7 Ways to Stay True to Yourself
April 21, 2021
There are times in life we may feel we are not being true to who we really are, to our authentic selves. This feeling deep in our gut that we are living someone else’s vision, perhaps someone else’s life, gnaws away at us. Our friends, even those who love us, may feel content about our lives. But we don’t! We have sold out. We have given up. We feel deeply unhappy and beyond frustrated. We are living, as some have said, in the land of smoldering discontent. But we have lived in this barren land without hope for as long as we can remember. Is there any alternative? Is there a way out?
Sadly, so many live these lives of quiet desperation — to use another phrase. How did we get here? It may have come from listening to the expectations of our parents or our friends. Perhaps in school we were told we were good at math, even though we also were good at music. But with math you can become an engineer which may be perceived as a better and safer career track than music. But just because you were good at math does not mean you love being an engineer. You listened to the advice of others and so began your journey into the land of frustration.
Deep down, this is more than just using your gifts and talents in the most rewarding way. It is living in light of your soul. You have not been true to what you believe you were put on this earth to do. You feel there is some purpose God or the universe has for you, and you are not living this out. That thought is killing you!
So how do you live in light of your soul, your true inner self, the inner essence of who you truly are?
1. Recognize that you have a soul.
All humans have a soul, an inner essence that makes them different than anyone else. Within your soul is your purpose, what you were made to do. Those things that light you up, fill you with hope, that give your life meaning. When you think, “Why was I put on earth?”, your soul — your inner self — provides the clues to that answer.
2. Examine your fundamental beliefs.
We live in a fast-paced, busy world, where few people have the time or make the time to reflect. What’s the point? Life is so busy and competitive. Get a job, hopefully a good one, work your way up the corporate ladder; hopefully have a family life and some pleasurable hobbies and interests. Isn’t that all there is to life? The short answer is no. To find the beginnings of the answer as to who you are, consider your fundamental beliefs. If you were raised in a religious, spiritual or philosophical tradition, think about what elements of those traditions do you really believe in and think are very important. You may not buy into everything in that tradition, but some elements may really resonate with you. For instance, in the Christian tradition, you may really be moved by the concept of servant leadership or doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, the so-called Golden Rule.
3. Reflect on your values.
Our beliefs often inform and influence our values, but it is worth writing down what we feel are our values. Write down a few words that describe the values you most believe in. For instance, for me two of my highest values are integrity and humility.
4. Consider to what degree you are living in harmony with those fundamental beliefs and values.
When you think of your life, the career decisions you have made, the decisions you have made in your personal and family life, how much is that congruent with who you really are? Are you living your own true authentic life, or are you living someone else’s life?
5. Visualize what your life would look like if it was in harmony with your fundamental beliefs and values.
What would your career look like if it was in complete harmony with what makes you, you, your soul? Perhaps you would no longer refer to your career as a career, but as a calling. What do you feel God, or the universe, is calling you to? What is your purpose in life? What do you want your legacy to be?
6. Ask some trusted friends and family members who they see as the real you.
These have to be people that are for you and do not have any agenda other than to help you live in light of who you truly are. Perhaps even ask them, “Why was I put on this earth?” You may find someone says something that rings true, or sparks in you an idea or thought that could lead you in a positive direction.
7. Take one small step to live in light of the real you today.
Finding your purpose is no easy task. But once you have a clearer idea of your fundamental beliefs and values, what lights you up, your almost God-given or universe-given passions, then it is easier to take the next step. What is one step you can take today to live more in line with who you are? It could be thinking of your work differently. Perhaps you will think of your family and friends differently, and how you interact with them. Living on purpose can cause us to treat others differently. If you find your values are kindness and generosity, for instance, if you consciously try to live today like that; that can have a significant effect on how you treat others at work and at home.
Life is a journey. But as you take one step at a time, one day at a time, with purposeful steps to live in light of your fundamental beliefs and values, your true self, your inner soul, your life may well look quite different. Days of purposeful living add up to weeks and months even years of purposeful living. Over time, your life will change, grow and evolve and your purpose – which is deeply in line with your fundamental beliefs and values, your soul — will come. It will not be easy to plan; life rarely is. Trust the process, trust yourself and you can indeed live in light of your soul. That leads to a life of joy and fulfillment.
- Examine your fundamental beliefs. Write down elements of them that are central to what you believe you and life is all about.
- Consider your values. Write down the values that you believe are the core of who you are, no more than three to five.
- Take one small step today to live in light of the real you. Take one step forward this day that is line with your fundamental beliefs and values, that would begin to make your soul soar.