A common misconception of the process of discovering oneself is that you need to go on a search to ‘find’ yourself and a prerequisite would be that you need to scour the corners of mother earth high and low, searching for masters who will teach you how to become this new you. This strategy works, as long as what you are doing is aligned with who you are at your core, otherwise, something will give way and you will find yourself reverting back to your old ways sooner than you think. This search is telling our unconscious that, somewhere in the tapestry of this complicated universe, there exists a version of us that is the right version. However, this version is kept down a long corridor with many mazes and heavy doors that are guarded by ‘masters’ who have the key to unlock this version of ourselves. The real truth is that to find yourself, you will have to know what you are looking for, which would imply that you are currently lost and most people on any journey can tell you that this journey is never about the search for yourself, rather the search for your eternal truth.
So the search isn’t really a search, it’s actually a process of getting rid of the lies that we have started to believe in. Discovering yourself can be more about unravelling the many skins that we have learned to wear over the years than anything else. Skins that tell us who we ought to be, what we should do or where we should be. Throughout our life, people are standing at every junction handing out little labels for us to proudly wear. Labels that tell us we are the naughty one, the smart one, the pretty one, the ugly one, the friendly one, the mean one, the fat one, the thin one. There are points in our lives we are wearing so man labels, we never truly know who we are, are we good, bad or the ugly? We are standing at a cross road unsure of where to go, because we aren’t truly sure who we are, what we stand for and what our purpose is? Who would you be without those labels?
I remember a time when I was part of a personality profiling test. The team were briefed on the 4 personality types: social, analytical, leader or technical. We each wore a blank sheet of paper on our back and we went around the room etching which personality type we thought each other were. Of the dozen or so scribbles that were etched across my back, half perceived me as analytical and the other technical. This gave me an important insight; people around you are quick to define you, and they will use the label that you hand them.
At the time my job role was a senior analyst, so by that definition, I was seen as technical and analytical. However, the surprising twist came when the test generated my personality profile as a leader. How is it that my colleagues who knew me for the last few months, never saw who I was at my core? Is it that they never took the time to get to know me, or was it purely that we all place people into boxes to allow us to process this world easier and I was nothing more than the cog in the machine?
A label can be just an empty word until the environment breathes meaning into it. Imagine a child that is labelled ‘naughty’. To the child that is just a word, but as an adult, you start to treat the child as a naughty child by taking anticipated precautions. You are expecting the child to rebel, so you will use a different tone, you will use different words, and you will also see the child differently. The child starts to respond to your response to the label and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the child lives up to your expectation of being naughty by purely reflecting the impression you hold of the child in your eyes. If you are a parent, notice how your child behaves to the labels that you verbally place on your child.
There is a positive side to labels, imagine a situation where you wore the label, ‘I am the warrior’. How would you approach the situation knowing that you are a warrior, who steps up to the plate with pure courage, strength and determination? How would the words you place upon yourself change your experience and ultimately your outcome?
Here is something you might like to try for a week: Take an A4 Sheet of paper and fold it in half 3 times to divide the page into 8 equal rectangles. On one side write a positive label such as ‘leader’ and on the other side write down your definition of that label. Cut the rectangles out and each morning chooses a label that you choose to wear for the day or for a particular situation. Remember, you have the power to choose how you show up in the world