One of the things I hear most often from my clients is that they yearn for a deeper connection; a deeper connection with themselves, with other people, with their environment, and with their overall existence.
So how do we go about developing a deeper connection so we can feel better about ourselves and life in general?
Let me tell you about the two sides of our personality and how an imbalance can cause us to feel well, disconnected.
Our Two Selves
One of the foundational elements of living with more joy is the reconciliation of the two sides to our personality: the essential self and the social self.
The social self is the side of our personality that we’re most familiar with. It develops in response to our surroundings. This includes the family you were born into, where and how you live, cultural norms, and societal expectations. The social self cares about what other people think and wants to please them and adapts accordingly.
The essential self, on the other hand, contains your genetic code. This includes your desires, talents, preferences, and emotional reactions all tied together to form your identity, your true nature. Your essential self isn’t influenced by the family you were born into or where you grew up. It’s the essential self that leads you to your most desired life circumstances.
How the Two Sides Communicate
Whereas the social self communicates through language and logic, the essential self communicates through the body: feelings, emotions and sensations.
A Healthy Balance
A healthy balance of the social and essential selves is important to living a life you enjoy. However, many times these two selves are out of balance and in direct conflict with each other.
More often than not, we allow our social selves to take the lead and make the majority of our life decisions while never even considering the desires of our essential self, our true nature.
The Importance of Connection
When the lines of communication between the social and essential selves are not connected, creating an unhealthy balance between the two, you can expect to feel disconnected, unhappy, anxious, and frustrated. After all, your true essence isn’t getting the consideration it needs.
Reconnecting with the part of you that is untouched by outside influences, your essential self, is the way to living a life that feels the most authentic to who you really are. The journey, although not easy, is undoubtedly worth every small step you take.
My Personal Breakthrough
Up until I turned 40, I loved my career. I had important work that I enjoyed, I worked with great people, and my responsibilities were ever evolving keeping my work challenging and interesting. And, my life outside of work was equally enjoyable. I was living the life I dreamed of and worked very hard to create.
The Battle Begins
Once I got into my 40’s, things began to change. My social self took the lead.
Over the course of the next decade, I found myself saying “yes” to what was expected of me (my social self) without even considering what I really wanted (my essential self). I was so busy living up to everyone else’s expectations (social self) that over time, I completely lost the connection to who I was and what I wanted (essential self).
My Social Self Gains Strength
By the end of this decade, I was living a full life of serving other people’s expectations of me; the company, my family, society, and the infamous “everyone.”
Remember: The social self communicates through language and logic.
Excessive fatigue all day, every day was my SMO (standard mode of operation). I began each day forcing myself out of bed and then every step of the way until my head hit the pillow at night. My body was screaming for me to stop.
A life that I had envisioned and worked so hard for now felt meaningless and tedious. Not knowing what to do or what to change, I just kept going.
My Social Self Was Strong
And then the day came, a shocking, catastrophic reorganization. My coveted and admired job was eliminated, along with everyone else’s in the entire company. A perfect opportunity to make a change, but not knowing what I wanted next and afraid of leaving a prosperous and secure position; I hung on to the only life I knew.
Note: The social self makes decisions from a place of fear.
I held on for another 18 months until I had no choice; I had to let go or continue to die a slow death.
My Essential Self Breaks Through
After 9 years of working for this company, I woke up one spring morning and made the decision to finally leave and pursue my passion for yoga and my 10-year dream of opening my own studio. Once I made the decision to pursue my dream, I never looked back.
The essential self communicates through the body: feelings, emotions, and sensations makes decisions from a place of deep desire and love.
On my final day in corporate America, I drove out of the parking lot and away from a life that no longer served me, and towards a life completely new and unknown.
I finally chose ME and I never felt so free. The kind of free I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid, on a warm summer day, riding around on my Schwinn bicycle that I converted with stingray handle bars and a banana seat.
Although I chose to share the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever made to begin reconnecting with my essential self, you don’t have to make a big leap to start reconnecting and rebalancing your two selves.
- Can you think of a situation you’re in right now where your social self is running the show?
- How do you feel when your social self is leading your life and completely ignoring your essential self?
- What’s one small step you can take to reconnect with your essential self in this situation?
- Take one small step. Then take another one, then another one, and keep going.
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You may also enjoy my article How Focused Daily Decisions Can Lead to Big Results. You can get it here.
Sandra is a business and life coach who specializes in helping clients who are craving a change but feel stuck where they are. Sandra helps them discover a new vision of the future and follow through on their ideas with enthusiasm and confidence. With a diverse background that spans more than three decades, Sandra combines her educator’s perspective, business acumen, life coaching skills, and everything she’s learned along the way to help her clients make bold moves that advance them forward in their careers and in their lives. When she’s not working, Sandra loves practicing yoga, traveling, cultural experiences, and enjoying the desert southwest.