For much of my life, I struggled to discover who I actually was.
I lost myself in relationships, in family and in friends. Instead of living the life that suited me, I became a chameleon, constantly changing to suit each environment and desperately trying to sit on each high pedestal that others had placed out for me.
I compared, compromised, blended and sold my soul time and again.
I frantically searched for answers to unlock the secret to my unhappiness and in doing so I accused, blamed, demanded and found replies in all the wrong places.
So, I turned it around on myself. If others weren’t at fault, was it I? I had choices. Everything that was in front of me was there because I, and I alone, had put it there. It was time to call myself out and to face up to myself.
Looking in the mirror I had no idea who I was. How could I possibly expect anyone else to value me when I was a confused and distorted mess, a mixture of everyone I had allowed to penetrate me, along with all the negative self-beliefs I had somehow inflicted on myself.
My insides ached with under-nourishment and I realised the reason for this was that I was not living the life destined for me, I was living for everyone else and was doing a pretty bad job of it.
I needed to change and in doing so, I needed to figure out how. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight—I had taken a long time to become who I was and to change, was going to be a process. Although I didn’t expect miracles, when I asked myself each of the following questions, I noticed immediate changes taking place on the inside.
1. Where do I want to be in five years time?
I looked at my relationships, my career, the area I lived in, my health and education. I thought about places I wanted to visit and all the things I wanted to experience. I realised that although some of these changes were not possible immediately, there were so many things I could work on one small step at a time.
I enlisted in courses, changed my eating habits, found new hobbies, read the books that I needed and focused more on cultivating important relationships. I didn’t set a destination for the outcome; instead I set a feeling.
2. How did I want to feel on the inside in five years time? Where would I be emotionally, physically, mentally?
I considered all the things in my life that weren’t healthy and how I could make the changes needed. I realised that nothing was out of reach and it was up to me to take control of my life and that anything was possible. When I didn’t add to much pressure by expecting instant gratification for the changes, I allowed everything take a natural pace so it sunk in. Instead of crashing and burning I slowly absorbed each new thing.
3. What bad habits do I need to stop?
I made a list and didn’t expect an overnight miracle. Instead I worked on them one by one. With some, I went cold turkey and others I phased out over time. For each one accomplished, I rewarded myself with something that was good for me instead. Alongside the list I added a replacement for each one. Something to look forward to at the end of each achievement.
4. What mistakes have I made today?
Instead of excusing or blaming my behaviour, I took responsibility. I made the decision to turn every negative into a positive. Each time I messed up, I confronted it face on. Why, what and how had these things happened? What would I do differently in the future? What have I learned?
I realised that I was stumbling over the same problems over and again and I would keep coming face to face with them until I accepted where I was going wrong. Whenever I made errors, bad judgements or was careless, I thought about what part I had played in allowing the mistake to happen.
I discovered that when I lived in the present moment, I was far less likely to keep tripping up. Although I still would, I would rectify things sooner and understand the reasons behind the mistakes. I also have learned that I will always, always make mistakes, regardless of how much I learn, and so I forgive myself each time and vow to try harder in future.
5. Who do I envy or admire? What qualities do these people have? In what way can I learn from them? What is it about them that inspires me?
I wrote down a list of the people that have the je ne sais quoi that strongly resonated with me. What elements was I drawn to? I wrote down all the characteristics that made those people what they were. I read their autobiographies and learned how they had succeeded and what steps they took to get where they were. I used the admiration to motivate me and to help me reach my own life goals.
I found that it was shared similarities that had drawn me to those people and I realised that I could set the bar however high I chose and then just take whatever necessary steps needed to get there. I learned so much through others from animal activists to successful entrepreneurs. Although I may not reach the same high levels with everything, I realised that my destiny was it my own hands, just as it had been in theirs, it was up to my how hard I was willing to work.
6. What stories have I told myself?
So much of my self-belief was bad conditioning. I had convinced myself that I was worthy of this and not worthy of that. In doing so I attracted all kinds of wrong people and rubbish into my life. I immediately made a conscious decision to stop filling my head with negativity about myself. I was unique, different and worthy of the very best life had to offer me. I just needed to keep telling myself this until it finally sank in and I believed it.
As soon as I unlearned all of the rubbish and relearned how magical I was, I began to attract exactly what I believed. My soul was a mirror and whatever was going on in the inside, was radiating out and attracting similar reflections. The more love I gave to myself, the more love I received back—I discovered that like attracts like.
7. Who do I love and who loves me?
I thought long and hard about those that I loved and those that loved me. Did I let them know what they meant to me? Was I making them a priority in my life? How could I spend more quality time with them and show them how valued and important they were? I realised that often I would take people for granted and assume they already knew their place in my life. I made a conscious decision to appreciate each one of them more and let know regularly with actions rather than just words.
8. If no one judged me, who would I be?
This is probably the most powerful question I asked myself.
It made me realise how much I was living a lie, living according to society’s expectations of me. So much of what I said and did on a daily basis was done to fit in line with high standards placed on me by people I didn’t even know. I realised my life was limitless. I could be whoever and do whatever I chose to be. Those that truly loved me would accept me all the same and those were the only ones that really mattered.
I realised that to live free from judgement, I also had to stop judging myself. I stopped caring about what people thought about me and started caring about what I thought about myself, about what I needed to do to be fulfilled and also what made me happy on the inside. When I went places, I stopped caring if people liked how I dressed, what I said, or valued my opinions.
We are all different and we are never going to be accepted by everyone.
Someone, somewhere will always disapprove regardless of how hard we try. I stopped trying to please the masses and instead worked on pleasing the only person that really mattered—myself.
As soon as I mastered this, other people’s opinions and judgement faded from my thoughts and I no longer cared. As long as I believed in myself and trusted that I was living as morally and ethically as I could, the judges—I truly couldn’t give a f**k about. It was liberating and refreshing and simply the best and most loving thing I ever did for myself.
I started asking myself these questions on a daily basis and each day, I found new answers.
I realised I was trapped in an existence that I didn’t like, and yet, I already had all of the answers to free myself. It was that simple. These questions transformed my life completely, I didn’t just feel different, I became a different person.
I became me.