So, you've scavenged the Internet for the hottest tips to find your 'true' self and found nothing besides the usual 'find what you're good at, realize who you are, pursue your passions' advice. What I'm going to suggest is radically different.
Awhile back, I was also on the hunt for finding myself. I was intrigued by finding hidden pockets of potential inside of me. As I type this up, I realize how stupid it sounds. The thought that I am hiding parts of myself from myself is irrational. Instead of browsing more articles, I questioned what the self was and what I realized shattered every mainstream belief.
The authentic self doesn't exist.
Before you run away, let me explain this by borrowing an analogy from Eckhart Tolle.
Let's pretend you are in a room, and someone asks you to describe it.
You would point out the walls, the ceiling, the plants, and the furniture. You would list off all the things that you notice. But the one thing that you would miss would be the space. Space is the essence of the room. You can't point it out and say, "That is space. There it is." It is intangible, yet it is there. You cannot describe it as an object. Space is implied. Yet, without space, the room wouldn't exist.
Let's apply this analogy to the mind. The mind generates thoughts, feelings, and emotions every moment. Mistakingly, we believe this is the self. The self that our thoughts create is a concoction of what goes on in our heads. It's like the walls, ceiling, plants, and furniture in the room. So what is space then? It is the awareness of our thoughts and feelings. The self is the consciousness of our minds and the recognition of the imaginary and illusory identity the mind creates. You cannot see it as an object, just like you cannot identify space. Few people realize the elephant in the room. Once you become present and aware of the illusion the mind projects, you can do incredible things.
You can use the power of consciousness to channel the thoughts, feeling, and emotions of people you admire.
Since you know that your thoughts are not you, you can use your awareness to change them. An alter ego is a 'second self,' but I like to think of it as a temporary replacement for your current mind space. If you have a fear of public speaking and minutes before a big presentation, a rush of negative thoughts, anxiety, and stress flood your mind, you can use the alter ego to empower you. If you admire the way Gary Vaynerchuk, a famous entrepreneur, speaker, and author, gives speeches, think about what thoughts he would have before a talk. See yourself dominating the stage like Vaynerchuk. Imagine yourself giving down-to-earth advice while making the audience laugh. Slowly, your negative thoughts will fade, and you begin to adopt the mind space of Vaynerchuk before he gives a keynote talk.
If you don't believe this works, maybe Beyonce's story can convince you. When she was a little girl, Beyonce was a reserved member of the church choir who had an excellent voice. As her career advanced, she had to participate in more dynamic and flashy performances. To preserve her familiar identity, she created an alter ego named Sasha Fierce, who she embodied when she wanted to appear fun, glamorous, and aggressive. David Bowie also had many alter egos, his most famous one Ziggy Stardust.
An alter ego helps you overcome fears, pursue high goals, and demolish doubts. To create one, determine the purpose of your alter ego. Will it help you get better at playing the guitar? Will you use it to encourage you to save more and spend less? You can create alter egos for anything in life. Next, name the ego after a person, animal, or family member you have an emotional connection to. If Warren Buffet doesn't inspire you to learn about money and stocks, then he is not the right ego for you. Make sure it's someone or something you know a lot about. The easier it is to visualize a detailed image of your alter ego, the better. After choosing your character, you have to embody how they talk, move, think, breathe, believe, etc. Act how they would act. Do they slump their shoulders before giving a talk, or do they roll their shoulders back and take slow breaths? A small physical object or talisman you touch can help activate the small physical cues and put you in the right mindset. You can also stimulate the character by reading about them, listening to their voice, watching them through video, or thinking of them through a photo. Now that you have fully embodied the imaginary self, step out of your comfort zone and accelerate your growth.
There is no reason to wake up and be the same person every day. Thoughts and feelings are fleeting and changing. Maximize this opportunity by using an alter ego. Sometimes, the space in the room is what we are mostly oblivious to, but holds the most significance.
- Jarrett, C. (2017, December 6). There is no such thing as the true self, but it’s still a useful psychological concept. Research Digest. Retrieved from digest.bps.org.uk/2017/08/22/there-is-no-such-thing-as-the-true-self-but-its-still-a-useful-psychological-concept/
- Thagard, P. (2014, June 23). What Is the Self? Psychology Today. Retrieved from psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hot-thought/201406/what-is-the-self
- Tolle, E. (2019, April 24). What Is Self? Timeless Wisdom From The Archives. YouTube. Retrieved from youtube.com/watch?v=fPs510TWiOw
- Tolle, E. (2015, May 24). Eckhart Tolle - Pure Consciousness And The Awareness Of Space: Eckhart Tolle Spiritual Teacher. YouTube. Retrieved from youtube.com/watch?v=1OGj-_pxjw8
- Denning, T. (2019, May 14). How to Become Insanely Powerful Using an Alter Ego. Medium. Retrieved from medium.com/swlh/how-to-become-insanely-powerful-using-an-alter-ego-2b0c147cfcbb
- Fabrega, M. (2017, May 17). How to Create an Alter Ego (and Why You Should Want To). Retrieved from daringtolivefully.com/alter-ego