I remember how frustrating it was when I would read books or hear speakers talk about finding your ‘authentic self.’ Fantastic, I thought. It sounds wonderful and I am sure I would like to meet this wonderful authentic self, but how do you do that?
Their talking about it was at the same time inspiring and infuriating. Was I only going to hear the great stories about what happens when you get there or was someone going to tell me how to do it? And how in the world would I know that I had found my authentic self if I did? Would a bell go off? Would angels break into a heavenly chorus? I was simultaneously pulled toward this magical pursuit and repelled by the completely uncharted nature of the journey. And of course… I felt like I was quite behind the 8-ball since clearly everyone I was listening to or reading had already gotten ‘there,’ and I hate to be left behind.
Ego, ego, ego…
My ego was struggling, there was a tug-o-war raging inside of me, and I really just wanted to know where the store was where I could go and purchase the ‘authentic self chip’ and install it. Isn’t that how it worked?
What I realized over time is that I didn’t actually need to acquire the chip because it was already installed. What I really needed to do was devote myself to removing all the debris that had piled on top of it and was keeping it from operating properly. It was like the chip was trying to boot up but kept getting stuck because the system needed to be cleaned out.
We all have this. I have often joked with my coaching clients that what I really am is a sophisticated Debris Removal System. If we never moved our lawns, they would get overgrown. If we never cleaned our gutters, they would get clogged with leaves. If we never weeded the garden, the weeds would take over and swallow up whatever we had planted.
Why do we believe that our human emotional system could just keep absorbing the harshness of this world and the complexities of this life without maintenance? Or perhaps we have never thought about it or never got a manual about how to do it?
When I trained to become a coach, I learned from some magnificent teachers and mentors just how powerful and important the process of self-inquiry was. Done well and done regularly, it is like pressing the self-cleaning button on your oven.
Here are some of the questions that I return to again and again:
- Who am I
- Where am I in my life?
- What does it mean to be me at this moment?
- What patterns exist in the way I live my life that pulls me away from what I love and what lights me up?
- When do I feel most joyful and at ease?
- Who do I feel most connected to and why?
- When do I feel most insecure and small? What causes me to feel this way?
I recently interviewed two other amazing coaches. Each of them shared their personal journey of removing the debris that was interfering with the operation of their authentic selves. Sometimes the journey is catalyzed by a big event that propels us into growth; other times it happens incrementally, over time. But just like with the Velveteen Rabbit, it happens over time, the more we choose the path of self-love.
To listen to our conversation, click here.
To download our How to Get Started Guide, click here.