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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.