After a couple of rocky years in which real life happened in the form of our home being wrecked by a water leak, my partner being out of work and a bereavement, all at the same time as establishing my business, I was pleased to turn the corner at the start of this year which I began with a feeling of renewal, optimism and energy.
This year I’ve been continuing my journey of personal and professional development along with building my daily mindfulness practise. This work has got me to a good place although it feels as if I’m standing in front of an invisible door.
Through providing authenticity coaching – in which I help clients to know themselves and be themselves – it’s crucial that I’m committed to doing my own ongoing deep inner work. Where I’ve got to is a good understanding of my human experience, so to me this means knowing myself in the sense of understanding what it means to be a human being interleaved with my own life experience of being human. The invisible door I’m talking about is the door to fully expressing my human experience.
Although it takes time, effort and sometimes facing up to uncomfortable realities, learning about yourself can be reasonably straight-forward with the right professional support. Knowing yourself is about uncovering new information about yourself and if you put in the hard work you can become self-aware. The biggest challenge for many people is to take off the mask they wear to uncover the fullest version of themselves. I’ve found that this is the hardest part of being authentic because it requires both courage and vulnerability.
My invisible door relates to fully embodying everything I’ve learned about authenticity from ancient wisdom to modern psychology and brain-science. In other words I know the theory but I still struggle to put it into practice!
A big step forward has been learning more about non-Western approaches to ‘self’ from the Eastern wisdom traditions including Buddhism, Taoism and the Chinese philosophy of Confucius. In the Eastern traditions there’s no sense of finding your ‘true self’ because this idea begs the obvious question; found by whom? The answer can only be you, so how can ‘you’ find ‘you’? It doesn’t makes sense! The Eastern approach is to think of ourselves as complex interactions of emotions, responses, desires and traits that pull us in different and contradictory directions moment by moment.
How can ‘you’ find ‘you’? It doesn’t make sense!
I’m learning that my Western thinking-and-doing mind perceives the answer to being really me as existing in the future. My mind says, “If I can just think differently or do things differently then I’ll discover my true self and live happily ever after”. Of course it doesn’t work this way, this is like a dog chasing its tail. The nub of the problem is that this means I’m not trusting my current self.
What I’ve come to realise is that I’m part of the universe and the universe is part of me. Trust in myself is the same as trust in the universe. If I don’t trust in either I’m constantly thinking about what I need to do to get to that place of trust which, being in the future, is never in the present moment.
So my invisible door is about trusting myself as I am right now. It’s trusting myself to tap into the wisdom that’s already within me, to let things be, to allow myself to evolve and to trust in myself as part of the universe. In other words to let me be me.
So my invisible door is about trusting myself as I am right now.
‘Knowing yourself and being yourself’ isn’t a destination you arrive at, it’s about who you’re being right now. It’s realising that you’ve already arrived, in fact you’ve really always been there.
It’s about knowing what it’s like to be human and being human. It’s about having the courage to take off your mask, having the vulnerability to express yourself, and living the life you want to lead rather than a life other people expect of you. It’s about growing towards the future from the person you are rather than growing towards an imagined person you want to be at some future point in time.
So this is my own journey of self-leadership and this is where I’m at right now. As I stand in front of the invisible door I realise in this moment that I’m already on the other side.
This article was first published on LinkedIn Pulse.