BEING YOU


From the moment we are born, we will most likely have been moulded to please others. Whether it comes from our family of origin, our carers or our culture,  we often learn to put a mask on and be an actress in the movie that is our life.

Unfortunately, being someone else will hardly leave us feeling fulfilled. Fulfilment requires us to dig deep to uncover and remember a version of self that is unique, authentic and deeply expressive. If you’ve veered off the path of your authenticity, this process will likely lead you through a fiery transformation, only to course-correct to a version of your life that was inevitably designed and destined for you.

The thing with this is that to live a life of freedom, you will have to commit to exploring the dark shadows and crevices that reside within, moving towards the behaviours that may be holding you in patterns of destruction.

With commitment, vulnerability, and curiosity, you will uncover layers of yourself so as to strip bare to allow the various masks you’ve worn, to drop away.

“The power you have is to be the best version of yourself you can be; so that you can create a better world.”

— Ashley Rickards

What does it mean to ‘be yourself?’

 It’s sometimes easier to explain something by identifying what it IS NOT. That said, here’s a list of what being yourself isn’t:

BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF IS NOT ABOUT pleasing others, an obligation; forcing yourself to do something that’s out of alignment for you, guilting yourself into action, judging others and comparing  yourself, self-victimisation, vanity metrics.

Being true to yourself means that you live a life of congruency, in complete integrity with your beliefs, values, and, most of all, with what feels right in your heart. When there is an alignment with your inner self  (emotions, states, and desires) and outer self (behaviours, communication,  and relationships), you align yourself with the most authentic version of yourself - your HIGHER SELF.

Have you ever felt like your behaviour and the way that you held yourself varied depending on who is around you and where you are?

We tend to shape-shift depending on the people we surround ourselves with.  Being dishonest is one of the most common mistakes we make in life that keeps the best version of ourselves at bay.

“Every decision you make reflects your evaluation of who you are.”

— Marianne Williamson

It takes a long time to realise that the external world is a projection of what is happening internally. Since the external world is a holographic reflection of our insides, it can give us a lot of information about ourselves when we take the time to observe with curiosity.

For example, if you dislike your job, it could be a sign that you don’t recognise your natural skills and abilities. That you are unable to see what you are capable of, and what comes most naturally for you, and you therefore settle for jobs that you dislike because you don't think you can do any better. It’s almost like you are creating your misery.

“You don’t see the world as it is, you see it according to who you are.”

— Stephen Covey

CONTEMPLATION:

Take a moment to list some of the things that you dislike in your environment. That could be the way that your romantic partner treats you,  the way that your family makes you feel about yourself or your professional life.

If you could change something about your life, what would it be?

 

Next, let’s explore the world of REACTIVITY and all the events and experiences that make you reactive.

When we learn what triggers reactivity, we shine a light on the parts of our psyche that are often in the shadows in an attempt to keep them hidden.

Instead of running from them, we can use these triggers to highlight the aspects of our shadow-self. Questions that I ask my clients when delving into shadow work:

  1. Do you know the underlying motivations that drive your actions?  What are your intentions?

  2. Are there parts of yourself that you deny or suppress because you’re ashamed or even afraid of them?

  3. Do you know your unique mission in life?

For many, the answers to these questions are mixed. You’re probably quite confident in your key personality traits, and you can easily list the roles you play in your public and private life.

Yet you know that there’s more to you, hiding under the surface—and if you could just bring these parts into the light, you would have access to so much more power, joy, and purpose.

The secret to discovering these parts lies in the Shadow, which brings me to Shadow-work, which isn’t as dark and mysterious as it sounds.

Shadow-Work is about looking at what seems out of balance within our lives so that we can bring it back to balance or at least in harmony with what is.

 

a little bit about the brain:

Your limbic system, located in the temporal lobe of your brain, plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions such as hormone levels, stress responses, memory, breathing, and heart rate. It serves as the hub for processing emotions like fear and love. The amygdala, a key component of the limbic system, integrates inputs from other brain regions, including memory and attention, influencing feelings such as depression, fear, anger, happiness, joy, and anxiety.

 

TRIGGERS 

Learning what animates you (aka what triggers you) will help you to move from being reactive to being responsive; intentionally choosing what and how you respond to others.  If you don't know your triggers; you're a ticking time bomb. This reaction is a response in the brain which is commonly called an ‘Amygdala hijack’.  This is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

An Amygdala Hijack is an immediate and overwhelming emotional response out of proportion to the stimulus because it has triggered a more significant emotional threat. The amygdala is the part of our brain that handles emotions. During an Amygdala Hijack, the amygdala "hijacks" or shuts down the neo-cortex.

Are there some subjects that you avoid discussing with others because you know they animate you too much? Do you sometimes find yourself easily offended by others?

When we are triggered by something external to us, we tend to launch into one of three reactions.

Fight; Take Flight; or Freeze.

  1. Fight - This is where we project our emotions onto others, often becoming angry or placing blame for what we're experiencing. By blaming others for our state of mind and situation, we inadvertently give away our power to those we project onto. When I grant you power, I grant you the ability to influence my life. Understanding this dynamic helps us realize why we react so frequently to events—we allow them to control us. By cultivating emotional control, we create more space between stimuli and our reactions, enabling us to respond intentionally to situations in alignment with our truth, rather than reacting based on past traumas and wounds.

  2. Take Flight - This is essentially avoidance—trying to escape, numb, or ignore a situation because it's too painful, uncomfortable, or confrontational. From a neuro-chemical perspective, when you experience fight or flight, norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) floods your system, triggering rapid hormonal changes. This response impacts not only your thoughts and emotions but also induces physical changes, gearing you up for action—whether to flee, hide, or fight. The surge of energy you feel manifests as sensations such as heat, tingling, increased heart rate, and sweaty palms. Norepinephrine acts as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, primarily stored in nerve cells of the sympathetic nervous system, with some stored in adrenal tissue above the kidneys.

  3. Freeze is the reaction that happens when you do nothing. You can’t find your voice, or take action on anything.

So how do we witness, honour and work with our triggers?

First, recognize that you can only change your behaviour, mindset, and communication style. You cannot control other people's behaviour or thoughts. Decide now to take ownership of your challenges without blaming others or external factors.

Secondly, practice mindfulness of your behaviour and thoughts, particularly when you find yourself projecting emotions onto others. Begin by listing your triggers. For instance, examples may include politics, injustice, self-centred individuals, incompetence, etc. Be specific, using examples to illustrate each trigger. All triggers ultimately originate from a primal fear of safety. By exploring the underlying reasons for feeling unsafe, you can effectively and profoundly address them.


Questions can include:
  1. What experiences trigger my fear?

  2. What thoughts trigger my fear?

  3. What are the feelings that come over me when I’m in fear?

  4. How does my fear affect my behaviour?

  5. I tend to react emotionally to the following:

Once you’ve become clear about the above, try to understand why you get so reactive to those situations or subjects.

 

 

Now, make a plan to respond differently in the future when those situations or subjects arise. How will you better handle your emotions in these situations?

“The feeling of being offended is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues.”

— Bryant McGill

By courageously understanding yourself deeply, you tame long-standing shadows. It's challenging, but facing your dark side brings it to light, allowing you to shine brighter and heal deep wounds.

Taking responsibility for your happiness starts by recognising your responsibility in your life

> this inevitably means that you stop giving your power to others. When you blame others, you do not own your responsibility in your life. For example, if you continuously blame external factors for the life that you live, you are giving your powers away. You’re willing to put your life into the hands of others. You are allowing others to dictate your behaviour and mindset.

If you want to be unapologetically YOU, you have to take ownership of your life. Begin by recognizing when you're blaming others for your situation, then shift your mindset to take responsibility for what's yours. Reclaim your power and choose to live the life you desire.

When you can maintain a healthy mindset and break the habit of reacting rather than responding, you cultivate more equanimity. Each of us has a unique power, and our feelings about it determine our sense of empowerment. Accepting, loving, and intentionally channeling this power allows us to experience life, love, play, and joy more deeply and connectedly.

It’s equanimity at its most potent.

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