10 Tips to Get in Touch With Your Real Self
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: David Seddon MA, BA, Accred - helping couples and individuals to a better life
2nd December, 2010
The eminent sociologist Professor Nikolas Rose has suggested that we live in an increasingly “somatic” society – that is a society in which people get in touch with themselves via their bodies. Contemporary examples of this would be tattoos and body piercings, whilst, of course, food, drink, sex and clothes have been more traditional ones. There is nothing implicitly wrong with getting in touch with ourselves via our bodies. In fact it’s a good thing. But problems may start when that is all that there is. Rose makes the point that many people in the 21st Century seem less likely to search more deeply within themselves than people were in the past, and whilst this makes for some advantages, ultimately, it can lead to a great deal of shallowness and regrets in later life. The most common complaint of people on their death bed is that they didn’t ever get to be fully themselves, yet this is easily avoided if we put our hearts and minds to it.
Philosophers, writers, artists, spiritual leaders and counsellors have all stressed the importance of making the deeper connection with ourselves in order that we can live a more fulfilling life. I have put together some quotes to inspire you to that:
1. If you don't understand yourself you don't understand anybody else. - Nikki Giovanni
It may seem strange to consider that by understanding yourself you can understand others, but whose voice are you hearing when your friend speaks – theirs or your own interpreting and putting a spin on what they said? When we understand ourselves, it is easier to see what we get up to in our heads and feelings and to listen more clearly to others.
2. Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens. Carl Jung
It is good and essential to look outside, but most of the answers to creating our own happiness are within ourselves. We need to go inside to find them instead of ignoring, avoiding or denying the need for this. It is often easier and more comforting to do this in counselling than it is on our own since counsellors are trained to do this. As a vital part of my training, I have made and continue to make the inner journey and can help you with yours. It can be a lifetime’s task – but the good news is that it becomes increasingly easier.
3. Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with yourself? …How do you achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding…There is nothing so delightful as being aware. Would you rather act and not be aware of your actions, talk and not be aware of your words. Anthony de Mello
How easy it is for us to live life on auto pilot, or to do things as we are expected to do them. Many people spend almost their entire lives doing this and yet this is really not to live at all. It is much better to look at what we are doing and why we are doing it and to practise being aware of this in the moment. A counsellor can bring the present moment into focus in each session, which can help you a lot outside of sessions.
4. The greatest explorers on earth never take voyages as long as those of the man who ascends to the depths of his heart. Julien Green
How many of will take the time or find the courage to do this? It can be daunting, but this is where counselling can help. A counsellor can act as your guide or as a steady hand as you start to find out more about your inner self and your patterns.
5. It seems to me that at bottom each person is asking, “Who am I really? How can I get in touch with this real self, underlying all my surface behaviour? How can I become myself?” Carl Rogers
My main counselling philosophy is to follow the work of Carl Rogers, who started the Person-Centred system whereby the client becomes the expert on his own life and the counsellor offers him empathy, honesty and respect on his journey. With this approach, my regular clients have found that they are able to be more the person that they really want to be.
6. Go in search of your Gift.
The more you understand yourself,
The more you will understand the world.
Do you know what your best talent is or what it is that you do when you feel most yourself? Whatever it is, that is something to really pursue. Many people spend their whole lives being something that they feel they have to be for other people. If you become aware of this at any point in your life, it is not too late to change it. You can start today.
7. I have never seen a greater monster or miracle in the world than myself. Michel de Montaigne
We are often harder on ourselves than we need to be, whether it is by putting down our achievements or slating ourselves for making mistakes or doing something wrong. The last time I checked, saints were thin on the ground, yet because of our conditioning we all feel bad when we can’t reach those dizzy heights. It can help to realise that we are capable of many types of action. Knowing that we are capable of a variety of actions helps us to be less judgemental of others and have more self-esteem for ourselves. In counselling we can learn to accept that we are not perfect and often make mistakes.
8. I've had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened. Mark Twain
Most of us spend more time worrying about the future and reflecting on the past than we do living in the precious present moment. Just how many of the things you worried about last week actually happened, and of the ones that did, how many of them were as bad as you feared? We can learn from this, become aware (as de Mello says in 3 above) and challenge ourselves to change.
9. The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. Epictetus
Happiness is a state of mind. Things and other people can be comforting but essentially it’s our own attitudes that make us happy.
10 Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself. Michel de Montaigne
This does not mean that we should become selfish. Loving and caring for yourself is not selfishness. Only if you love yourself can you give full love to others. It is not a paradox that we should give more to ourselves in order to give more to others. If you feel that you don’t presently love yourself then that is certainly something to be worked on in counselling sessions as the reasons for this may be very deep.
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