Seeking our authentic self

When you don’t like yourself for who you are, what’s the point of being liked for who you’re not.

Seeking our authentic self, is a quest for truth, as we begin to acquire the art of freer thinking, it makes it easier to drop the social mask we wear, and begin to reveal who we truly are. In society, hypocrisy is everywhere, we constantly present a false image, just to feel accepted. This causes emotional turbulence, as we never quite manage to accept ourselves as we really are, but with effort and discipline we can eventually stop desiring acceptance. Then we can begin to express ourselves without having to ask permission from others. We can learn to take control of our life, as the more disengaged from social acceptance we become, the more freedom we find. Making it easier to turn our backs to the crowd, as our way of thinking slowly stops being influenced by it. We begin to operate out of consciousness and not from suppression.

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It is a practice, a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” (Brene Brown)

Discovering our authentic self.

seeking authentic self
Seeking our authentic self

Often, it’s not our authentic self we are looking at in the present moment, it’s a version of our past self. As we become an adult in society, we’re pretty much self sufficient, it’s easier to accept the default position. It requires no additional education, no additional development of skills, or any attempt to push through our comfort zone. We except the default status-quo position, which most people are only too happy to embrace, we are constantly changing, though not aware of these changes. Every minute, hour, day and year we’re shifting, growing, thriving, declining and getting older.

Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of actions, are functioning inside our body at any given moment, and we are completely unaware of them. At a deep level, we begin to realize there’s no such thing as constant “SELF” at all. No man ever steps into the same river twice for it is not the same river and he is not the same man (Heraclitus) It’s similar to hiking in the mountains, we can’t resist looking back to appreciate the view, and to marvel at just how far we have traveled. If we could return to the same place again, it may look the same, but time has changed, places have changed, along with the people. We encounter new things, read books, take courses and travel to new places, everything is always in a state of flux.

Our authentic self is a goal that’s not often realized.

Trying to be our authentic self, is a process, we have to push ourselves to grow every day. If we were our “authentic self” right now, we would be completely confident, assertive, disciplined and internally grounded in our values. With zero fears and no negative thoughts of any kind, as healthy as we can possibly be, open and completely comfortable with our sexuality. It doesn’t mean being overweight without a medical reason, doing drugs or any other chemical dependence. Hence the body we are meant to have, if we live to our optimum state of being.  As we progress, we realize there are many behaviours that we need to change, becoming more open minded, and willing to consider any idea or point of view. Always taking the high road rather than the low road in whatever we’re doing. This also applies to every relationship and interaction around us.

In every way we try to become the master of our life. Within society, we often have the impression that we’re free, in reality we’re a puppet, that is being manipulated by external forces. Trying to be authentic at a shallow level means, trying to “be ourselves” that “self” hopefully, is to be the best, we can possibly be. Part of my definition of authenticity, is trying to squeeze the most out of life. I have, and will make many mistakes in an effort to turn dreams into reality. Ultimately I may fail, but I will know, that I tried to the best of my ability. You may ask as I once did, “what’s the point to any of this” why don’t I just get drunk, except things as they are, enjoy myself and forget the whole concept of self-actualization.

Is being authentic a luxury that’s just too hard to follow.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was proposed in a paper, a theory of Human motivation in 1943. It’s depicted as a pyramid from base level needs, to top level needs. It has 5 levels, which are, Physiological needs, Safety, love/belonging, esteem and at the top of the pyramid self-actualization. There is actually one level above this, “self-transcendence” but that’s beyond my scope at the moment. I paraphrase Maslow here, but these are my believes also. Self actualization is actually not a luxury, but a requirement of our psyche. once we get the basics in our life down, we’re not going to just sit there. What’s going to happen, is our mind is going to slowly start to rot and our soul is going to rot from the inside out because we know that we’re destined for something much greater.

(Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder) Almost everything all external expectations all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. There is no reason not to follow your heart. While talking about death, this quote also defines what we should be seeking in life, when we are trying to be our authentic self.

 

Trying to be authentic
The right place to be sometimes

 

 

Make a choice to take Risks.

Calculating risks.

Make a choice to take risks
Taking Risks, doesn’t always have to be dramatic.

Taking calculated risks sharpens our confidence and wellbeing as we identify ourselves as being stronger. When it comes to taking risks, there’s something to be said for trusting our gut, but too often we confuse gut instinct with fear. We assume, that discomfort means our gut is telling us not to proceed. So rather than step outside our comfort zone, we avoid the risks that can propel us forward. We assume if something feels scary, then it must be really risky, but that’s not an accurate way to measure risk.

Our level of fear, usually has nothing to do with the actual level of risk we face. Most people fear public speaking, being embarrassed, or being laughed at, but none of these instances are risky. We sign up for a get rich quick scheme using our hard earned cash, but we often don’t see this as a risk. On the other hand, we don’t think twice about getting into a car, yet car crashes kill people every day.

Risk muscle.

Mentally strong people don’t fear taking calculated risks. We know taking the right risks, can be the difference between living an ordinary life and living an extraordinary life. Everyone has a risk muscle, we keep it in shape by trying new things. If we don’t, it atrophies and we’re no longer able to take risks. How many of the wonderful things that happened to me, did I actually have anything to do with? Not very many it seems.

Luckily, some of the best things that happen in our lives, are not governed by our influence at all, they just happen. Most of the time, it would be far better, to get out of our own way and not interfere at all. We can choose to take risks and not wait until we become ill and feel our life force diminishing. We will always have regrets, it’s the regret stage we go through, in which we visit the life we wish we had lived.

Risks with our heart. 

It’s a pity that being who we truly are requires so much courage, but it does. Being who we are, whoever that is, sometimes cannot even be articulated at first, not even to ourselves. All we know is there is a yearning within that is not being fulfilled by the life we are currently living. The mind knows no answers. The heart knows no questions. It is the heart that guides us to joy, not the mind. Having the courage to follow it, is where true happiness lies. As the heart grows, life brings more joy and peace our way. A happy life wants us as much as we want it. (paraphrased from a book by Bronnie Ware. The top five regrets of the dying)

What if risks.  

Why do we live a life, that is often based on a fear of what if’s? What if I can’t take the consequences? What if I’m too frightened, what if I end up alone, what if this costs me too much money. Well what if ? We have to ask ourselves, how many of our greatest fears ever actually happened. There is no safe path to take, we have to take risks going forwards, whether we want to or not. We can’t allow ourselves to look backwards for guidance, because there is nothing of us back there. The reason we are where we are now, is because that part of our life is over. We can’t look “back” to the past when we are trying to “chart” the new. We risk seeing an image of ourselves, that doesn’t exist anymore, we are not that person now.

20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain) 

I think the heart does carry us to joy and not our thinking process, if we are willing to follow it. Often, there is an excitement felt deep inside, similar to the feeling we get when listening to music, that we enjoy. Living within this and similar feelings, often makes taking risks easier. The answer, isn’t always dramatic risk taking that drives us forward, often it’s baby steps to where we want to go. While being aware of the direction in which our heart, is trying to guide us.                                                                                        

Make a choice to take risks
Risks within our thoughts being the weakest link in our life.

                                                                               

 

Grey hiker hernias-time out.

Grey hiker hernias.

Grey hiker hernias-time out
Technical things

I mentioned a few blogs back, that I needed to have surgery on a couple of inguinal hernias. It’s forty eight hours after the event, and now I’m home feeling bruised and battered. Never one to do anything by half measures, there were three that needed repairing not the original two, as seen on the scan. I have learned a few things again, that I think may be worth passing on. Laparoscopic surgery, is marvelous for sure, but you get the impression that it’s so scientific, that it’s tantamount to having a tooth out. Bullshit, ask my nuts, which are twice the size, and looking very colorful, mainly black and blue, with a tinge of mauve. When you cough or sneeze hold on to everything. Yeh right, two hernias on one side, one on the other, a wound at the navel and one a bit lower.

They never mentioned peeing barb wire for a while either and the big daddy of all, taking a number two as they say in polite speak. Making it sound like, if a child can poo, then so can you, poetry in the motion. Don’t strain though, or everything could come undone, being constipated from the anesthetic doesn’t help of course. I’m not going into all the gory details, but I can report it went well. It felt like I had won the lottery, I hadn’t of course but I’m sure that’s how it would feel. Fingers crossed, if all goes well, in around six weeks I should be back on the trail. No gung-ho this time though, if I want to keep on hiking, I’m going to have to learn not to push things to the limit anymore.

Lessons learned ?

Lessons to learn, I’m 65 years old and I’m still trying to learn new things every day. The question was asked by the surgeon, how I managed to get three hernias. I fudged the answer a bit, not wanting to appear a reckless old person with no common sense. Building our house a few years ago on my own, trying to save money, lifting things that even two people would of struggled with. Using a large jack hammer to drill into the rock to secure the poles of the house, a lesson learned, not to be so bloody stupid again.

Going into the hospital system here as a public patient took some time, and after being misdiagnosed twice, it was about eight months before I finally had surgery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’m grateful to the interesting people I met on the way, most of them did the best they possibly could.

Responsibility.

The sign in the waiting area at the hospital, didn’t instill me with a great deal of confidence. It’s your responsibility to ask questions. Is that the right medication your giving me, and by the way, is it also the correct dose? Are you sure you know what your doing with that knife so close to my nuts? My young surgeon arrived with his backpack on, he asked me why I looked so apprehensive. “I haven’t lost anyone on a Wednesday for ages, so cheer up” Different, but still very talented, what would “I” know anyway? The paperwork as well, pages of it, yes, I do know that I might not wake up in this world again. I’m very aware that many things can go wrong but I’m not sure I want to know them all, it’s covering their backs, but it’s making my sphincter muscle quiver.

Being grateful.

I have mentioned a few times now, about being grateful for what we have. It might be an age thing, I’m not sure, but I can say, it makes a tremendous difference to my state of well being. Sharing a room at the hospital and listening to people’s stories, is sobering, to say the least. A thought came to me, we are all different, but exactly the same in certain situations. When we have common feelings of fear and anxiousness, we seem to be able to just tell it how it is, open up, with no fluff involved. Gratitude is the sweetest thing in a seeker’s life-in all human life. If there is gratitude in your heart, then there will be tremendous sweetness in your eyes. (Sri Chinmoy)

The guy in the next bed, with a shoulder reconstruction and the lady over the way with the hip replacement, and me with my hernias. Being older, was no coincidence I guess, our bodies breaking down after years of hard work. Smiles of quiet understanding, as we were sharing the realization of our vulnerability together. I was grateful again, as I realized that my hiking had prevented me from having to take any medications, to sustain my health. A caveat here, young people work very hard as well. My youngest son often reminds me “the old man has never had it so good” I had better mention that just in case.

More lessons learned.

I did some reading as well of course. Choose yourself  (James Altucher) I get where he’s coming from and agree with a lot of the things he says. He makes the point. This is a new phase in history where art, science, business and spirit will join together both externally and internally. New ideas are more important than people, and everyone will have to choose happiness for themselves. It sounds a bit like a mental spring cleaning. At a thought level, think about the people you enjoy being with, read the books that make you happy. And go to events that make you laugh or fall in love. And try to deal with people who will love you back, and who want you to win, as much as they do.

Thinking about all these new ideas we are all going to need in the future. He suggests that every day, we write down at least ten ideas, and to also develop a taste for things outside of our comfort zone. Now this next idea, isn’t his, and I’m not sure if it’s mine either. New ideas are found when two old ideas strike together and the splinters spin off into a new idea. I’m curious to know where that leaves us, if we don’t have any idea to start with. Well that’s taken my mind off a couple of things for a while. I may have a sleep and see if I can dream up a few more ideas, note book at the ready. That’s another idea in his book, or was it my idea, I can’t remember now.

 

Grey hiker hernias- time out
Good ideas that’s all it takes ?

Getting grit when you need it.

Grit….what is it?

Getting grit
When everything seems lost

Bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, gameness, valor, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, determination, resolution, stamina, doggedness, tenacity. The list goes on, grit also means perseverance, endurance and passion, for a long term goal. In other words, gritty people believe, everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. People with grit, deal with the trials of life and problems, as challenges and potential defeat, as a call to action. In some instances, grit can be seen in another way, as it also takes grit to withdraw or give up. When situations are blatantly not working or detrimental to our health.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strived valiantly, who errs, who comes again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. ( Teddy Roosevelt)

Getting grit.

So how do we get grit? Firstly we have to believe in the goal we are working towards. Our values and passions have to be aligned, with what, we’re trying to achieve. If these things are in place, grit comes naturally, it’s grit that gets us up in the morning, determined to go for that run. Even if it is freezing cold and we would much rather be in bed. Make sure that grit doesn’t trip you up though, if we run that extra mile and bugger our knee up, that’s not grit, that’s stupidity.  The one thing that can not be taken from a man (or woman) is the power to determine his attitude in any given situation. (Victor Frankl)  We all possess the power of choice, and the perspective from which we view things in our life.

We can look through lenses of pessimism or optimism, hopefulness or despair, gratitude or grievance, possibility or resignation, goals or obstacles, it’s really, our choice. Many of us do our best, to try to minimize and even eliminate risks in our live. The cultivation of grit, sometimes, requires the willingness to engage in practices that may be outside our comfort zone. Conscious and responsible risk taking, is an essential aspect of this process. Living on the edge is an acquired taste, and if done skillfully, can mean the difference between success and failure.

More grit.

Grit, is consistency in doing better today, than yesterday. If something is frustrating, our natural tendency is, to give up. But we have to do things over and over again for them to feel natural, and grit is what keeps pushing us forward. Grit, can be learned, it’s a matter of facing fears, following through, keeping the vision in sight and never giving up. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. (Doctor Angela Duckworth in her Ted talk)     

(Invictus by W. E. Henley) Out of the night that covers me. Black as the Pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever gods may be. For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance. I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance.My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate. How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Getting grit when you need it
Another Version of grit

 

Finding the pathway less traveled.

Pathway.

Seeking a pathway less traveled
An unknown path

A pathway is something we can walk along or a route which we can take. This is the physical description of a pathway as we understand it, most of the time though, it’s thought of in a metaphysical sense. It’s a particular course of action on the way to achieving something. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ( Ralph Waldo Emerson) I never know if the path I’m walking on is the “right” one and I often find myself at a crossroads of indecision. At times, I want to retrace my steps to the “safe” well trodden path. Fearing the new path may ultimately lead me somewhere I don’t want to go.

But the path I least want to travel, is the well trodden one, because I’ve walked that path a hundred times before. I know each twist and turn, every pothole and obstacle that may trip me. There are no surprises on this path, it’s boring and predictable. The more I get to know myself, the more I realize, boring and predictable are two things I never want to be. And here’s the other thing, how can I know if the path I’m taking, is somewhere I want to go, when I can’t be sure of what’s at the end, until I get there.

Two pathways.

In life of course, there are only ever two options on the pathway, the known and the unknown. If we take the known path, we have to accept that we may never feel the thrill of the extraordinary, or the adrenaline rush we get when we take a risk and it pays off. Equally, we may never feel the crushing disappointment of a failed risk. If we take the unknown path, we must accept that risks are part of life. They may not always pay off, but at least we will never look back and wonder, what if ?                   

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth. So a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. ( Henry David Thoreau)

Walking on a known pathway is existentially soothing. The best way to understand this, is to go off the path every once in awhile. Go on a hike for two or three days where you won’t walk on a pathway, but walk in a more chaotic landscape. Going off this path can be fearful, because we don’t have the self-assurance we’re used to, which metaphorically mirrors our own often, chaotic mental landscape. But we need to break away from the weeds of life, and look for the roses on another pathway.

Seeking a pathway less traveled
Stones to trip us

Pathway less traveled.

Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone even if it means being uncomfortable. The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades bumps and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where your character is truly tested And have the courage to accept that you’re not perfect nothing is and no one is and that’s OK. (Katie Couric) 

The pathway less traveled, is invariably a difficult choice, because it usually involves giving more of ourselves into the world. Also it can be a challenging pathway. But it’s full of rewards that can provide happiness and fulfillment. There are many decisions to be made in life, from all of them we can learn to develop a strong character. We are constantly being asked to choose between the pathways. If we can say in our heart, we have a tough decision to make, we can almost guarantee, we’re being asked to choose which path to take.

Pathway inspiration.

For me the most important aspect of personal development, is realizing the value in being on the pathway less traveled. Being open to the exciting experiences traveling this pathway might provide and finding out who I am in the process. Of course things won’t always work for me, I will invariably have failures, but if I’m happy and fulfilled how do I define success?  I’ve always sort of felt a little bit like I was on the road less traveled. So if I come across a story about a person who broke the rules, or did things differently and succeeded, that’s really inspiring to me (Laura Bell Bundy)…….It’s also inspiring to this grey hiker as well. 

Seeking the pathway less traveled
The comfortable choice.

 

Seeking the author of our own narrative.

Seeking the author of our own narrative.

Seeking our narrative
Narrative programmed for discontentment

Narrative psychology is a perspective within psychology concerned with the storied nature of human conduct. How we deal with experience by observing stories and listening to the stories of others. The stories and the meanings of these stories rather than logical argument. This is how people construct stories to deal with their experiences. Discontentment, is unfortunately, the default story in our consumption driven society. Even though the majority of us are aware of this, the emotional drivers that keep us in this narrative, are extremely powerful. If we interpret the events of our life within this narrative, we will never see ourselves as good enough. This makes it harder for us when we need a more logical perspective within this narrative.

Life is a progression from one event to the next, no matter how trivial those events might be. In any twenty four hour period we can move from heartbreak, to great joy and back again. Even that should be a comfort to us, as we realize that negative feelings can change very quickly. The truth is, very few of us have been taught how to create sustainable happiness, inner prosperity, or problem solving mechanisms. What’s also true, is that the skills to avoid this trap are learnable.

Learning to be the author of our own narrative.

Telling our story, helps us to make sense of our lives. As we begin to examine what’s happened to, and through us. Why it happened and how it happened. This often leads to having more confidence and a better understanding of self. We seek meaning in our life through multiple personal narratives, such as parenthood, love, family, friendship and leisure. It’s within each of these personal narratives that stories are formed. It’s these stories that advertently, or inadvertently change our behavior. Our inner stories can become cycles of rumination, where we can’t look at our own narrative objectively. We are always interpreting and trying to make sense of the world around us, weaving it into our own personal story.

The general rule in a story is, that often people don’t want to change, it takes something to make it happen. Comfort and order is our default position, even if we secretly want something better. Ambition can create fear, but it can also create a better narrative, as we move towards trying to achieve our goals, as a result, life no longer feels so meaningless. Suddenly, there’s a risk in our story and a question inside us, will we make it or not?  Now we have a different reason to get out of bed in the morning, we have a new narrative to live for.

Our personal narrative.

Each of us is a constantly unfolding story, a character in a novel that no one else has the ability to write. How we interpret that story is extremely important, if we don’t want to end up feeling lonely, unworthy, unloved and with poor health. Obviously, we want to create a positive self narrative, with internalized good values. Having a goal is one way forward, it can change aspects of our story and rub against less positive stories. But trying to change our internal story, is possibly more important. Allowing ourselves to realize, all the positive aspects within our personal narrative, also having gratitude for the many good things we have. Which often takes a less emotional and more logical mental stance, not a “yeah I know” but more an  “Ah ha, I get it” moment.  

Without discomfort or an incident, we find it hard to leave our comfort zone and enter into a different story. We need to lose our job, or be forced to make a radical change of some sort. Buy a wedding ring, sell a house, have a child, or be the hero in our own Hollywood movie for a while. If a story doesn’t have negative turns, it’s not an interesting story. We don’t give up when we encounter a setback, because we know, that every good story has both positive and negative turns. If we can’t see that life is truly remarkable and exciting, we can become unwilling victims, rather than grateful participants. The trick is, to become aware that life is precious and exciting. Our lenses may need a little more polishing, as we move into this narrative.

Please leave your comments below I would love hear what you think.      

seeking our narrative
No programmers in this narrative