You Can’t Discover Your ‘True Self’ (and that’s pretty cool)

This is the third and final video of a three-part series I’ve put together. The one in which I reveal the big secret about success and happiness…

I hope it’s been a reassuring journey through the phases of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-transcendence that takes place over and over throughout our lives.

In the first video I shared my reflections on the stories I believed about myself growing up. Shy kid, too quiet, needed to talk more, overly sensitive etc.

Then in the second video I shared more about the product of my big introvert ‘aha’ moment, which happened when I read Carl King’s article, and first heard the word used in a positive way. Things started to slot into place and I realised I wasn’t alone in those stories and experiences growing up.

Now, in this third video I will attempt to tie everything together: I know I’m an introvert. I feel a sense of validation and belonging that I never thought possible. I understand this part of who I am. The question now is…yeah, and what? What does being an introvert change? How do I use this knowledge? What does it make possible for me?

And of course, these are questions for all of us to ask when we experience a moment of self validation and awareness.

Three Steps

I broke the series into three parts because it felt like this represents a common experience. Not just in discovering what it means to be an introvert. But in other areas of everyday life as well. When we go through a process of ‘aha! it’s not just me then’ validation, we are invited to move through three phases:

1. Uncover Self

The ‘aha’ moment itself. Where we see ourselves reflected back at us by someone who shows us we are not alone, even if we’ve felt like it all our lives. We react with thoughts like, ‘wow I’ve never heard anyone describe these things before – they’re talking about me!’

2. Accept Self

This is the exploration process. Where we follow our curiosity and work out what it means to be part of this group of others like us. We feel part of something bigger than ourselves. And ascribe meaning to our identity from these labels and signifiers. We might think,  ‘I had no idea there were so many other people like me!’

3. Beyond Self

We take all we’ve learned about our labels. We feel validated and understood. And we know we’re not alone. Who we are is suddenly opened up to include new possibilities. The restrictions that came from the stories we believed about our limitations are lifted. And we begin to realise that we also don’t need to be defined by the labels that have helped set us free. These are simply tools of liberation that we can use to help manage a new set of potentials.

The Secret is…there is no secret

You Won't Find Your True Self

The more I’ve dug into it, the more I see this process happens constantly throughout our lives in small ways. Whenever we experience a new situation (job change, new relationship, or an aha moment like we’ve looked at in these videos), we go through similar steps. First, we experience longing and loneliness (seeing our alienation who we think we are – wishing we fitted in), then we find moments of connection where our sense of self receives validation (acceptance). And if we don’t experience this, we might try to fit in (fawn or fight), we may quit or run away (flight), or we just stay, numb ourselves, and loose touch with who we could become (freeze).

Then finally we transcend this stuff, and own the space outside of expectations, norms, and the status quo. We realise that fitting in was not the answer. that no one fits in. There is no great secret. We are all in the same boat. Making it up as we go. All we have is connection with others who ‘get it’.

Breaking the Rules

And this is where we begin move in step with our own rhythm. Away from the ‘the right way of doing things’, the correct etiquette, and so on. We find joy in rebelling against the rules. And in so doing, create new unwritten rules that others look at for guidance on how to act.

We can’t start at this end point. We must move through the phases. And I think this is something to embrace and enjoy rather than lament or resent. Though different people will move at different speeds through the process. Ironically, it’s those who are patient and understanding that get there, more efficiently and painlessly, than those who want to jump ahead.

I’m A Rubbish Introvert

In response to one of Carl King’s introvert myths (‘You Are Weird’), we acknowledged that “we think for ourselves. And because of that we might challenge certain accepted norms and expected ways of doing things. We tend not to make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.”

This includes identity labels, such as what ‘being an introvert’ itself might mean.

There is the fundamental, under the bonnet, internal system (how we’re wired to create energy). But we all have different goals, values, and ambitions. There is no perfect ‘introvert job’. Only potentially helpful ways for introverts to manage the job they would love to do. There is no ideal holiday destination for a highly sensitive person. It depends what you enjoy. And when you allow yourself permission to admit that, you are in a position to manage that holiday in a way that works for your sensitivity.

I find this really liberating. It opens up all the possibilities that I’d love to explore. Even though I kind of like to have fixed blueprints, 7 step plans, and the ‘true secrets of success’. It’s wonderful to realise, that there is no right way to live life as an introvert or highly sensitive person. We get to make up the rules for ourselves, in step with our own personality, goals, and preferences.

As Professor Brian Little says, being an introvert isn’t reason enough to stop you from doing what truly matters to you. We must take the images and articles that tell us how introverts typically think or behave, with a pinch of salt. Don’t let it cloud your sense of self worth if you fail to see yourself reflected back.

This is for all of us. In all things.

We are in control of our own choices, desires, and goals. These are not defined by this or that label. And the makeup of our personality is underpinned by being a little of this, a little of that, and all of the other. Once we have incubated within the solace of a label, we are ready to hatch, and break out of any shell that attempts to define us.

You Will Never Fit In

NO ONE truly fits. And within that lies the truth of belonging. In fact, despite what we might assume, fitting in is actually the very opposite of belonging.

When we seek to fit in, we believe doing so will lead us to feeling whole, accepted, or happy. But all we do is alienate ourselves from ourselves. We don’t find belonging when we pursue paths that we suppose we ‘should’. Or when we attempt to remove the messy contradictions and confusing desires churning away within. These are part of life. They make us human.

The pursuit of fitting in might leave us appearing ‘successful’ to the outside world. When we stare into the mirror (or read back our social media profile descriptions), we look like we think we’re supposed to. To others, we look the part and apparently fit in. Yet on the inside, we still feel disconnected. Alienated. Distant. Fragmented. Dislocated.

This is Something to Celebrate!

Even when we spend all our time, energy, money, and attention on doing what we need to in order to ‘fit in’, we can’t buy our way to a true sense of belonging. So we’re free to let go of that desire.

This is the ultimate freedom. A real game changer. There is nothing we can do to achieve that feeling of wholeness, oneness, self-ness. If we truly take it on board (and stop believing that there IS a secret, we just haven’t found it yet), what does this make possible for us?

We are free to become who we are forever in the process of becoming.

A Place for Becoming

The Haven is a community where we take this stuff seriously. We are not a club or a tribe. We’re a collective of human misfits; with different goals and world views, but a shared commitment to gentle rebellion. No conforming or ‘fitting in’. Just curiosity, exploration, and acceptance of the invitation into the quiet adventure of life.

You might want to try it out, especially if you resonate with these ways of thinking about your life. It’s not for everyone but it might be for you, which is why I give everyone the opportunity to test it for a couple of weeks before making a decision. Learn more here.

It’s a community that is grounded in those questions: what is possible? So what? What now? As a response to the aha moments and discoveries we make through life. We are interested in what we are always becoming, rather than what we’re told to think we are. And bringing all those contradictory parts of ourselves to the table. It’s a home for misfits and those who feel confused about who they’re ‘supposed to be’.

I’d love to welcome you in to the virtual village…

This is a beautiful digital construct of the Haven village by Tuula Ahde and Jani Kormu (such a beautiful gift!) Learn more about this concept here.

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