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How to Embrace Your True Self in a World of Fakers

How to Embrace Your True Self in a World of Fakers

Please call me by my true names,

so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,

so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Do you have a nickname? Even if no one has used it in years, did you have a pet name of some kind when you were a child?

My grandfather called me “Stevie” until the day he died. (He’s the only one who could get away with it.) I was “Ralph” to my Aunt Missy, and “Butt-Butt” to my Uncle Tiger (his real name is David). “Stinky” is what my wife calls me most often. Those nicknames are a glimpse into the loving relationships I have with those closest to me: the names my inner circle use(d) to remind me they’re quite fond of me.

While I love nicknames, there are other names I’ve been called through the years that haven’t felt so good. I’ve been called, “sissy” and “fag,” “sinner” and “broken.” But those aren’t nearly as painful as the names I’ve called myself; things like “crazy” and “weak” and many that are much, much worse.

Embracing Your True Self

What about you? Have people labeled you and boxed you in, when all you’ve ever wanted to do is be free? What would it feel like to live the life you choose, rather than the life others think you should live? How long have you been performing for the approval of others? What would it feel like to take off the mask and stop pretending?

There are all sorts of labels people try to slap on us, and boxes we put ourselves in. But it’s who we are beneath the noise, chatter, and unrealistic expectations of other people that really counts.

Consider this wisdom from Thomas Merton:

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.This is the person that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God—because Truth, Light—knows nothing about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy.My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love— outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.

Merton goes on to say...

We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face.But we cannot make these choices with impunity.Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them.If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it and that confusion reigns.
– abridged and adapted from New Seeds of Contemplation
How to Embrace Your True Self in a World of Fakers

The journey toward authenticity (or the “true self”) begins with self-awareness.

What is self-awareness? The dictionary defines self-awareness as “knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character.” When you’re self-aware, you have an accurate and clear understanding of your personality, strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. You know what makes you tick. Self-awareness also includes an understanding of how others perceive you. Lacking self-awareness can lead to a very confusing and frustrating life!

Embracing self-awareness can empower you to be your true self.

Your level of self-awareness can influence your relationships, career, and happiness:

  • Self-awareness is necessary for taking control of your life. The direction of your life is determined by your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and reactions. Self-awareness is the principle way of understanding and influencing these things.
    • Self-awareness highlights faulty beliefs and emotional reactions that stand in your way and gives you the power to make adjustments.
  • Self-awareness illuminates the real reasons for past failures and challenges. We often dismiss our failures as bad luck or a lack of proper timing. But it’s also possible that we failed to perceive the situation, others, or ourselves accurately. It’s much easier to see the reason behind relationship, work, and other struggles when we can look at ourselves clearly.
    • Do you consistently struggle at work or in your relationships? What can you do better?
    • Those who lack self-awareness are puzzled by their negative outcomes or blame others exclusively.
  • Self-awareness is a critical quality for leaders. One study concluded that a high degree of self-awareness was the best predictor of success for executives.
    • Executives that have an understanding of their weaknesses are able to build a team composed of members that fill those weaknesses.
    • A lack of self-awareness puts a limit on your leadership abilities.
  • Self-awareness is the foundation for personal progress. Without it, any personal development efforts will be severely hampered.
    • Self-awareness is the cornerstone of success and self-improvement. Without self-awareness, the knowledge you possess can’t be applied effectively. It’s necessary to understand your beliefs, habits, strengths, and weaknesses to make a personal change. Avoid assuming that you’re self-aware. Give it some time and thought.

Building greater self-awareness won’t happen overnight, but it can be developed. You can start building your self-awareness, and reaping the benefits, starting today!

Download my Daily Authenticity Checklist:

Use these questions daily to ensure you are living an authentic life. Think of them as diagnostic questions to ensure you are embracing your true self every single day.

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Jesus was a master at practicing empathy. Here’s why.

Jesus was a master at practicing empathy. Here's why.

I was a pastor when my world fell apart. Lying in an ICU hospital bed, looking up at the ceiling, numb from the waist down, it seemed pretty clear to me that I only had a couple of choices: get out of the hospital and figure out how to heal, or leave the hospital, and make damn well sure I died the next time.

Thankfully, I chose to live, which meant everything had to change.

Over the past seven years, since the darkest day of my life, I’ve deconstructed and reconstructed my faith and deconstructed it some more. I nearly walked away from Christianity altogether for a while, but the same Voice that called to me in the hospital room, saying, “I’m not finished with you yet,”  continued to whisper hope, safety, and belonging through my dark night of the soul.

So I held on. Scared. Uncertain. Wobbly. I had faith, but it was full of holes.

I'm honored to share the rest of this story on Josh Casey's, "Dust Makers" blog. Just click here to read the rest of this story.

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DIGNITY: 10 Ways to Build Your Self-Esteem

Self-worth course

The Importance of Dignity

Several months ago, I sent out a 1-question poll to about a thousand people, asking for the 1 thing you’d like to learn from me in 2019. The overwhelming response was in the areas of self-esteem and self-compassion. As a result, I’m thrilled to launch a new, FREE Masterclass, “DIGNITY: 10 Ways to Build Your Self-Esteem.”

So why is it so important to have positive self-esteem? You might think you’ve gotten by pretty well so far, and that’s great, you probably have. But is ‘getting by’ enough? Don’t you want to do more with your life? Don’t you want to be your best possible you?

Positive self-worth is the key to contentment – it gets you off the treadmill of striving just to get that one thing that will make you happy, whether it’s a new car, a bigger house, or promotion. Self-worth starts with clarity and honesty about yourself and where you are in the world.

Having a healthy sense of self-worth allows you to step up and take control of what you want out of life. It gives you the confidence to look at opportunities that otherwise you might pass by, believing you aren’t good enough to be successful at them. It gives you the self-assuredness to stand up for yourself and set appropriate boundaries.

A sense of dignity and self-worth is grounded in an honest appraisal and acceptance of your strengths and weaknesses. That is true self-knowledge which allows you to take advantage of your strengths and to be objective about things you could improve.

Studies have shown that if you feel good about yourself and believe you deserve to be happy or wealthy or have good relationships, you will attract those things into your life. It is a myth that some people are “born lucky.” People who expect to be happy, whose positive mindset leads them to see opportunities for happiness, will be happier.

If you’re ready to sign up for this free 10-part Masterclass, just click here.

PREVIEW of Lesson 2

Introduction

This Masterclass is a guide to encourage and support you to take control of your self-esteem, honor your self-worth and reclaim your dignity.

No one else in the history of the universe has been just like you. You’re the best example of yourself that there is, or ever has been. And you have a responsibility to be kind to yourself, acknowledge and celebrate the individual qualities that make you up.

Dignity is not something people talk about that much – but it’s the foundation and signal to the world of self-worth. Saying someone has dignity tells you there’s something special about them – they’re not defined by other people, they know and value themselves.

And it stands out.

There’s a quiet shine to dignity – it’s not the brash shininess of arrogance or the heavy smallness of self-doubt. Dignity is calm and confident – dignity says this person knows their inner self and they stand proud.

Dignity is a powerful concept that lifts ‘self-esteem’ above just feeling good about yourself. Dignity honors your value as a unique human being – it implies honesty and self-awareness as well as positivity. And increasing your self-knowledge and self-valuation is the theme of this book.

We will look at the causes of low self-worth and the pressures that hold us back from living a positive life. We'll discover ten steps you can take right now to change this. From challenging your Inner Critic, through journaling, and onto alternative approaches like meditation, self-hypnosis, and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Congratulations! Just by reading this blog post, you’ve already taken the first step to a happier life. You’re on your way!