It's important to be yourself. We're all told that, and it's true—we know the damage done by being false to ourselves and to others. But I'd like to suggest that to "be yourself" goes much deeper. Most people don't know how much wisdom and power resides in the self, which is not the everyday self that gets mixed up with all the business of life, but a deeper self, which I call, for simplicity's sake, the true self.
The true self isn't a familiar term to most people, although it is close to what religion calls your soul, the purest part of yourself. But religion depends upon faith, and that's not the issue here. You can actually test if you have such a true self. How? You know that sugar is sweet because you can taste it. Likewise, the true self has certain qualities that belong to it the way sweetness belongs to sugar. If you can experience these qualities, repeat them, learn to cultivate them and finally make them a natural part of yourself, the true self has come to life.
The trick is distinguishing what is your true self and what is not. If we had a switch that could turn off the everyday self and turn on the true self, matters would be much simpler. But human nature is divided. There are moments when you feel secure, accepted, peaceful and certain. At those moments, you are experiencing the true self. At other moments, you experience the opposite, and then you are in the grip of the everyday self, or the ego-self. The trouble is that both sides are convincing. When you feel overwhelmed by stress, crisis, doubts and insecurity, the true self might as well not exist. You are experiencing a different reality colored by the state of your mind.
At those dark, tough moments, try to get some outside perspective about what is happening. The qualities of the everyday self and the true self are actually very different:
1. The true self is certain and clear about things. The everyday self gets influenced by countless outside influences, leading to confusion.
2. The true self is stable. The everyday self shifts constantly.
3. The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth. The everyday self is driven by the ego, the unending demands of "I, me, mine."
4. The true self is at peace. The everyday self is easily agitated and disturbed.
5. The true self is love. The everyday self, lacking love, seeks it from outside sources.
Next: How to let your true self guide you
Look at the qualities of the true self: self-reliant, evolutionary, loving, creative, knowing, accepting and peaceful. Whenever anyone is in crisis, whether the problem is a troubled marriage or difficulties at work or over money, they will make the best decisions if they utilize these qualities.
Sadly, we are more likely to be driven by selfishness, panic, uncertainty, impulsiveness, survival instincts and other qualities associated with the ego-self. That's how society trained us. We measure our worth by our achievements and possession. Money and status feed the ego, and society rewards those who play the game of getting and spending with skill and drive.
But look at the faulty choices millions of people make. They choose material rewards in the hope that money can buy happiness, or at least all the nice trappings of a happy life. They plunge into careers that offer success but end up with little inner fulfillment. Doesn't it make sense instead that the foundation for every choice should be the true self? The true self understands what you really want and what you really need to be joyful. It creates a much stronger, more expansive foundation for your life than any the ego-self can provide, since that is rooted in fear and insecurity.
Once you begin to recognize and encourage the qualities of the true self, your life will begin to change. You'll make better choices. You'll expand your awareness. You'll discover and encourage your purpose. You'll challenge yourself to meet new goals.
The greatest spiritual secret in the world is that every problem has a spiritual solution, not because every prayer is answered by a higher power, but because the true self, once discovered, is the source of creativity, intelligence and personal growth. No external solution has such power. The true self is the basis for being deeply optimistic about how life turns out and who you really are, behind the screen of doubt and confusion. The path to it isn't simply inspiring; it's the source of solutions that emerge from within.