Three Forces You Must Defeat to Find the True Self

Filed in Finding & Following Your Voice by on December 23, 2014 • views: 1032

True Self“There are many ways to kill off the true self,” writes former Presbyterian pastor Paul Rademacher. “My weapon of choice was the ministry.”

A great book about personal discovery and finding one’s own inner voice, A Spiritual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe by Rademacher tells the story of one man’s struggle to first, figure out what his purpose is in life, and second, to find the courage to live that purpose, despite his many fears of what that might mean.

As he tracks his own back-and-forth progress toward fulfilling his destiny—sometimes moving toward it, other times away—he often reflects on the many forces that work against us as we try to follow that inner calling.

The first force? The opinion of others.

Fear of What Others May Think

“We seek to please,” he writes, “sometimes to our own detriment.” Though popular self-help literature would convince us that only certain people are afflicted with the “people-pleasing” personality flaw, in truth, we are all social animals, and most of us do care what other people think, regardless of how we may shout otherwise. It’s when we let that concern stop us from taking actions toward our dreams that we’re giving into insecurities, and caring too much.

“…we wilt under the glare of public opinion,” Rademacher writes. Indeed, it takes courage and a strong faith in ourselves to stand up and walk to the rhythm of our own drum. And it takes something else—a desire to stop the fight within and allow the inner and outer self to finally be one and the same.

Fear of Material Poverty

The second force working against us is the fear of material poverty. “Most of the people I counseled,” writes Rademacher, “when asked why they haven’t followed their heart’s desire, responded by saying that they were afraid of not making enough money.”

Most of us can relate to this fear—especially in today’s shaky economy. Leaving that steady job, no matter how wrong it may be for us, can be a horribly frightening idea. There are all the books that say “do what you love and the money will follow,” but how can we be sure? Truth is we can’t, and we know it. So where does that leave us?

Fear of Our Own Power

The third force working against us is the fear of embracing our own genius. “Though I didn’t realize it at the time,” writes Rademacher, “I needed the excuse of providing for my family. It allowed me to avoid dealing with my own power.” To our logical selves, this seems silly. Why would we fear what’s special about us? According to Rademacher, it all comes back to our fear of other’s opinions.

“To embrace our genius means stepping out of the protective shadows of anonymity. If we’re true to our calling, we’ll no longer blend in with the crowd. Our radiance will expose us to the merciless ridicule reserved for those who dare to be unique.”

Fear of what others will think. Fear of not making enough money. Fear of shining just a little too brightly.

It all comes down to fear.

What Will Be Enough for You?

What does it take to step beyond these things we’re afraid of? As with most fearful situations, it’s when it feels worse to stay where we are then it does to face the fear of what’s ahead that we finally pick up our feet…and move.

“[I]f I kept this journey secret,” Rademacher says, referring to his own trek into a new kind of spiritual life, “I would be condemning myself to a profession that was becoming increasingly meaningless—successful in outward appearances, but devoid of any genuine, life-changing significance.”

Taking the safe road may lead to a life of contentment, but will that be enough for you?

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Comments (4)

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  1. Chere Hagopian says:

    So true- most of what holds us back from doing what we should do is fear. I loved what you said about the opinions of others- we all actually care what other people think. We just need to set that care aside when necessary.

    Fear of poverty can be a valid fear for anyone in the arts. Creativity doesn’t always pay the bills. For me that means being creative in my spare time. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a poet when I grew up. She answered, “Yes, but what are you going to do for a paying job?” Sad but true.

    • Colleen says:

      Right? I think we have been beating ourselves up too much for caring about how others see us. We are social animals for sure. I think really the key is learning how to tune into our own thoughts and learning to trust ourselves more.

      Ha ha ha. Typical parental caution, right? And unfortunately, wise advice in today’s world. That’s cool that you knew at such an early age that you loved poetry, though!

  2. Anita says:

    I love this post. It’s uncanny how our biggest obstacles in life always seem to be ourselves. I enjoyed the quotes you used as well.