Have you ever contemplated who you really are?
Beyond your name, gender and job? Beyond your passing thoughts, emotions and experiences? Beyond your past story and current beliefs?
Since all these things are processed by the mind, let’s start there.
What is the mind exactly?
Well, according to Wikipedia, the mind is ‘the set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory, which is housed in the brain.’
All of these things are essential for us to effectively function and thrive as human beings.
So despite how much the mind can seem to drive us crazy, I think we can agree that it is not our enemy.
That said, we also have the ego which exists within the mind.
What is ego?
The ego forms our sense of identity, who we think we are. This is based on a collection of labels, beliefs, memories, ideas and judgements that we’ve been accumulating since we were born.
The ego works hard to protect this sense of identity and it operates out of self-interest. It seeks approval, recognition and validation in order to feel worthy, important or seen as “right”.
If these things are threatened, the ego will be quick to react, either by attacking or withdrawing.
As a result, the ego is ultimately fear driven.
What can get confusing is that the ego can have many voices. For example:
There’s the critical voice (which often uses ‘you’ instead of ‘I’) e.g. ‘You’re so boring/selfish/awkward.’ ‘You’re not doing enough.’ ‘Your skin/hair/stretch marks look horrible.’
This voice is also critical of others and finds it very hard to take criticism or admit that it’s wrong.
There’s the fearful voice e.g. ‘Am I capable enough?’ ‘Are they judging me?’ ‘What if I mess up?’ ‘She doesn’t like me.’
There’s the negative/complaining voice e.g. ‘It’s too hot/cold/loud/messy etc’ ‘There’s too much to do.’ ‘There’s not enough time.’ ‘I can’t do it.’ ‘My neck hurts.’
There’s the restless ‘got to keep doing things’ voice e.g. ‘I’ve got to get X, Y, Z done today.’ ‘I mustn’t forget my appointment.’ ‘I’m just going to research about X.’ ‘I should reply to her now.’
No wonder we get overwhelmed!
What can be helpful is to give each voice a name e.g. Fearful Fran or Moaning Mona (preferably a name that isn’t the same as someone you know!).
This helps you to dis-identify with them i.e. become aware of them (and of their nature) rather than think that you are them and obliviously believe every word they say.
Whenever you notice one of them, you can say something like:
‘Thanks Fearful Fran, I hear you. But it’s OK. I’ve got this.’
Or, you can simply choose to notice her and patiently wait until she quietens down (this happens naturally when you don’t engage with the voice!).
Here’s the cool part – the You who notices these voices is the true you.
You are the awareness behind your thoughts, emotions and experiences.
Aside from ‘true self,’ you can call this your inner self, your Higher Self, your spiritual self, your soul – whichever one resonates best with you.
It’s the You beyond your mind and physical body.
Tip: Think of your mind as one pixel (from which you typically view the world) and your true self as the whole screen who always sees the bigger picture of your life.
This You is infinitely wise, peaceful, loving and abundant.
It has nothing to prove or protect, so you’ll never find it reacting like your ego.
You are always connected to your true self and you are always being guided by your true self – through your heart or gut feelings, your intuition, your dreams (both when awake and asleep), your nudges and inspirations. Also through signs and synchronicities!
Sometimes these things can be startlingly obvious, but most of the time they are quiet and subtle.
If you feel disconnected from your true self, that’s only because the voices of your ego are too loud or you’re too busy and distracted to hear, feel or notice her (note: your true self may have a feminine or masculine energy, you get to feel and decide).
The greatest gift you can give yourself is to prioritise time to connect with your true self (e.g. through meditation, journaling or walking alone in nature); to explore how she feels, how she communicates to you and how you can communicate back (e.g. through spoken words, written words or drawings).
This will strengthen your relationship with your true self and allow you to listen, trust and act on the guidance you receive.
This takes practice and patience! So be kind to yourself. And release any expectations of how and when you think it should happen.
I want to be clear that I don’t claim to know all the answers here. I will always be learning and discovering more about my human self and spiritual self and how to best integrate the two.
But so far, what I’ve shared here is a combination of my own learning and experience tied together with the insight and wisdom shared by others, all of which has deeply resonated with me.
So if this information is resonating with you too, then great! Feel free to share any thoughts or insights below.
If it doesn’t resonate at this point in time, that’s perfectly fine too.
Honour what feels true for you in each moment, and stay open-minded along the way 🙂