On the Art of Finding Yourself

People often say to me some version of the story that they have not found themselves yet. They are looking for their true self. They say they are seeking and striving to find and be who they really are. They say they’re not there yet, not enough yet, unfulfilled, missing something.

But intuitively I believe many of us already know (but easily forget) what is beautifully summed up in these words by Emily McDowell,

“’Finding yourself’ is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right here, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. ‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.”

Amen Emily.

This returning, it’s not hard or complex. It is so simple. It is a letting go of the mental stories for a moment – especially the ones that tell you you’re deficient and need to be found or sorted out – and resting back into the awareness that was always there beneath all thoughts. That silent unchanging space in which all stories are seen as simply that. Stories. Something made up which can easily be let go of.

When you do that – there you are, totally found, totally here, whole, alive and present. It’s a return home to yourself in the ever-living present moment.

But, if you have a normal human mind – it will continuously whisper stories to you about your deficiencies, your flaws, and how you and your life are not measuring up or missing something. It will spin you a spider web of tales about how you are incomplete, not there yet, not ok yet. It will tell you you are lost and need to seek and strive and get something in order to be found again.

Your task then, is not to ‘find yourself’ but to find out whenever you leave yourself…and get lost in those stories. Notice them, then let them go.

And then be attentive to the fact that…

You are right here, whole, and complete, connected to it all.

Life is right here, blazing before you, dazzlingly alive, radiant, mysterious.

As many times as you forget, just keep returning. Simple, simple.

And may I propose a change of focus from here?

Instead of trying to get to yourself, give yourself.

Give to the world the best of who you are in that moment, in each day, every day.

Focus on giving yourself. Give all of your love, your courage, your patience, your strength. Give life your presence, your power, your compassion. Share your gifts with the world, share your laughter, your song, your vulnerability, your beauty, your passion. Let who you are in your deepest essence flow forth into the world. We are hungry for that kind of authenticity and that kind of light in the world. Let us have you!

Keep returning to who you are when you get lost. Keep sharing who you are.

And you will feel deeply found… and so alive.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful poem of ‘paradoxical commandments’ apparently first spoken by Mother Teresa. Beautiful ponderings for sharing yourself bravely and fully with this crazy world.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

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