"Everyone in this world shares the same innate source of wisdom, but it is hidden by the tangle of our own misguided thoughts." - Sydney Banks

One of the coolest things about Transformative Coaching is that it encourages us peek behind the façade of our own story telling. That is, when we are willing loosen our grip a little and stop holding on so tightly to the personal thoughts we have about who we are and the way the world is supposed to work, we allow a space to open up in which we get to see our true nature more clearly.

You’ve probably heard the expression “the truth will set you free”. Well, the truth about who you really are and how the world really works is actually quite profound. So profound, in fact, that as you begin to get your head around it and understand its implications, you are likely to experience an incredible sense of personal freedom unlike anything you have experienced before.

Why? Because one of the first things that becomes very apparent, when you really take the time to look, is that the majority of the suffering we experience in our lives is not derived from what happens to us, but from our own scary thinking about what we make things mean.

The stories that seem to have the most authority in preventing us from being everything that we are truly capable of being are the stories we make up about ourselves. I’m not talking about intentional lies or works of fiction, but rather what we innocently choose to identify with when we think about the kinds of people we are.

Each and every one of us, if asked, “What kind of person are you?” would instinctively be able to rattle of a description of our own characters and personalities that we believe accurately reflects who we are in this world:

• I’m confident
• I’m a worrywart
• I’m outgoing
• I’m a loner
• I’m good at this….
• I’m not very good at that….
• I’m an optimist
• I’m a realist
• I’m organised and disciplined
• I’m laid back and go with the flow
• I don’t suffer fools gladly
• I’m pretty accommodating and forgiving

Whatever we have come to think about ourselves will inevitably feel right and real to us, and for the most part probably will describe the behaviour and attitudes we project out into the world, but it does not come anywhere close to describing who we REALLY are.

The truth about who we are is so much bigger and yet far simpler than we can possibly comprehend with our normal, everyday way of thinking about the world. In order to unearth the truth, it is worth knowing about the two versions of ourselves that we each carry around.

On one hand there is what we call the ‘Conditioned-Self’, or the ‘Learned-Self’, or the Ego. This is part of us feels pretty attached to the judgements we make about ourselves and the world around us. It is the part that is bought into our individual perceptions of what is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust. It is the voice in our heads that tells us whether we are worthy or worthless, below or above others, victims or victors. It is the part of us that likes answering questions such as, “What kind of person are you?”

Whilst the ego features so prominently and directs much of our day-to-day experience of life, there is one thing it is not very good at – Telling us the truth.

That is not to say that it is deliberately deceitful. It is just not particularly open to admitting that it might be wrong. The reason the ego is often referred to as the ‘Conditioned-Self’ is because it has had to learn over time what and how to think. It has learned this by listening to and believing what others have told us, by extrapolating meaning from our past experiences and by simply making stuff up (i.e. we put 2 and 2 together and get a banana).

While its intention is a positive one, when the ego talks to us in that most convincing manner, all it is really doing is letting us know its best guess about what is going on.

Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, summed it up perfectly when she said:

“That voice inside your head is not the voice of God; it just sounds like it thinks it is.”

Of course, everyone has an ego, and it is the extent to which we are able to listen to what it has to say, whilst not taking it seriously, that will determine the level of personal freedom and fulfilment we get to enjoy in our lives.

So, if we are not our egos, then what are we?

Let me introduce you to your ‘Unconditioned-Self’, or as I prefer to call it your ‘Essential-Self’.

This is who you are without any labels attached. It is the ‘YOU’ you were born with, and the ‘YOU’ that is incapable of changing in any way whatsoever.

For a bit of clarity, just for a moment, think about all of the labels or titles you identify with and that could define who you are at the level of your ego. For example:

Your name
Your age
Your gender
Your sexuality
Your job title
Your standing in society
Your star sign
Your weight
Your height

The roles you play in lives of others, such as:

Son / daughter
Mother / father
Brother / sister
Wife / husband

You could keep going and going… even down to what the kind of car you drive says about you. Or the neighbourhood you live in.

If you were to strip away all of those labels and their associated meanings to you and your identity, then what you would be left with is the simplest, purest version of you, untainted by the ego’s misguided interpretations. This version of you is the truest most positive expression of who you really are. You could say that it is the ‘You’ that exists as pure formless energy; your essence, your soul, your life-force. Your true identity.

It doesn’t take a lot to deduce that there seems to be a natural intelligent energy behind all life. For instance, it takes energy for an acorn to grow into an oak tree, and for that oak tree to produce more acorns. Nature knows exactly what it is doing; it is pretty smart that way. Similarly, that same intelligent energy knows exactly what it is doing when it creates new human life, making us conscious of our own existence. At the purest level, the consciousness we are all blessed with is our awareness of - and our connection to - the energy of life. Not just our own life, but to ALL life.

Everything in the entire Universe is created with this same energy; from planets to bacteria; forests to humans. So when it comes to answering that big question, “Who am I?” an insightful answer could be, you are part of the perfect design of the Universe. And the reason that is significant is because the Universe exists in complete peace and harmony with itself.

The major consequence of letting the ego having too much air-time is that it separates us from the natural peace of mind and wellbeing that is our innate nature. The ego wants us to believe in the idea that we live in a ‘me versus them’ world. It needs us to believe that our happiness and wellbeing is derived from sources outside ourselves, otherwise it wouldn’t have a reason to exist at all. The ego’s one and only goal is to keep itself alive, and for that to happen it is entirely dependent on us believing its stories of separation.

The Essential-Self, on the other hand, loves you just the way you are and knows that you are already perfect. Regardless of how crappy life can appear to get from time to time your Essential-Self remains perfectly intact, because it is only ever aligned to the peaceful energy of the Universe which created it. It is never concerned with the rants and tantrums of the ego.

When you get you know who you really are beyond your ego – your true identity – it becomes obvious that continuing to believe the negative stories you’ve had about yourself is not only limiting to your potential but is also completely irrelevant and unnecessary. It is like trying to convince yourself that your lawn is dry and brown after you’ve already seen that it is lush, green and fertile.

It is also worth remembering that believing the ego’s positive hype can be just as limiting as buying into your self-criticism. Identifying with all the self-adulating stories you make up about yourself may feel good and cause your ego to stick its chest out with pride, but they are still stories based on your own subjective opinion and therefore require an act of believing on your part to keep them alive.

For many, this might be a controversial concept that goes against the grain of what we are often taught by personal development gurus. Aren’t we supposed to have a positive self-image in order to live full and happy lives? Well, yes. But there is a world of difference between upholding a positive opinion of yourself and simply seeing your true nature, which continues to exist regardless of whether you look in its direction or not.

You don’t need to convince yourselves that you are amazing… you just are.

When you think about it, it is not necessary for us to affirm what we already know to be true. We don’t need a daily mantra to tell us that the grass is green when we can look out of our windows and SEE that it is green, plain as day.

Now, that is not to say that affirmations are not useful, in fact they can be extremely powerful, so long as they are used as reminders of who you really are rather than as convincers for whom you think you should be.

When an affirmation is designed to convince you that you possess a quality that you do not currently believe you have, then all you are doing is further conditioning your ego to remember a script.

"I am confident… I AM confident…. I AM CONFIDENT…."

There is absolutely nothing wrong in doing this; it is just not a very effective way of tapping into your real potential. You will no doubt experience a positive emotional boost that feels a lot like confidence, because your neurology is wired to respond positively to this kind of self-talk, but accessing your authentic potential is more about seeing than it is about saying.

When an affirmation is designed to remind you of your true identity there is nothing you need convincing of. Human Beings always return to their natural default setting of happiness, confidence and wellbeing whenever the busy, opinionated chatter of the ego quietens down long enough for the Essential-Self to have a chance to shine through.

Here is what I’ve learned: Whenever I catch myself in the act of trying to be convinced that I have some positive quality that I think I should have, I know I’ve missed the bigger truth.

No amount of time spent trying to talk myself into believing that there is a wonderful expansive sky above my head can be a good enough substitute for the single second it takes for me to look up and just experience it with my own eyes. In other words, the moment I realise I have been relying on my ego to give me a pep talk, I know it is time to pause, relax and reconnect to the formless innate wisdom of my Unconditioned-Self.


Find some time for you to just sit and to be comfortably still and quiet.

Use that time to start thinking about all labels you carry around with you day after day. Then, gradually, let yourself get a sense of what it is like to be the person beyond those labels.

If it helps, imagine attaching each of those labels to a helium filled balloon and let each of them go, one by one, as you watch them float further away from you until you are left alone with your Essential-Self.

Be generous with the time you spend just hanging out in your true identify, and let yourself really enjoy the connection you feel to the intelligent energy that created you.

Take great care. Namaste.


Author's Bio: 

Paul Dalton is a Personal Development & Spiritual Growth Coach and founder of www.life-happens.co.uk. For over a decade he has coached individuals and groups from all walks of live both the private and business arena, helping them to live on purpose, grow spiritually and to develop their inner resources for living their very best lives. Visit www.life-happens.co.uk your: FREE 5-Part E-course - Life Happens LIVE Podcast - Personal Development Articles - Video Blog - and more.... Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lifehappenscoaching