Do you know who you really are? There is a good chance you don’t! Who you think you are may not be who you really are.
When I was a child, if I misbehaved and seemed too full of myself, my mother would say, “Who do you think you are?” This was meant to get me back in line and put me in my place. She was trying to teach me to act the way she thought I should. Most of the time it worked, but at what cost?
Young children ARE full of themselves, as they should be! We are born knowing who we are. We are each unique — one of a kind, unlike anyone else. Loving parents who mean well often unknowingly teach their children to be less than who they are. Yes, children need discipline and structure, but they also need to be told how wonderful and special they are. They need the freedom to develop into who they were born to be. If we are raised on a steady diet of criticism and comparison rather than praise, we forget who we are. We then become who others think we should be rather than our authentic self. This is how the false or codependent self is born.
In trying to stay safe, our true self goes into hiding. Over time, we lose touch with the authentic part of us and believe the false self is who we really are. Through repetition we develop patterns that become so automatic that we don’t question them. Even when others stop telling us who we are, the words take root and grow as we talk to ourselves in the same way we were spoken to. This is confirmed in a scripture from the Bible. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
We continue to repeat these childhood patterns until we become aware of them and change them, which for some can be a long, arduous process. This can influence us well beyond childhood. Not being authentic also affects our adult relationships. We end up trying to please our partner just as we tried to please our parents. Dave and Diane are a couple struggling with this very issue.
Dave is having a difficult time forgiving himself for past mistakes. Although we all have done things that we regret, we must understand this is how we learn and grow. In order to live a happy, successful life, we need to forgive ourselves for past mistakes, let them go and move forward. Dave, however, rejects himself and is afraid of feeling pain from the past. His greatest fear is that Diane will reject him, so he focuses on giving her what he thinks she wants even if it’s not good for him. This is a sign of codependency. Dave is so much in his head trying to figure things out, that he is not present in their relationship. What Diane actually wants is for Dave to use his heart to feel what she needs rather that use his head to think about what she needs. She want to see and feel Dave’s authentic self. Unfortunately, Diane is having a relationship with Dave’s false self, and she’s losing interest.
If we start out being our false self in a relationship, it’s much harder to then be authentic as the relationship progresses. What if Diane doesn’t like Dave’s authentic self? This fear drives Dave deeper into his false self, and so the vicious cycle continues!
The greatest gift we can give our partner is our true self. Unless we are open, present and connected to ourselves, we cannot connect to others in a healthy way. Although Dave puts great effort into trying to make Diane happy, because he is stuck in the past repeating old patterns, he cannot be truly present and give Diane what she wants most. She sees glimpses of Dave’s authentic self and loves that part of him. However, his false self is not very attractive to her. In trying to be someone other than who he really is, Dave is pushing Diane away. If only he could love and accept his authentic self and see what others see, he would be able to have the relationship he desires.
Being known and loved for who you really are is what matters. If you didn’t receive love and acceptance in the way you needed it as a child, you don’t know how to love yourself. You search for it in a relationship, but it’s not possible to get love in this way. You can certainly have a codependent relationship that is based on need rather than love. However, it won’t be the enduring love that most people seek. When you reject yourself because you don’t feel good enough, you also reject the love others try to give you. It’s ironic that the part you cannot accept about yourself is really your false self and not who you really are. So letting go of the unhealthy false self that you are rejecting is actually a good thing!
The truth is we are all special, talented, beautiful and amazing! Just as watering a flower helps it to grow, our true self needs to be nurtured until it flourishes. Otherwise our greatness will lie dormant. Sadly many people live lives that are unfulfilled by not realizing their true potential.
Listen to your inner dialogue. The way you talk to yourself now reflects what you heard about yourself when you were a child. You were programmed to be the way others needed you to be. Now you need to reprogram your internal voice to reflect who you really are. Affirmations are a great place to begin. Start with statements that express what you want to be true, such as:
“I love and accept myself unconditionally.”
“I have the courage to be my true self.”
“I am learning to nurture myself.”
“I know that past mistakes are opportunities for growth.”
At first you may not believe the positive thoughts. After all these years of telling yourself you’re not good enough, why would your inner child suddenly trust you? But with patience and practice, you have the power to turn things around.
You become who you think you are. That’s how powerful your thoughts are. The good news is that your positive thoughts are even more powerful than your negative thoughts! It’s up to you to tap into that strong, resilient part of you that has always been there, even when it didn’t feel safe to come out.
Thinking isn’t knowing. Your mind thinks, but your heart knows. Your journey is to discover your inner truth and free the part of you that has been playing it safe. In order to change and grow you must take risks. The more you open up to your authentic self, the more rewarding your life will be. Don’t be afraid of what you’ll find! You are so much more than you can imagine. If you stay on the path, you will eventually live your life not as who you think you are, but as the person you know you are.
With love and continued support, Jackie