With all the messages that we get from friends, family and society about who we are, should be or need to be, your true self can feel caged behind bars of expectations. Like the tiger in the cage that would not leave when the gate was open to be set free, we can keep our genuine selves caught behind old conditioning long after the restraining situation has changed. You can take new perspectives to help your true self get out of the cage and into the open.

Appreciate what you cannot do

Our inabilities are most likely other people’s skills and visa versa. When you realize that you cannot do something — acknowledge it, appreciate it and seek out the person who has the capability. Since life is about relationships, our inabilities move us to make contact with others and ultimately, create partnerships. If you have an accountant, hair dresser, plumber, lawyer, banker, house cleaner or any person assisting you in life, you have created a partnership. Interdependence is how we thrive and create balance in life.

Listen to your first thoughts

Impressions, ideas and inspirations come like flashes, or quick little fireflies. The first step is to notice them, then follow them. Catch them if you can, and make use of them. Many of us have been taught to conform our thinking to a socially acceptable way. We often ignore a thought or inspiration that exists outside the box of “normal.” In doing so, we reject our inner voice. The thought came from you. It must be meaningful, because your consciousness chose that thought. Dreams reveal our genuine internal experience when our conscious mind is off duty — our first thoughts come from our true being. Those initial insights are wisdoms coming from deep within to guide you in the practical world. This inner wisdom is free. You do not have to buy a book, pay for a lecture or take a course (although the insight may be stimulated by these). Some free things in life are truly valuable.

Accept “many-me.”

Identity is often confused with the roles we play. The roles are genuine expressions of who we are in certain situations. Yet, the true you is deeper than the roles. For example, towards a customer you need to give one presentation. To your boss you exemplify a set of characteristics. To your child you become the image they need, and so on. Underneath everything that others perceive (which is correlated to their needs), is the true you. So play your roles freely and sincerely from the core of who you are, realizing that the “many mes” are outer facets of your being. While others may identify you according to the role you play for them, you are both aware of your inner fuller being and the role that you are playing in this situation.

The true you is constant.

It is not just others who try to define us by our temporary roles, but we do, as well. For example, you may be very capable at playing tennis, but not at cooking. You may define yourself as athletic, without homecare skills. You may call yourself “good” in one area and “bad” in the other. In actuality, what you become skilled at is your choice — we call interest. Who you are underneath is the same substance — not a changeable “good” in one moment, and “bad” in another. I helped myself get off of the emotional roller coaster by reminding myself of my constant true being. I used to feel bad when I made what I perceived as a stupid mistake until I told myself, “You’re the same person today when you feel stupid as you were yesterday when you felt smart.” You are the same person when you are learning something new as when you are showing off a skill.

If you are not growing, you are atrophying

The true you is a living being. Life needs to be fed to grow or it withers away. Feed yourself new challenges, new experiences and new ideas. Allow for your body, spirit and mind to develop. Trying something new is how we learn. Learning includes both figuring out how things work and how they do not work. So a “mistake” is just another step in learning. Do not expect yourself to know what you are learning. If you try to “learn” something that you already know, you are just showing off. Keep the humility and vulnerability of openness to allow yourself to expand to new levels.

You are always changing.

While your true identity deep inside is consistent, your expressed self is always changing. Nature helps us here. Our bodies change constantly in size, shape and appearance. Our body chemistry changes constantly. The fun of it all is that we choose how we want to respond to these changes. Clothes, makeup and exercise equipment are some of the tools we choose to use to deal with changes in our bodies. Food, sleep and exercise are some of the means we incorporate to respond to our chemical changes.

Enjoy the imperfect, spontaneous, multifaceted, constant, growing and changing being that you are.