Actually, before you answer that question, let me ask you another one…do you really know who you are?
You see, in order to determine your best course of action at any point in time, you need to have a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, your authentic self.
This might sound a bit woo-woo to those who work predominantly in left-brain logic, but the fact is most people go through life on a kind of automatic pilot.
Don’t get me wrong; we start out well intentioned. But all too often we wake up one morning, blissfully unaware of how we ended up on our current path. And we start to wonder…am I living my true purpose, or do I simply exist according to the expectations of others?
Are we carving out a life that best fits us, or are we trying to squeeze into a life that’s entirely the wrong fit?
Who am I?
We’ve all chuckled at the scene in Zoolander where Derek asks his puddle reflection, “Who am I?” But the fact that this ridiculously good-looking male model is attempting to connect with himself at a deeper level is something to be respected.
It’s easy to look outwards and judge our life on the basis of what others perceive us to be. Or worse…judging others without any idea of their authentic story.
But how often do we take the time to genuinely gaze into the depths of our own self and acknowledge the truth of who we are and the journey we’re embarking on in this lifetime?
I know…woo-woo. But you can’t really talk about investment psychology without getting a little ethereal. And if you find this topic confronting, it might be because you need to really sit with the question for a while.
We are born into this world as far more than a piece of mouldable clay, waiting to be shaped by the people and experiences we encounter.
Of course those people and experiences help the process along. But often we rely far too much on others to tell us who we are, based on our interactions with them.
In reality though, no one else can possibly know who we are on any meaningful level. Only we can know that for sure. And even then…well, many of us struggle with self-identity for our entire lives.
What do you tell yourself about yourself?
Stay with me as we venture down this rabbit hole into the respective inner workings of our psyches.
When you become consciously aware of your inner dialogue, by actually listening to that voice in your head and how it responds to different situations – particularly those you find confronting or uncomfortable – you might be surprised at what you learn.
Often we constantly and consistently tell ourselves that which has been communicated to us by the role models and peers we interact with from early childhood.
More frequently than we care to admit, a lot of that dialogue is quite negative in nature. If you stop and think about it, how many occasions can you remember where someone gave you a lovely compliment? Truth…how many?
Now, how many times can you remember someone making you feel less than worthy, or ridiculed, belittled, betrayed or shamed in some way?
Not surprisingly, some of the most resounding impacts on our sense of self, which can see us deviate off course into tricky terrain to navigate, occur in the form of emotional or psychological trauma.
Interestingly, the trauma that impacts our life doesn’t necessarily have to appear overly distressing at the time. It’s more about personal perspective. In other words, what causes a good deal of distress to one person won’t necessarily trigger any kind of emotional response in another.
One person might break a nail and see it as a complete tragedy for whatever reason, while another simply pulls out the nail clippers, takes care of business and gets on with their day.
Science is now discussing the possibility that trauma isn’t just isolated to this lifetime either. Rather, trauma sequences throughout our family history are evident in our DNA, meaning the trauma our distant great, great, great grandparents experienced is genetically imprinted on who we are. Mind. Blowing!
This tells us traumatic events are right up there in the memory banks of our soul, directing our fears and phobias later in life and, in many instances, steering us away from our self identity and causing self doubt to creep in.
Think about what you were told as a small child when you did something your adult parents considered ‘dangerous’. It might have been as simple as navigating a flight of stairs as a somewhat unsteady toddler. Your mother runs up to intervene, lest you fall and hurt yourself.
That’s a natural, innate, nurturer response one might say. What’s so wrong with that? But if you consider tribal cultures, children are often left to explore their own potential in their own time. They don’t go by a book on child development or milestones.
They also don’t necessarily live in a constant state of fear, drip fed to them by a modern world of 24/7 horror movies right there on your TV.
Why am I talking about all of this? Well, the point I’m rather verbosely trying to make is that these people live in trust. Not fear.
They trust in one another. And importantly, they trust in their own knowledge of who they are and their purpose within their community. Why? Because the survival of everyone in that community depends on everyone showing up and owning their purpose.
We’re taught however, from a very young age, that someone else generally knows what’s best for us. Whether it’s our parents, teachers, peers, colleagues, employers, doctors, accountants, lawyers, leaders or even total strangers who work in retail marketing and apparently know us better than we know ourselves…the message is clear…
Do not trust your self. Someone else always knows better!
Look at children and how they live in every moment. They’re walking headlong into life with a surety of self and purpose. Until that sense of self and purpose becomes diluted.
Then you see them start to hesitate and question their self-belief. Not to mention the people they’ve been told to trust the most have lied this whole time about Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny!
Talk about mess with your head!
But what this misguided sense of self, that’s actually the influence and expectation of others means, is that you no longer trust or even acknowledge your own intuition about what’s best for you.
Think about it for a minute. How can anyone else know what’s best for you? How can anyone else be more qualified on the subject of YOU?
But we see it all the time and we’re often guilty of it ourselves. We look to others for guidance and counsel, too scared to make a decision lest we get it wrong, because how can we possibly know what’s best for us?
You see the vicious cycle you get stuck in? When you stray far off course and forget who you are along the way, the road ahead often becomes bumpy. This is the universe’s way, or whatever you want to call it, of telling you – Wrong way, go back!
When you’re not walking with clarity of purpose, you’re essentially working against yourself.
So how do you work out what’s best for you? Well, you start by digging into the depths of whom you are, and confronting the myriad of voices that have been allowed to shape your journey thus far.
What purpose does it serve to hold onto any negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs? None. Now is the time to confront them and then kick them to the curb. They no longer serve you!
Now, with all that junk gone, ask yourself…if I could do anything, right now, in this moment, at this time, without any consequences or impediments, what would I choose to do? Don’t hesitate and think about it for ages. Just say out loud the first thing that pops into your head!
Now visualise that reality in your mind’s eye…in as much detail as you possibly can.
Is it what you expected? Does your answer reflect the reality you’re currently in? If not, it might be time to do a bit of soul searching my friend. Namaste!