We all have voices in our heads; many voices speaking at the same time. I have always wondered: Is that voice me? Which voice is the real me? Am I the one talking or the one listening? Am I the one judging or the one feeling judged? Taking that line of questioning a little further, I wonder: Is it possible that I am both the person listening and the one talking? Is it possible that I am neither?
Who we are goes beyond what is happening in our mind. It goes deeper than the voices in our head. It also goes beyond how we feel. For example, I can be happy and I can be sad; neither says anything about who I am. It is simply how I am feeling (internal) in any given situation (external). I am more than just my feelings just as I am more than my thoughts or my physical body.
I believe there are three interdependent realms necessary for helping us discover and connect to our authentic self – the physical (body), intellectual (mind) and spiritual (soul). The real me exists somewhere in the middle. It’s like a Venn diagram of sorts. I exist at the point where all three intersect. Reaching inward to connect with our authentic self includes connecting to the world through all three realms.
If we can appreciate ourselves from all three perspectives – mind, body, spirit – it may help to quiet the voices that dominant our minds to give the other two a chance. Our authentic self does not only identify with any one thought or feeling in particular. It goes beyond the voices in our head or what we are feeling in any particular moment. It is deeper than our day-to-day experiences.
Much attention is paid these days only to the mind and what we think. And, it is a very important part of the process. In fact, Norman Vincent Peale says, “you are not what you think you are; but what you think, you are.” When I was studying counselling, I connected deeply with narrative therapy. The underlying theory is that people are experts in their own lives. We speak our lives into existence (what you think, you are). Our lives are our stories, and we are the author.
Self-authorship is the ability to make meaningful connections between our self and our experiences. It is realizing that we are more than just our thoughts or feelings or even our experiences. We need to learn how to live the four dimensions of self-authorship by making (and trusting) decisions based on what we know to be true, balancing external forces with our individual perspective, establishing an internal identity (strength) that enables us to act on what we know deep down to be true while balancing external forces; and, having confidence that we can direct our own life.
As we balance the external forces with our internal knowing or understanding of truth, we begin to discover and trust our true self. The process includes engaging with our environment in meaningful ways through all three realms: movement for the development of the body (physical), critical thinking for the development of the mind (cognitive), and mindfulness for the development of the spirit (“spiritus” which is Latin for “breath”).
For the body – move, dance, play.
For the mind – read, write, ponder.
For the spirit – be present, be open, be grateful; breathe.
It is by bringing these three realms together in our day-to-day life that we become more closely connected to our true self.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein