I was standing outside talking to a few friends when she came up and asked, “would you like to catch a movie?”
Quickly my mind started racing, I needed to come up with an excuse. It’s not that I didn’t want to hang out with her so much, I honestly just wanted to get home and relax.
“Sorry,” I said, “can’t, have groceries in the car and need to get the ice cream home.”
“What kind?” she asked.
“What?” I responded, as my brain needed a few milliseconds to come up with a flavor.
“What kind of ice cream?”
“Oh, rocky road.”
On my drive home I felt guilty, so I dropped by the store and picked up a pint of rocky road. And it occurred to me that I lied for no logical reason. I lied simply because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
In that moment a rush of memories flooded my consciousness; every time I’d ever lied to someone for no other reason than I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings because I needed them to like me.
I needed people to like me because I didn’t like myself. But I didn’t know that.
This happened about six months after my darkest moment in life, during a period which I was working hard on myself. A process in which I discovered who I really was (and wasn’t). A discovery that was painful yet the cornerstone for the immense joy that would follow.
Who Do You Think You Are?
Everyone loved me, I showed well. I was outgoing, funny, and caring on the outside. On the inside; lonely and afraid. I confused what I showed people externally to what I felt internally.
I didn’t know myself. Which means I really couldn’t know anyone else either.
To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. -William Shakespeare
To be true to others and experience meaningful relationships, you must learn to really know yourself.
What is your internal dialog about who you are? Are you living right with your intentions vs. actions? Are you the person you really think you are? How would your friends describe you? Do you believe it?
The realization that I was lying my entire life to guard other’s feelings woke me up. From that realization came the truth about who I really was. It was painful. Painful in the revelation that I’d been living a lie. I had know idea who my authentic self was.
Why Self-Discovery is Important and Scary
Self-Discovery is vital to knowing what you want. Which leads to what you need to be happy.
Ultimately the “why” of anything we do is love. We’re either lacking and looking for it, acting out in anger, or we’re giving it. Yet you we cannot give something we do not have.
You may be resisting self-discovery for a few reasons:
- You don’t realize you need it. As the saying goes; “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Most people don’t take a hard look at themselves until forced out of pain.
- You’re afraid of what you’ll find. What happens if you discover your authentic self and life still sucks? Sometimes hope is better than trying and failing. But hope is cheap, and it’s robbing you of something amazing.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell
A common mistake (in my opinion) couples make in relationships is fighting to “get back to the way things were.” That’s a limiting belief system. It can be better! It’s the same with self.
If things were so great, why did you change or allow circumstances to change who you were?
Self-discovery is about learning who you truly are, not who you were. Maybe you’ll find out that you’re not who you thought you were. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Why Self-Discovery Leads to Joy
A simple formula for happiness and joy is; live true to your values. Self-discovery leads to learning what you value most in life. Then you just need to set goals and a path in life that’s in harmony with your values.
Discovering who you really are is the first step in self-acceptance; warts and all. Self-acceptance is vital to self-love. The ability to love self allows you to freely give and accept love. Simply because you’re looking for it less externally.
And there’s no greater joy in life than giving and receiving love.
photo credit: lauren rushing