It’s easy to forget who you are. Not your face, what you look like in the mirror, or the labels you or others have given you: what you do, what you’re good at, what you like or don’t like, where you came from, or any of the relationships you think define you. I mean, who you really are.
While the confusion happens most noticeably during adolescence as we experience social pressures and a physical metamorphosis, figuring out who we are, for most of us, is a lifelong process. As young adults, we develop friendships, successes and failures surface, and we begin to get a sense of where we belong, who we want to be and where we might want to go in life. But because of ongoing external factors that influence each phase and choice in our life, usually the uncertainty continues into adulthood, parenthood, mid-life and beyond. Throughout life, we continually identify ourselves with our careers, our titles, our relationships, and as we age, even our age. The labels and definitions, and the ideas of our family and the culture where we grew up, somehow persuade us to believe we’re that which everyone else sees.
Really, that’s from where the lifelong mental game of ping-pong stems. As we strive to please our parents as children, to do what’s expected of us, and then continue to do our best to appear as successful and happy adults, we lose touch with that unchanging part of ourselves that’s always been there. Watch a 2-year-old do anything, for instance. They’re completely absorbed in the fullness of the discovery of each moment as they move through whatever it is they’re doing. There’s no self doubt or worry: no “shoulds” or “what do I look like” or “what will they think?” They’re completely pure in who they are, free to be who they are and totally ok with who they are. They are a true reflection of that ever bright little light inside of them that has been there since the day they were born.
Sooner or later, though, little questions start to seep in. Those little voices both inside your head and the bigger voices that come from all the people and the world around you end up making you question who you are, what you want, and what’s right and best for you. And while many of those outer voices might very well be considered good advice and helpful guidance, it can confuse the hell out of your inner self and muffle your inner voice. It happens to me over and over again, sometimes daily … seriously.
So for me, reconnecting with that part of me that has always been, has become a daily practice. On crazy days, when things feel as if they are coming at me from all directions, sometimes it can become an hourly practice. As soon as the unraveling starts, I try to turn inward and tune into the breath. By moving into a meditative state, either through the physical yoga asana practice, in a seated or reclined meditation, or simply connecting with the breath, you can reconnect with that little unchanging light within you. It’s the part of you that’s been there since the very beginning and knows that really, it’s all good in there. And what’s in there, can give you the strength to deal with what’s out there. Regardless of how confusing, challenging or difficult life can get.
As you learn to continually reconnect with the calm, steadiness that’s been there all along, every time you feel yourself veering off course, you can bring yourself back to it. Each time you come back to it, it gets a little easier to find it again. With time, you can begin to live a life of trusting who you really are, better understand yourself and others, experience a sense of freedom and enjoy all the kindness that abounds.