Each one of us has to be our true self: fresh, solid, at ease, loving and compassionate. When we are our true selves, not only you but everyone around you will profit from your presence—Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you feel that you’re not enough as you are?
That no matter what you do, no matter how ‘successful’ you are in the world, there is still something missing—something not quite right?
Maybe you have a picture in your head of an ideal version of yourself — a person who is relaxed, confident, uninhibited, adventurous and playful?
But whatever you do, this ‘enough’ version of yourself remains elusive and out of reach.
The notion of ‘not being enough’ affects pretty much everyone—with two notable exceptions: young children and spiritual adepts—those who have recognised and reconnected with their true selves.
Young children have a huge zest for life. They are naturally joyful, loving, playful, creative and curious about life—all qualities of the true self.
For them, the notion of ‘not being enough’ is non-existent.
They have no issue with self-acceptance. They don’t compare themselves with others. They don’t hold grudges. They are not preoccupied with the past or the future. Nor do they have a gazillion ideas about how their lives ought to be.
In fact, they don’t think much about anything. And this is precisely why they are so joyful. Like spiritual adepts, they exist in a blissful state of no-mind.
There are no limiting thoughts or false beliefs to block out out the light of their true nature.
They are embodiments of “think less and grow rich” —rich in joy, rich in love and rich in peace.
The Uncaused Joy Of The True Self Was Your First Experience
“Being a person is only part of the truth of who you are.” — Mooji
Uncaused joy was the first thing you knew when you came into the world— before you began to identify with a mind and a body.
Your hands, the room, the sounds, the smells, the physical sensations, your mother’s smiling face, were all one thing. There was no concept of me and other—no sense of being separate from the whole.
You were radiant, joyful and perfectly at ease—a pure and undiluted expression of the one true Self.
“Unburdened by the judgments, comparisons and self-limiting conclusions of a conditioned mind, young children hang out in this space of uncaused happiness” — from my book, “Awaken The Happy You”.
And then you began to develop a thinking habit. You began to pick up the ideas, beliefs and concepts that created a separate sense of identity. Your pure, unconditioned self became clouded over by the judgements, comparisons and ‘not enough-ness’ of a conditioned mind.
When we believe that these minds and bodies we inhabit make up the totality of who we are (as most people do), it is inevitable that we’ll compare ourselves with others and conclude that we’re not enough.
There will always be people who are smarter, richer, more beautiful, more athletic or more successful than ourselves.
The good news, however, is that your true self has never left you. On some level, we all know that who we really are is far greater than what we are taking ourselves to be.
This is also the cause of our unrest and why no amount of self-improvement or success in the world will ever be enough. There will always be the sense that something is missing— as indeed there is.
You are taking yourself to be a small, insecure, wanting individual when in fact you are perfect and powerful beyond measure.
The Light Of The True Self Can Never Be Dimmed
In my book, “Awaken The Happy You” (the happy you being your true self) I use the metaphor of a lighthouse to illustrate the relationship between the mind and the true self.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
On a clear, starry night, the lighthouse, sitting majestically on its rocky throne, can be seen shining brightly for miles around.
A fine mist begins to roll in from the sea, gently enveloping it. Its powerful beam cuts through with ease and can still be clearly seen from miles away.
As the fog continues to thicken, the beam gradually APPEARS to dim. Viewed from afar, it seems to lose some of its brightness, some of its effulgence.
This is only an appearance of course. Behind the thickening curtain of fog, the light within burns as brightly as ever. It remains unaffected by the shifting conditions.
And even if the fog were to become so thick as to block out the beam altogether, still it would only appear so. Though the surrounding conditions may change, the light itself remains true, remains ever as it is.
And so it is with the true self.
Happiness was your natural state when you entered this world. It is what you first experienced before you learned to identify with a mind and a body, before the fog of a personal identity began to block out the light of your true nature.
Beyond appearances, the light of who you truly are can never dim. It remains eternally as it is.
It is impossible not to be connected to the true self—but it can certainly seem like it.
You Can Never Become ‘Enough’ On The Level Of The Mind
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” — Albert Einstein.
In an attempt to plug this insatiable void of ‘not enough-ness’, people look for fulfilment and recognition on the outside.
They strive to be the fastest athlete, the most successful businessperson or the most accomplished actor or academic.
But even if you become the president of The United States, it is clear that it will never be enough— because you are not addressing the real issue.
You are taking this limited body and mind to be the TOTALITY of who you are and looking for solutions on that level alone. The conclusion that you are not enough is a creation of the mind. To heal it you have to go beyond the mind.
You are suffering from a case of mistaken identity. The small, conditioned self can never be enough but the true self is inherently perfect. It cannot be bettered, cannot be improved upon.
Connecting With Your True Self
I invite you to try the following meditation from Mooji, one of my favourite teachers.
What Remains When You Put The Person Aside?
Find a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths and, as you exhale, do so with a sense of releasing, a sense of letting go.
Become aware of the present moment. Be here now, just as you are.
Now put aside:
- any thoughts of who you are, any ideas you have about yourself.
- any concepts such as male or female, young or old, rich or poor.
- any ideas, any beliefs, any knowledge you have about the world.
- any ideas of good or bad, true or false, right or wrong. Any self-judgements. Anything you feel ashamed of.
- all memories of the past — as if you had just arrived on earth in this moment.
- all thoughts about the future.
Simple be present here, now — just as you are. Breathing in. Breathing out.
Without all these thoughts, concepts and beliefs is there still a ‘you’ here?
Without a personal identity, what remains? In a state of ‘no mind’, who are you?
How does it feel? Expansive? Peaceful? Enough?
Is there anything you have put aside that, if you were to take it back, would enhance your experience of this moment?
4 Ways To Reconnect With Your True Self
In truth, it is impossible to be disconnected from your true self. You can’t not be who you are. But you can certainly FEEL that you aren’t.
Like the fog surrounding the lighthouse, certain habits, false beliefs and lifestyle choices disconnect us from the wellspring of joy within.
Here are some tips to help you reconnect.
Slow Down And Simplify
If you’ve ever visited villages in India, Nepal or other so-called ‘developing countries’ you’ve probably noticed that people there tend to look more joyful, alive, and shiny-eyed than most people in The West.
They live slow, simple lives close to nature and are more in touch with their true selves as a result.
Complexity, busy-ness, sirens, concrete and traffic jams drown out the natural state of peace and contentment within us. They disconnect us from the flow of LIFE inside.
Slow down, declutter, downsize, live within your means, keep possessions to a minimum, spend more time in nature, cut back on commitments and perform tasks slowly and mindfully.
Create more inner space for the light of your being to shine through.
Check out my next mindfulness course. Learn how to make peace with your busy mind
Get Out Of Your Head
Another major advantage of living a slow and simple life is that you don’t have nearly as much to think about. The more you overthink, the less connected you’ll feel with your true self.
Young children are present, alert and passionate because they don’t have a head full of thoughts to divert their attention away from the joy and simplicity of the present moment.
The mind can certainly be useful. It is helpful to remember which house you live in or how to cross the road safely without getting run over.
On the other hand, dwelling on your problems and shortcomings, wallowing in doomsday thoughts about the future, or blowing minor issues out of all proportion, creates a think blanket of fog that crowds out feelings of peace and calm.
Notice when you are lost in unproductive thinking. STOP for a moment. Take a few mindful breaths. Feel the breeze against your skin, the warmth in the palms of your hands, the pressure of your feet touching the ground. Be aware of the present moment.
To experience the true self, we must first learn how to quieten the mind.
3. Making Conscious Choices
You know when your choices are in alignment with your true self because they make you feel joyful, expansive and alive. This is the litmus test.
Often, when we make decisions based on fear—doing what we think we SHOULD do or what we believe others expect of us—we end up feeling depleted, disempowered and disconnected with ourselves.
Being clear, honest, direct, authentic and vulnerable is the simplest and cleanest way to live. It helps maintain a clear inner and outer space.
Your true self is always seeking aliveness, adventure, creativity and expansion. Consciously choose people, activities and events that align with these qualities. Let your heart led the way.
Before you embark on any course of action, ask first, will it make me feel more alive or less alive?
When you are true to yourself, not only you but everyone around you will profit from your presence. When your own light is shining brightly you become a beacon and an inspiration for others.
Everyone should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.— Zen proverb
Meditation is a wonderful tool for bringing you face to face with your true self.
When I offer meditation taster sessions to the public, I’m always amazed how some people experience profound peace the very first time they try it.
How is this possible, you may ask? It is because peace is your true nature. It is ever-present and can never leave you.
You are the one who leaves peace through getting distracted by your overactive mind.
It is like looking at your reflection in a clear pool. If you splash your hand in the water, you get a distorted reflection of your face. When the water is still, the reflection is crystal clear.
When the mind is quiet, the qualities of your true self are revealed—peace, love, aliveness, connection and enough-ness in abundance.
Click the link for details of my next online mindfulness training.
A Tale Of Two Selves
There are so many people who have everything money can buy but still feel empty inside.
The new car, the promotion, the bigger house or the new partner may distract you for a short time but there is still a gnawing sense of incomplete-ness that no amount of “stuff” can ever alleviate.
The empty ache you feel in your soul stems from forgetfulness of your true nature.
You have taken yourself to be this feeble little mind and body and lost sight of the the mighty and perfected being you really are.
Your true self cannot be improved upon.