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Who are you really? 5 exercises to find your Authentic Self!

All right, people, buckle up because today we’re diving headfirst into the world of existentialism and metaphysics. We’re talking about the concept of Authentic Self, and the question of the day is: “Who are you?” Nothing particularly tricky on the surface, and yet, it’s a question that most people have a really hard time answering. In large part because, by the time we’ve reached adulthood, most of us have spent so much time trying to mold ourselves into what others expect us to be that we’ve lost sight of who we were born to be.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ~Aristotle

What is Your “Authentic Self”?

What do I mean by “the real you” or “your Authentic Self”? I mean the real, true, unedited, unfiltered, totally authentic you. I’m not talking about the version of you that others expect or demand that you be. I’m not talking about the version of you that you created in order to fit in and be accepted within the cultural or societal norms you live in. I’m not talking about the version of you that you think you should be. I’m talking about the Real You that honestly and fearlessly expresses your completely unique talents and perspectives.

We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us. ~Jean-Paul Sartre

So I ask you again: who are you really? It’s an important question, because if you really knew the answer to it, you’d also know what you want out of life and what you want to be when you grow up (no matter how old you currently are). Most of us don’t know who we really are, and even as adults, most of us still have no idea what we want to be when we “grow up”. And if you’ve spent a lifetime trying to turn your Self into something that other people think you should be it can be near impossible to even recognize your Authentic Self anymore.  Without help, that is…

Who Are You? 5 Exercises to Reveal Your Authentic Self

In order to find out more about who you really are, it helps to look at who you’ve been. In looking at what you like most about your life to date, you can learn an awful lot about your key passions, strengths, desires, motivators and values. All of which are essential elements of Who You Really Are. And understanding these essential elements will help you to figure out what you really want out of life. And once you’ve got that part figured out, you’ll be able to go after it and get it.

Ex. 1:  Show me the love.  Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of everything that you love about life, the universe and everything. Who do you love most in your life and why? What are the qualities that really make you sparkle when you see them/feel them? What activities do you absolutely love to do? Add as many things to this list as possible, then look at your items to see if you can spot any common themes within these elements. Your deepest passions are often concealed within the things you love most.

Ex. 2: Your gold star moments. Make a list of things you’ve been successful at throughout your life. What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of? What are you really good at? What types of things can you do easily? The answers in this exercise give you insight into your greatest strengths.

Ex. 3: A life without fear. Make a list of everything you would love to do if you were absolutely fearless. What would you love to do if were no limits, and you were absolutely guaranteed that no one would judge you. Would you perform on stage? Would you showcase your paintings in an art exhibit? Publish your book? Create a charitable organization? In your heart of hearts, what are things that you most want to do? These are your deepest, most heartfelt desires.

Ex. 4: No limitations, no boundaries. If you were handed one billion dollars tomorrow with no strings attached, what would you do? (Yeah, yeah you’d buy a car and dream home and maybe a private jet or an island or something, give some money to friends and family maybe, and then lounge around on a beach for a couple of months, but what would you do after that?) If you knew without doubt that you would never have to worry about finances ever again; that you would never have to work another day in your life; that you could do absolutely anything you wanted to… what would your typical day look like? What would you do with your time?

This exercise is designed to help you think without limits. If there were absolutely no limits and no boundaries… what would you do? What would you choose to do if you didn’t have to do anything? In these answers you’ll find clues to what real motivators are, and what you really want to do with your life.

Ex. 5: Get star-struck. Who do you admire most, and why? Who are your heroes (past or present) and what is it that you admire most about them? Who or what really inspires you? The answers to these questions will help you to determine your core values. And what’s really interesting about this exercise is that the qualities that you admire in others are qualities that are also in you, whether you’re aware of them or not.

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose.  ~Richard Grant

When you choose to let go of what is expected and instead allow yourself to become what you are, you open the door to true happiness. Taking the time to go through these exercises will help you become more aware of your Authentic Self by giving you insight into your key passions, strengths, desires, motivators and values. Understanding these key elements will help you to figure out who you really want to be and what you really want to do with the next chapter of your life!

photo credit: cc

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