I can say with confidence that the moment a person truly starts down the path of self-discovery, they will never turn back. Many may ask the question, "What is self-discovery?" or "What do you mean you don't know who you are?"
The American English Dictionary defines self-discovery as follows:
"a becoming aware of one's true potential, character, motives, etc."
Ignorance towards my true self is something I lived with for a long time. Self-discovery means many things. It means finding your purpose in life (we all have a purpose), it means digging deep into your childhood and revealing the experiences that shaped you... good and bad. It means realizing what your beliefs are and living by them. The effects of self-discovery include happiness, fulfillment, clarity and maybe even enlightenment! The journey however is not always an easy road. The journey includes fear, confusion, misunderstanding, doubt and literally re-visiting all your choices in life. I like to refer to it as spring-cleaning of the mind, your emotions and your surroundings (including the people in your life). It requires making some tough decisions and sticking to them. My journey so far has seen me cut people out of my life. I call them the "takers." They were takers because I allowed them to be and it wasn't until I realized that many of these relationships were one-sided -- self-discovery -- that I decided to cut them out. It has also seen me completely change the course of my life and start to follow my true passion and purpose (this blog). I have also started to set intentions and no longer have expectations from others -- okay... this one is really hard for me and it's a work in progress -- but instead I have started to look within for answers. I've had several set backs along the way and I have no doubt I will have many more but, I'm not giving up.
What I know for sure is that the journey is worth taking. I am slowly becoming calmer, more aware and more tolerant. I am learning how to pay attention to my feelings and understand myself better.
What I know for sure is that I have been very hard on myself for most of my life. I have not been truthful with myself and have had unrealistic expectations therefore, setting myself up for disappointment. Why do we do this? Why do we lie to ourselves? And more importantly, why do we allow ourselves to get away with it? When someone else lies to me and I find out about it I freak out. "How dare he lie to me? Does she think I'm stupid?" but, we lie to ourselves profusely and even cover up our own lies by accepting them as truth in order to reassure ourselves that it's okay??!?!?!
For example: I have body image issues. I have always had body image issues yet covered it up by lying to myself. When I was 14 I even tried to starve myself thin. I would convince myself that I was happy with the way I looked when deep down I knew I wasn't. I worked so hard to cover up how I really felt by masking my true feelings. "I'm happy with my hips" I would tell myself and "I like my perky butt," even though deep down I hated the way I looked. I'm not implying that what I was feeling was a good thing but, it was what I was feeling and ignoring it, or pretending it didn't exist was doing no good to me -- or my body image issues. Eventually, it became exhausting. Recently, I started working on accepting the fact that I have body image issues and acknowledging my feelings towards them. I am not suppressing the feelings I have anymore instead, I am admitting to them therefore diminishing the threat they once held upon me and reducing the hold they had on my life. There comes a freedom with accepting your feelings and emotions. It's like a release of some sort. Like you've identified the elephant in the room and waved at him so you no longer have to pretend he's not there. Once you acknowledge the elephant in the room he doesn't bother you anymore. You learn to co-exist and be okay with his presence and not allow him to control how you act and feel anymore.
What I know for sure is that being true to my feelings and acknowledging them as well as validating them has released so much fear in me. It has released my fear of not being good enough as well as my fear of not living up to the expectations I set for myself. What I know for sure is that we are usually our own worst enemy. We hold ourselves back in so many ways and I am ready to move away from that pattern. I'm not suggesting that these fears no longer exist within me because they certainly do and, I don't think they will ever go away but now that I am aware of my true feelings and now that I am becoming conscious of my real beliefs, they no longer have a strangle hold on my life. Instead, I have a hold on how they can or cannot affect me.
My message is this... Stop being your own worst enemy! Stop lying to yourself about your emotions and feelings and start accepting them and allowing yourself to feel whatever is it you feel. The freedom you will feel within yourself is reward enough however, the universe will give you back the love that you have finally and justifiably started to give yourself. This I promise you!
"When I discover who I am, I'll be free."
-- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Until next time...
To read more articles by Eleni visit her Blog at: http://www.thechatterboxx.com.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
Follow Eleni Makedonas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheBoxxChatter
What can be a more amazing travel journey than life itself? Think about this question. It is important.
Each of us is born on this planet for a certain purpose. We all have a certain mission to realize in life.
It can be anything: creating a family, becoming a banker or spending one’s whole life on the road. The most important thing is to know: this is what you are supposed to do.
Quite often, unfortunately, many of us do not have this feeling – the feeling of wholeness, the feeling of belonging, the feeling of happiness. Instead we perform, or procrastinate or try to conform to certain rules imposed on us by society, without stopping for a second and asking ourselves: am I content? Am I doing what I really want to do?
Realizing our full potential and finding our true self is the true travel journey of life.
Not long ago, when I was yet again changing countries of residence, a friend of mine told me a very important thing:
“Ekaterina,” he said, “I know why you are moving, but never forget that whatever your destination, you always take yourself with you. Finding yourself is your true destination.”
The Road Ahead
For more than ten years my life has been that of a traveler. Even though for the majority of these ten years I had an apartment and a steady job, I was still traveling. I was traveling in my mind, I was changing countries and I was always looking for a better place, a better world.
Being born in the Soviet Union, in my first years of life I had quite a simple image of what life should be: first you become a pioneer (the first grade on the scale of communism), then a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcomsomol’ (the second grade on the scale of communism) and finally, if you are the best, you become a communist.
My gradation stopped at the first scale, along with that simple vision of reality as soon as the political regime changed.
However, what didn’t change was the belief that in order to succeed in society one has to perform, one has to Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgraduate’. The goal was no longer a final communist grade; it became something else, but it all came down to the same gradation system the majority of us are taught to achieve – almost from the day we are born.
You have to do this, you have to become that, you have to be better and work harder than others, and you have to be like everyone else. Because of these rules, slowly but surely we tend to take a road opposite to our true destination.
At some point in my life I achieved my Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcommunist’ grade. I was leading a life many people would find ideal.
With a title of financial analyst and portfolio manager, living in the center of Amsterdam, speaking four languages and in possession of a membership in the most prestigious sport club of the city, I had everything one can wish for in life. But in reality I had nothing at all.
I was losing myself, I was simply performing, thinking that life is about having a prestigious job, a cool apartment and a nice salary. And only my terrible stomach pains and the crying during the night were clear indicators that the ‘ideal’ life I led was actually quite miserable.
One day I decided to create my own gradation system, or to be more precise, the absence of any gradation system. I stopped performing.
First, I canceled my membership to the sport club. Second, I changed jobs, agreeing to a lower salary and a less prestigious title simply to allow myself to find my own journey. Third, I started to write.
Being in love with books all my life I always wanted to share stories, and regardless of whether I am an unpublished or published writer, writing for myself is something that gives me the best satisfaction of all.
Finally, I started to follow the signs – the signs of life, trying to see who am I, what I am doing in this life and why?
I asked myself: what do I really like to do?
Journey of Wonder
The discovery of signs led me to an important realization: Life is a journey of wonder.
If I stayed in my gradation niche I would probably never have discovered bio-dance as a perfect alternative to the gym, gentle respiration techniques to make me calm and Tarot reading as a perfect activity for spending time when I am on my own.
All this resulted in the fact that, yet again, I changed my country of residence. I moved from Amsterdam to Brussels, the city where I had gone to university and where I couldn’t stay after my studies due to my Russian citizenship at that time.
I came back to this city without a grade, with a Dutch passport and as a new person. I realized one of the most important lessons in life: whatever your nationality, profession, salary or the net amount your house costs, the only real thing in life is you.
All stories have the same line. A hero leaves his village for the discovery of the world.
His first obstacle comes when he is on the road: he has to choose his destination. His second obstacle is during the journey. He has to fight the enemies. And finally, he has the most important choice: does he continue the journey or go back to the village?
We are all heroes on the road. And the most important journey for all of us is to meet our true selves. Apart from external enemies, quite often the biggest villain lies within, and this villain in the majority of cases is our own ego. Finding our soul and realizing our true potential is where our village lies.
As Paolo Coelho once said: “Never give up on your dreams, – follow the signs.”