The true self is considered to be your ‘authentic self’. My question to you is what would happen if you discover your so-called ‘authentic self’? You start saying “this is me” and “I have discovered myself”. Don’t you realize that once you have discovered, the quest ends? You conveniently slip into your comfort zone.
How can you discover yourself without action? In fact self-discovery is hard work which people are not willing to undertake. They fall into the trap of such assessments and labels which provide them with convenient excuses to avoid hard work.
The excuse that one should only do those things which comes naturally, or one is passionate about or to ones liking is one of the most used and I would say abused way of destroying personal growth.
Let’s say that you are a person who has been labeled an ‘introvert’ through some study or assessment and have fear of speaking before a group. Most often we are told that since it is highly stressful for you in groups, let’s provide you with a context where you will not be required to speak in groups or be provided with roles which does not demand working with others. This is so limiting, isn’t it?
Rather than helping you become more confident and skilled in speaking and presenting before groups, such statements cater to the individual’s demand to avoid work thereby essentially validating a fixed mindset and a lack of flexibility.
A problem with this view I find is people tend to feel entitled to perform only those tasks or roles which feel natural or easy for them. If they find something hard or difficult then they say “I am not a natural and I don’t have to do this”
In over three decades of working with people, helping them find their authentic self, using personality assessments, I have come to realize that they have often limited growth than helped. People have used ‘authenticity’ as a way to excuse themselves from doing things outside of their comfort zones and only do those things which are easy and of least effort.
If you look at all those great people who have achieved considerable success in life and you would like to emulate, they did not use “this is who I am and this is my true-self” as a phrase to stop seeking things which they wanted to. In fact almost all of them went out of their comfort zones and worked tirelessly to achieve what they wanted to.
I have seen people say that they are not ‘creative’, ‘introverted’, ‘agreeable’ and ‘not so conscientious’ just cause some personality test revealed it to them. Do not take the easy path of discovering yourself through these tests. Rather ask yourself the question – “How can be more creative?”; “What skills do I need to become creative?”. Put yourself in situations where you will be required to socialize and interact with a whole bunch of people and you will see that your social / extraversion ability will improve. Learn to ‘negotiate’ and say ‘no’ and when you do that often you will overcome your problems with high levels of agreeableness.
I am coming from this question which is often asked in my workshops on self-awareness and personality that “if personality is innate and cannot be changed?” Even I have been guilty of selling the idea that it is more or less fixed and can’t be altered.
When I reflect on it, I come to realize that I have myself limited my growth at times and not done some things in life because I started to believe in this nonsense of ‘true self’ and the ‘true me’. I found out that I was always doing things out of my comfort zone playing a child, a student, a teacher, a husband, a parent, a colleague and an entrepreneur. I didn’t’ ever have or use the phrase “this is me and that’s all I can or am happy to do” to avoid responsibility and growth.
I am not suggesting that personality assessments are not good. All I am saying is that those tests which tend to ‘label’ you into types should be discarded immediately. Till date I have found only one personality assessment which provides immense flexibility and infact goes on to scientifically prove that personality does change over a period of time and can also be altered to the context you are in is the ‘Big 5’ personality traits assessment. Even that I would say shouldn’t be used to justify your limitations, instead you must use it to look at ways and means of developing those aspects of your personality which will help you achieve your ‘future state’.
Don’t fall prey to labeling and start to believe in it so much that you forego the power to choose who you want to be. Let me tell you that ‘authenticity’ is about being honest about facing facts and not justifying your limitations. It is what you believe in.
All I am saying is “you should be true to who you want to be and not what you were in the past”
Only when you have a ‘goal’ you can ‘score’