are seeking others to make you feel happy about yourself.
10 uncomfortable things that happen when you find your true self
Becoming our true self is hard work. It requires brutal honesty and stripping away the image you’ve spent decades creating. You’ve become so good at creating that image that you almost believe it yourself. Yet you find yourself unhappy, frustrated, putting off doing things you should, and coming up with excuses for not doing certain things. At some point, you realize you are what needs to change. When that journey starts, there are 10 uncomfortable things that will happen on your way to find your true self.
- You feel lost.
As stated above, you’ve spent decades creating this person you’ve become. Now you need to ask yourself questions you haven’t asked in a long time: “What are my dreams?” “What hobbies would I like to do?” “Why am I so angry?” “How did I grow so distant from my family?” “Why does going to work make me feel empty?”
- You feel angry at people and life.
You start to see things differently. Perhaps you don’t have tolerance or patience for certain behaviors from others that you used to have. You see it as a waste of your time and energy. You question things that used to be viewed as “norms” in your life. No longer do you feel obligated to do the things that you have built a pattern of doing. Someone else can do the laundry, cook dinner, pick up the kids, clean the house, do yard work, etc.
- You see going to the same social gatherings as a waste of your time.
Suddenly the gatherings you used to go to with friends or co-workers just aren’t worth the effort. You’d rather stay at home and read a book, practice a new hobby, go for a walk, or spend quality time with a close friend. You prefer doing things that help you discover more about yourself.
- It’s difficult to find that tactful honesty.
You want to express your real opinions and not hold back but you still understand that it’s not always appropriate.
- Your friends become fewer.
You start to look at your friends differently. You may see how one only uses you for their convenience, how another never listens to you, and how another just wants to go out and party all the time. No longer do you want people in your life who aren’t honest, sincere, and genuine.
- You want to know for yourself.
No longer do you just accept any answer. You want to truly understand it from your perspective. Thus you seek more knowledge and insight.
- You have to face your emotions.
Suddenly old hurts and betrayals that you thought you had dealt with come to the surface. You are surprised by the strength of the emotions. On the flip side, things which used to raise high emotions, suddenly have no effect on you. It’s as if you just don’t care anymore.
- You create your own book to live by.
No matter how long you have been doing them, you no longer wish to do things as you are “supposed to.” You feel more willing to take risks, do things more creatively, or do things differently than you have for years.
- You have to acknowledge and forgive your mistakes.
We all make mistakes. We have all hurt people we love or made choices which negatively impacted others or ourselves. Coming to terms with the fact that you are not perfect and never will be and it’s your imperfections that make you who you are is a giant step toward becoming your true self.
- Letting go of habits that make you feel safe.
Throughout our lives, we have created habits or mindsets to help us feel safe and comfortable. That is the function of our brain. Many of those habits may have been created in our childhood or young adulthood. Their purpose has long been gone, but we still do them, and unfortunately, they may be keeping us from growing.
Finally feeling that freedom to spread your wings and be your true self is both invigorating and terrifying. The journey is so worth it, but you will likely encounter these 10 uncomfortable things that happen on your way to becoming your true self. Knowing this in advance can be a source of strength that you are on your way. Be proud of yourself for taking the steps!