I guess that one of the reasons for interest in the topic ‘True Identity’ might be that there is a sense that the world, humankind, would be better served if more of us we're operating from our True Identity – being our Authentic Selves.
But how to identify this True Identity?
As a life coach (I love that word ‘life’, it covers such a broad spectrum of aspects – not business, sport, voice, relationship, but Life) - as a life coach, clients often come to me with very specific areas or goals they wish to develop or to achieve.
But before too many sessions have passed - and sometimes during the first one - we may discover that the client is more interested in finding out who they really are and what they really want. The rest of it can wait.
I feel that the journey to reveal True Identity can really begin from here.
Self Awareness is the portal through which we must pass in order to recover or to change or to develop in any way, personally or professionally.
But how to discern which is our true identity, as opposed to the view that we may hold about ourselves right now? What are we measuring ourselves against? Which mirror are we looking into? What checklist are we working from?
It is likely that we are basing our sense of Self on what or who we have been told we are, or what we’ve had reflected to us over the years, beginning from the moment of birth. We arrive. We are given a name. Soon an identity seems to be mapped out for us. This pressure may be added to by an almost subconscious effort to shape our identity to fit in with our sense of what is societally, fashionably, intellectually acceptable – even if it’s meant losing any True Self in the process. As humans, we long to fit in. As mammals, we’ve historically needed to. It is often the more self- confident, resilient and well-supported child that grows into an adult who does not struggle with this. We do not all fall into this category.
Working together, using a variety of coaching tools including deep listening, reflections and gentle questions, the client begins to find out who they truly are.
I once heard an old Quaker quote used when referring to an enlightening process, “for our comfort and discomfort”. This fits well with the level of honesty which may be required to take a good look at ourselves. After all, we’re all a mixture of dark and light.
So. Who have we been told we are – by parents, teachers, employers? Does that still feel true?
Who are we when we’re home alone and we’ve stripped off the masks and costumes we wear in order to feel safe, acceptable, or even invisible out there?
(Personally, I spent my younger adult years behaving like an extrovert – even telling people I was - but later realising I was an introvert desperately trying to fit in. Exhausting.)
We get back to basics. What characteristics do we have?
I am…. Sometimes I can be….Sometimes I can feel…I like…I don’t enjoy…I believe…I feel joy when…I feel fearful when…I know I am good at…I have a tendency to…I hope to…
From these openings, we can start to write down our values and beliefs.
Are we living a life that matches our values and beliefs? If not, what gets in the way of this?
What steps however small are we willing to take in order to overcome these barriers?
Can we risk unpopularity? Stop worrying about what others think of us? Perhaps resist the pressure to stay the same? Colleagues, family, partners – dropping old habits like people-pleasing or compliance can cause annoyance to others around us. Becoming more assertive may rock others’ boats. Saying ‘No’ considered rude. Not working unpaid overtime downright irresponsible.
And it's never too late to live life from our true identity. Leave the corporate world to become a holistic therapist. Leave an unhealthy relationship. Give up the gym membership, chuck out the protein drinks and the weights, burn your bra, throw away your make-up, your fake tan, stop worrying about teeth whitener, greying hair and wrinkles. Run barefoot in the park…