We keep looking inside, trying to change our attitudes and thinking.
Coaxed and coerced by the pressure of self-help and pop psychology advice, we seek our true inner self.
What a stupid enterprise.
Introspection is good.
Learning how you react in certain situations, learning what you like doing and what you are good at, and what you don’t, may be helpful.
But, trying to change yourself at the same time at which you try to find some true self deep within you?
Breathlessly (or observing your breath meditatively) hunting after some deep and fundamental unchanging truth of oneself in a world that requires constant change and has us always shift?
You, in your truest self, aren’t there.
You are and you act differently whenever you get into a different situation. And you have to.
Being a parent is not the same as being a child, after all.
So, you will act differently with your kids than you do with your parents.
Try acting the same way you express your deepest truth of yourself when you are talking to your boss instead of your baby, and see where it leads, if you don’t believe me.
Yes, of course, you will still be, and certainly feel, recognizably you.
(Once you stop and take the time to do that… but when you are most yourself, supposedly, is in an action, in flow, when you do not try to get in touch with a core you, but forgot there is a you in the first place.)
You will still have a tendency to be more or less assertive, talkative, combative, friendly… but even that, only within a certain range around which things change depending on the context you find yourself in.
The sooner you realize that the search for a deep unchanging true self is just making you chase around in circles gazing at your own navel, the sooner you can realize that you are only in what you do and how you do it.
That doesn’t have to be your being the greatest hustler, the super-rock-star so aware of him-/herself that everyone will bow to your self-realization.
It just has to be a halfway decent human being, a person with all the usual smooth corners and rough edges.
Work on those you’d like to change by doing things differently, setting yourself up for different behaviors and habits (if you really feel you must).
And leave well enough alone in those cases where you feel powerless or, let alone, where it doesn’t matter enough.
You won’t find your true self by looking within, chasing an ideal actually imposed on you from an outside wanting you to feel bad about the non-ideal you find inside.
That is both a lie about the way we are, and a ploy so they can sell you even more of their books and courses, fashion items and aspirational products.