9 Ways to Discover Your True Self

by Mark Votava


1. Give up on finding our identity in what we have, what we do, and what others think of us

Basil Pennington writes, “In our old consciousness, where we identified ourselves as that false self made up of what we have, what we do, and what others think of us, we were in a state of constant and complete self-alienation.  We were not at home with ourselves at all.  As we turn within and begin to know our true self, this split begins to be healed.  We are coming home.  Yet the split is totally healed only when we are ourselves in pure consciousness and no longer see ourselves as an object apart from the knowing subject.  This self-knowledge comes to fullness when we experience ourselves as one with God in God and God is known in pure consciousness rather than by some subject-object knowledge…”

2. Develop a contemplative spirituality of awareness

Our contemplation brings awareness of our union with God.  The true self lives in union with God.  The true self is not separated from God.

3. Embrace the life of God within

The true self embraces the life of God within.  The true self lives out of this life.  The mystical imagination lives in union with God in the parish.

4. Embrace your own uniqueness as created in the image of God

James Martin says in his book Becoming Who You Are, “Everyone’s true self is a unique creation of God’s, and the way to sanctity is to become the unique self that God wishes us to be.” 

5. Give up on copying other people and be who you are

Our true self is unique.  No one can copy the true self.  We are each created to be someone different from anyone else in the world.

6. Become a shaper of beauty

We do not need to conform to our cultural Christianity anymore.  We need to live into our uniqueness.  If we were all our true selves, the body of Christ would be a shaper of beauty in the place we inhabit together.

7. Stop going to church and be the church in a particular place

The false self destroys the body of Christ.  The false self wants us to go to church instead of be the church together in a particular place.  The way of discipleship is the discovery of our true self.  The way of discipline is to discover our true self.

8. Live in your body to become an expression of love in the world

The way of sanity is to discover our true self as the body of Christ in everyday life.  The true self is the essence of holiness.  The true self is how we become expressions of love in the world.  The true self is how we live in our bodies in the parish.

9. Do not be afraid to listen deeply to a countercultural experience within

Alice Fryling notes, “Listening to the true self may be a countercultural experience.”    

In what ways have you discovered your true self?