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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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