I reckon I’ve had more clients telling me they don’t know who they are in the last year, than in my previous 40 years working as a therapist. In the past, the issues I saw regularly were to do with self in relation to family. People would feel trapped by family conditioning, or controlled, neglected or unsupported, or they had family members who rejected or suppressed their hopes and dreams.
The next group of issues were to do with low self-worth, self-judgment and self-sabotage, and interestingly this came with the social media era. Over-investing in virtual personas can, over time, move us away from our real selves. Watching other people’s personas and comparing ourselves to them also contributes to confusion about who we are.
In the last couple of years of big social changes (social destabilization), mental health and wellbeing concerns have increased. From my perspective it’s as if all of these things snowballed leading to where we are now – many people feeling confused about who they are, and finding it more difficult to understand themselves but also others.
From the therapeutic perspective, it’s all good! Self-growth is the journey we are destined to be on and it feels like we’re coming to ‘who am I and what am I here for?’ crunch time. This is the opening for the quest for the cosmic self, the ultimate trip in our life on earth, to launch. We’ve been waiting for this, and we need to grab this opportunity and go looking for the answers!
Where do we start? Well, forget google. And we can’t turn to family members for this either. Our true self / cosmic self is mapped to be united with all there is, so when we incarnate we instinctively seek union which in the first instance is always via a family bond. But because each family member has an individual agenda, you can get easily caught in a karmic chain, and that’s a destiny derailer.
So to re-discover your true self a good tool to start with is ‘distance’. Make some emotional space for your journey. ‘Distance’ is the feeling that what happens out there will happen out there, but what happens within you is all yours.
In terms of family, distance doesn’t mean separating or cutting off, but being aware of the forces at play. Even if you have a loving supportive family, for your own cosmic self journey you might need some distance. If you have stressful family interactions, Chinese herbal formulas (the chill-out liver-chi movers) can help by creating the emotional state of being an observer, interested but distanced.
Distance a bit from mundane reality too. As social change intensifies things become more chaotic, confusing and entangling. It takes a huge amount of energy to hold your position in an entangled situation – whether it’s a global one or a relationship one – because entanglement has no resolution. The upshot is depression, anxiety, or an exhausting heaviness and these take us away from knowing who we are. Get back in harmony with the cycles of the sun, moon, stars and seasons. The rhythms of nature always carry us closer to who we really are, because we are part of everything.
Apply distance to social media by scheduling scrolling to a 7 minute limit, as after that it can become negative and a toxic chi generator. This also frees up more time to get in touch with our inner world, and a shortcut to that is creativity, because creativity is a property of the soul. The fundamental reality (Dao) is pure good, and it is the wellspring of creativity. There’s online courses in everything imaginable now; how to draw or paint or make jewellery, and creativity quickly becomes fully absorbing shifting your consciousness inwards (I play the keyboard for this – jazz).
And of course all spiritual techniques distance us from painful emotionality and strengthen the sense of self. You don’t need to find a monk, or a temple or a sacred space, a good breathing technique can take you there. Try simple square breathing and feel the space expand around you.