Many things can stand in the way of reconnecting to our true selves.
“Adulthood is filled with all kinds of stressors, responsibilities, and sacrifices that can leave us feeling disheartened and disillusioned,” said Casey Radle, LPC, a therapist who specializes in anxiety, depression and self-esteem.
These never-ending responsibilities and productivity pressures can sap our energy and more, she said. “I know I have used the term ‘soul-sucking’ to describe many things throughout my adult life.”
Trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations — your parents, spouse, kids, boss, society — is another significant hurdle, she said.
Below, Radle shared the many ways we can reconnect to our core selves regularly.
Depleting Activities & Beliefs
“[C]onduct an assessment of all the things you’re doing that deplete your energy levels,” said Radle, who practices at Eddins Counseling Group. Consider the aspects of your life that might be hindering your ability to nurture your authentic self, she said.
For instance, you might be holding onto fears of failure, success, change and the unknown. You might be overly focused on pleasing others, “sacrificing your needs to help meet everyone else’s dreams, wants, and needs.” You might think you don’t deserve good things or that your dreams don’t matter, she said.
Once you’ve identified what’s standing in your way, work through it. According to Radle, consider these questions: “What am I waiting for? What am I afraid of? What’s getting in my way? What beliefs are holding me back? Are there alternate ways of thinking or other perspectives I could take? Who am I blaming and what would it take to stop blaming him/her/them/me?”
Avoid creating “what-if” scenarios, fretting about your future, and focusing on regrets, past mistakes and missed opportunities. Instead, refocus on the present, she said. Devote your energy toward things you can actually control or influence, she said.
If you believe you don’t deserve compassionate self-care, such as getting restful sleep and surrounding yourself with supportive people, start with these actions, anyway. Movement can help our thoughts come around (and even if our negative thoughts don’t budge, we still reap the benefits of healthy, enjoyable activities).
“I think recuperation and recharging activities serve as the top layer of reconnecting with our authentic selves,” Radle said. She suggested reflecting on the times in your life you’ve felt joyful, energized, carefree and your true self.
Once you identify these activities, brainstorm how you can incorporate them into your everyday.
Radle shared these ideas for nourishing activities: drawing, dancing, singing, unplugging from technology, exercising (in fun and relaxing ways), getting a massage, engaging in hobbies, and asking for what you need.
Journaling also is helpful for reconnecting to our core selves, because it gives us the opportunity to dig deeper and gain clarity about ourselves.
Radle suggested keeping a gratitude journal and responding to these questions:
- When did you feel really competent? “Think of examples from several phases throughout your life (elementary school, middle school, high school, college/early adulthood, the present),” and “describe them in detail.” What patterns or themes do you notice?
- How would you like to be remembered? What would you like to be included in your obituary?
- “If you had endless amounts of money, time, and energy, what would you do?”
- What is your ideal day? Describe it in detail, “from the time you wake up until the moment you fall asleep.”
- “How do you want to be perceived? What do you wish people knew about you? How do those differ from how you’re currently being perceived [or] what people know about you now?”
- What would you like more of in your life? What would you like less of?
- Who do you miss? Why do you miss them?
- “When do you feel most vibrant, energized, powerful, and/or alive?”
- “When was the last time you couldn’t help but smile? Why?”
According to Radle, “When we reconnect with our authentic selves, our batteries will be recharged, and we can tap into energy resources that we probably forgot we even had. With that energy and lightness restored, there’s no telling what we might be able to accomplish and how our relationships might improve.”