Well, this got me thinking. What does it actually mean to 'be myself'? What does authentic look like?
I spent last week hanging out with the delightful Robert Holden on his Coaching Happiness Course in London, and one of the things we explored in depth was the distinction between the self that we construct (our persona, or what Robert calls our ‘learned self’) and the self that simply is (some might call that the unconditioned self, the true self, or the real you).
Just about every self development course I know has something to say about these two sides of a human being - the real and the constructed. In fact, the appeal of self-development is often the promise that we will discover our authentic selves. But what does that mean?
Too often it means nothing more than trying to improve on ourselves by ridding ourselves of an ego. This is based on the idea that the authentic self is the ego-less self. Now that may be true on some level, but I am not at all sure I need to get rid of the ego before I can experience who I am.
In order to know the real me, I think I just need to relax and stop thinking I need to be different. After all, most of us have had a lot of self-improvement done, but would we know our authentic self if it turned up in the mirror one morning? As long as we keep thinking that the authentic self is perfect (and we may get there one day) and the ego-self is bad and needs to be got rid of - we are in a terrible, terrible bind that prevents us from recognizing who we are at all.
What if the real you doesn’t need any more self improvement in order to turn up? What if rather we just need to relax and be more accepting of all the sides of ourselves in order to experience who we are, really, right here and right now.
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