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Throughout my life, I’ve always sought to think and act in the “right way” or the “good way.”
I was so interested in making myself better all the time to keep everyone happy around me, and I had an expectation that I would some day become a perfect human being.
I imagined that some day I would learn to become someone who would have wonderful relationships and I would always feel happy. More importantly, that I would be loved by everyone.
I was never at peace with someone not liking me. If ever I felt I like I had upset someone or could upset someone, I would do everything possible to make that person like me.
I am writing all this right now, as I can today look back at those things as they were. But at that time, I was not able to see my wounds and insecurities that made such a person who was so in need of love and approval.
I guess this is what life experience does to you. I am 40 years old now, and all I crave today is to be real and authentic to my own self. I want to be seen as who I am. I no longer need to be accepted or approved by anyone. I am just okay to be as I am.
But I am definitely not okay with being who I am not.
I frankly don’t remember how and when the journey from wanting to be perfect turned to wanting to be authentic. But wherever I am today, it feels like I am walking on the right path. The “right” for me, not the “right” I was conditioned to believe from anyone else.
Every moment, I try to be aware of my behaviour, my thought patterns, and my responses based on whatever I learnt from someone who tried to teach me how to be a good person. I wonder why I was not able to even question who decided that something is “good” and the other is “bad.”
Who decides that something is right and something else is wrong?
My “right” can be someone else’s “wrong.” My good can be someone else’s bad.
I only want to understand what is my right and my good. For example, having a coffee can make someone feel amazing, while it can make someone else sick.
In the same way, there is no perfect path that suits everyone to be happy or to discover oneself.
I have been into many spiritual groups in the past who had different practices, yet hardly anyone was wanting to teach or learn about how to be real, authentic, or discover who we are.
From outside, it looked like a bunch of happy people, promoting happiness and trying to attract people by saying that they could be happy too if only they practiced what their group was practicing.
Only when I got closer to them, I saw so much pain that they were carrying inside and hiding from the world. I saw that their happiness was only a mask they wore—they only pretended to be happy.
Why? I asked a couple of them. They said that this is the way they feel they can be happy—by pretending to be happy. Sometimes, we pretend to be happy and good for such a long time, we feel that this is what real happiness feels like.
I also wanted to be happy so desperately in my life a few years back that I too explored various paths promising happiness. But it only left me more confused and exhausted.
That led me to question everything in life.
But that was the most amazing thing that happened to my life, because I questioned everything.
Life is much more than being happy and trying to look good.
How can anyone understand the pain of others when they haven’t ever tried to understand their own pain? When someone is running away from pain or problems or suffering, they can only survive. But in this life, surviving is not enough. We have to thrive and make the most of this life.
I wonder who invented formality. I feel formality is a concept just like many other concepts, but why is it followed by so many people when it doesn’t make them feel good?
It’s been a while since I started practicing authenticity in my daily life. I feel quite strange that I have to say “practice” something, when it’s our normal, natural state. We have been conditioned from the time we are born to be a certain way, and then we become someone who is confused about who we are.
So far I have achieved wonderful results of practicing authenticity.
Here are a couple of them:
I lost my many friends.
I call it an achievement. I considered people I knew or I hung out with as my friends. I realized much later that friends are people who accept you and cherish you as you are. Friends are on your side no matter what.
I had close friendships in my life. Yet, I’ve also been betrayed by them. I carried the pain of feeling betrayed for many years. It became difficult for me to form close friendships with people after that.
But when you understand yourself, the outside world becomes easy to understand. I realized I was carrying the wound of feeling betrayed, which was not supposed to be carried. It didn’t belong to me. A person who betrays has to live with him or herself ultimately. It’s her relationship with herself. The way we treat others is how we treat ourselves.
When I choose to leave a betrayer, I am choosing the quality of life I want for myself. Today, I choose who I want in my life as friends with a better checklist. This filters out selfish people, and those looking for some benefit from association with me. Or those only wanting to get and not willing to give. It filters out those who are manipulative.
The betrayal I’ve experienced from past friendships has been a gift, because I now have better quality friends in my life today.
If you are willing to negotiate loyalty and honesty with friends just to have them in your life, no one else is responsible apart from you when these people hurt you.
I share an amazing, deep relationship with my husband.
I am not scared to tell him my deepest secrets, my insecurities, my fears, or my weaknesses. I don’t need to fear that I will be judged by doing so. I am not scared of losing him.
I don’t need to wear a mask with someone I live with to feel accepted and loved. He gives me a safe space to open myself and he makes me feel seen. I use the opportunities I get with my partner to evolve, to be aware of my behaviour and thinking patterns.
The process of coming close to your real self requires commitment and patience. You have to accept that you will fail many times, but the key is to try again. I used to have many fights with my husband in the first year of marriage. Slowly it decreased, and now they don’t exist.
This kind of relationship cannot be built without hard work. Work means work on our own selves. But the process should not be to please someone else or to change yourself to what your partner wants. Because you’ll lose yourself.
Rather, it should be the change in which you recognize your unreal self—letting it go and allowing your real self to come out.
It is amazing when our perspective changes how quickly we can heal. It can also help us drop long-held beliefs that don’t serve us. When we come close to our real selves, our perspective changes automatically.
Here’s an example. My husband is never on time. It irritated me so much before. Even such a small thing led to a big fight. As I became more aware of who I am, I realised that over the course of years of strict parenting and discipline, I’d become obsessed with this compulsive punctuality.
I had learnt that punctuality is good and if I am not punctual, I deserved punishment. I would get so anxious not being on time. Since I would punish myself for this, I did the same to others. I did not learn any other way.
Yes, being punctual is a good quality to have. But if someone doesn’t have it, fighting over it cannot change it.
I had to accept it as it was. Accepting it as it was—my husband’s poor punctuality—was hard work for me.
When we are on a path of self-discovery, we may feel we are opposed by some powerful force that wants to stop us from making the change. That powerful force is our years of habit settled into our bodies, our subconscious mind, even our DNA.
It’s like you are used to waking up late for years and now you want to wake up early in the morning to meditate or do something that you have realized you really want to do. Your body doesn’t support you. But if the realization is real, no number of failures will stop you from making that change in you.
Today, my husband is more punctual than me. I used to have a different approach before. I used to get irritated and then nag my husband about it. That didn’t change him or me. It only brought unrest between us. When we accept what is as it is, without expecting any change, change happens. And even if the change didn’t happen, it wouldn’t bother me anymore.
It’s wonderful to discover your own self. Because our real self is magical. It’s all that we wished we were.
It’s not to become someone we want to become; it’s discovering who we really are.