Reconnecting with your true self: On Identity and Imago Dei:
Who am I? What is my purpose, my meaning? As humans, we are wired to ask these questions. We are created to understand more deeply what makes us unique and sets us apart. Contrarily, we often find ourselves in this hustle to “keep up” with the Jones', with wall street, or our next yoga class. So, we are torn. We want to be different, and yet, we long to be accepted and be a little bit the same. But why?
Well the answer to that question, my friends, would need to be more of a book, and trust me, you and I both know the plethora of books that have been written on such a topic. And still, we are asking this question, and wandering for a firm conclusion. But hopefully, this blog post will help awaken and allow you to really dig more deeply into who you are at your core, and how to reconnect with your true self.
As a therapist, I find myself normalizing others genuine insecurities, struggles, anxieties or depression, and failings on the weekly. We are far more alike in our struggles than we realize. We long for connection, it's part of our DNA. And yet, we were made so uniquely and in a way that sets us apart from others. Whatever your belief system, or faith, it’s hard to deny this reality. In order to gain true connection, we must have a few foundational pieces laid. Who are you? What makes you, you?
One’s perspective of identity varies from culture to culture. In America, our identity commonly connects to who our friends are, how much is in our bank account, or, whether or not you graduated from college. We can build a lot of our identity on the answers to these questions. But how about if all this were to crumble? What remains? What is at the core of who we are?
Strip it down. Who are you at the end of the day, When you take off your make up, your business attire, and yes, even after your kids are asleep. What remains? Who are you when you are not connected to your Instagram or Facebook account? When you are not your job title. You, my friend. You and all of your lovely, messy, beautiful, broken, and sanctified self.
Here are just a few ways to connect with your true self:
Meditation and Prayer: I get it, this one can be hard. In a world that’s crazy busy, and again, that part of us that wants to keep up. But taking that time, whether you take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, or 4 hours, pray. Meditate, at least once a day. If it feels uncomfortable, that’s ok. It will get easier. It feels weird to sit in silence when were not used to it. If you’re a believer, or spiritual, take time to listen too. One of my favorite books to go to in this time is the book of Proverbs.
Visualization: Sometimes when we are struggling to connect with our true self, we need to find a way to connect to all of our 5 senses. Come back into your self. Imagery is pretty incredible to help us do this. If you’re anything like me, and struggle to focus on a task for more than 5 minutes, dimming or turning down the lights will help when working on this technique. Put on some calming music, (i love the “spa radio” station on Pandora), maybe even put some aromatherapy on, or light some candles. And bring yourself to a place where you picture your most favorite place on earth. Is it a lake, your favorite beach? Is it the church you grew up in? Or Grandma’s house? Whatever it is, get yourself there, mentally. You got it? Now, imagine the smells that come to mind, the colors, textures around you. Even imagine touching something in the area, a tree, etc. This awakens our 5 senses, and also allows us to more deeply be at a place to connect with our true self. See yourself in that space. Remind yourself that you are alive and breathing. You have purpose and intention. You have an impact on your environment.
Take it easy on the alcohol, the sweets, netflix, or whatever you may use when you numb out: When we feel overwhelmed, it’s easy to use our “go to’s” to relax and unwind. Moderation isn’t a bad thing. Trust me I’m all about Netflix and baking for sure. But too much of a good thing can cause us to dissociate, and avoid connecting with our self. Then things pile up, and we continue on with our same cycle.
Get out there and give back! Go do something to help your community. It doesn’t have to be something drastic. There are so many volunteer opportunities, that it can be like a deer looking at headlights to find the “right thing.” But here are some outside of the box ways to give back just by being you: Buy someone’s coffee at the drive thru. Say hello to someone who looks a little sad, ask them how they are doing? Make some baked goods for your neighbor or ask them to take a walk. Pick up some litter at a park. Sometimes we feel this need to give to a greater cause in our community, to shine really really big, when really, the greater cause is right next door, literally. Giving back can help remind us that we can make a difference, that we were created for something outside of ourselves. It elicits hope. And when we give to others, it helps connect us to our true selves all the more.
- “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb .… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13,16
- “One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”
― Shannon L. Adler