Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley said:
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
But, what part of the self are we wanting to improve when we set out to do so?
What is the Self?
If we consider that there are multiple parts of the self -- the private persona or personality, and the public image we present to others; we know that we can turn them on and off at different times depending on what’s going on, and how we’re feeling about ourselves, which we may be confused or conflicted about.
From a psychological perspective there is the “I,” the “subjective knower” and the “me,” which is “the object that is known.” That means the “knower” needs to continue knowing him or herself because we are constantly changing, and it’s important to make sure we are honoring those changes and that we are being true to ourselves as we’re evolving. (Learn more in Know Your Atman (Self)).
Basically, you need to be very aware of the self that you are right now and decide if who you are presently is your most authentic self. This type of awareness is called mindfulness, which is being in the present moment with total awareness.
How Mindfulness Can Help
Each of us has this inherent quality, but we don’t necessarily use it, and it’s when we’re not being true to ourselves that we need it the most. When we have a heightened awareness of who we are, we can be that much more conscious of making sure that our sense of self is a clear one.
That means we are willing to be very honest with ourselves so that, if or when, we’re about to slip into being someone we’re not -- which can be anything from people pleasing, or being afraid to show our true self for fear of not being loved -- we immediately note it and bring our focus and awareness right back to the self that is most real and sincere.
We don’t realize how often we slip out of present moment awareness of the authentic self, and then, before we know it, we can feel frustrated and even depleted. That’s because we’ve been presenting a less genuine part of ourselves to others, as if we’re playing a role, which can happen when we feel self-conscious or insecure. By practicing mindfulness consistently, you will become much more cognizant of when you’re about to throw your authentic self under the bus, and immediately stop yourself from doing it. (Learn more in 8 In-the-Moment Techniques to Cultivate Your Mindfulness Practice.)
Advocate for Yourself
A good way to catch yourself is to notice whenever you’re feeling a sense of uncertainty, doubt, or fear, which is always an indicator that we might be susceptible to hiding or concealing our authentic self. Immediately say something silently to yourself, such as:
- “I am enough”
- “I don’t need to pretend”
- "There’s nothing for me to fear”
- “It’s okay to be who I really am”
- “I am worthy of love”
These are just a few examples of how to advocate for yourself if, even for a moment, you forget that the only self that should be front and center is your authentic self.
Reach Your Authentic Self Through Meditation
Here is a meditation for connecting to your most authentic self, which will always keep you in the present moment as who you truly are:
- Sit somewhere quiet.
- Close your eyes.
- Feel yourself where you are right now.
- Invite yourself to be present in your meditation.
- Be aware of any sounds, feelings, thoughts or sensations in your body, and simply observe them.
- Tell yourself it’s okay to let everything and everyone go.
- Put your focus and awareness onto your breath.
- Take 3 deep breaths in, and 3 deep breaths out.
- If your mind begins to wander at any time, put your focus and awareness onto your breath, which will always bring you back to the present moment.
- Ask silently, “Who am I?”
- Say silently, “Let my true self reveal who I am.”
- Say silently, “Let me realize love, acceptance and non-judgment.”
- When you’re ready, bring your focus and awareness back to your body and gently open your eyes.
- Be aware that you are still in the moment of “now” and that there is no need to rush out of it.
- Take a few extra minutes to transition out of your meditation.
The definition of authentic is “genuine” and “real,” or in other words, the combination of all your true qualities. I like to describe authenticity as “living your truth in the present moment.”
When you live your truth in the present moment, you are living as authentically as you possibly can, and you’re worth living your life this way. Anything other than authentic is fake.