Recently, I got my hands on The Greatest Secret. As an avid reader of The Secret series and someone who feels like she’s entered another world when she opens that book, I was stoked about finding what the ultimate truth behind living life to its true essence is. 

Now, that book had a spiritual turn to it that was well beyond my current comprehension capacity. I couldn’t grasp, let alone explain it even if I tried. So if you’re a little behind in your spiritual journey just like I am, for us, the ultimate truth, in layman’s language, would be to be yourself. 

But who are you really?

Growing up, this was the one question that would baffle me. Who am I? I would often ask myself this question especially in social settings that made me feel a little out of place. 

Now the best part is you really don’t need to define that.  

There’s this theory that decisions made in a blink are usually the best sort. Because I think that’s where we meet our true self. Before the self-created thoughts start kicking in. 

When you are truly yourself, you are your purest form, you exude nothing but bliss, joy and love. Something that you came into this world with. 

When any other feeling takes over, you should know you’re not in touch with your authentic self.  To be your true self is really the answer to many hidden questions. How to keep yourself happy. Motivated. Aligned with Meaning. How to keep the people in your life and at work happy. If you really think about it, to be yourself is the answer to many personal, psychological, sociological and physiological questions and problems.

How do you “be yourself”? How do you truly break free?

From someone who comes from a family with a (relatively) liberal mindset, it gets easier for me to break free of the things holding me back from being myself. What about someone who isn’t as privileged in terms of their circumstances? 

Having a liberal family in a bit of a conservative country is not as likely. So what are some ground rules that can help anyone get one step closer to “be yourself”.

Let’s start small. Here are nine ways that anyone, and absolutely anyone, can follow which will put you in touch with your true self: 

1. Do one thing wrong
Perfection overpowers authenticity. Our obsession with perfecting our actions can sometimes prevent us from doing something that’s actually true to our core which in turn is bound to lead to frustrations. So today, let’s do one thing wrong. One thing that you define “wrong” in your own dictionary but have always wanted to do and see if you like it. This could just be the first step in rejecting the worldly ways and walking towards your true self. 

2. Immerse in something 
Deep work can actually turn out to be just what you need in order to be yourself. “Flow” is an interesting concept that can put you in touch with your authentic self. Get so immersed in doing it that hours seem like minutes and more seems less. 

3. Travel
Routine can be the one thing that kills most people’s awareness about self. Following patterns like a machine can lead you to become a mundane person. Travel breaks routine. It’s crazy how unfamiliar places can sometimes make you feel more nostalgic than your own comfort places. Travel helps you tap into a place inside you that even you don’t know exists. 

4. Spending time with the right people
On a day when you’re beat and the monotony of life is taking a toll on you and you’re beginning to wonder why was it that you were even born, suddenly your phone rings. You answer and it’s a friend you used to go to high school with. She was one of your favourites and you share some beautiful, notorious memories together. You catch up and plan to see each other soon and by the end of the call you realize how much better you’re suddenly feeling after one phone call. She reminds you of how you used to be when life hadn’t played some trump cards. Sometimes, it takes the right people who feel effortless to be around to pull you up. Know “your people” and keep them close because they make you feel most like yourself.

5. 15 minutes of daily silence 
Attention spans are shorter today. We’re used to getting distracted and we lowkey like it. To distract ourselves from distractions is a real challenge now. Spare 15 minutes to sit in silence doing nothing. Most people get the best of ideas while they are doing a relatively unimportant task. Do it for the first day and this will start to reflect in your quality of thoughts. Turns out starting your day right can be a real deal-breaker. 

6. Time blocking for doing something you love daily
There might be 10 sayings that are overrated but “Follow Your Passion” is not one of them. Passion means your true calling. Something that no one can force on you. The very first step in this journey would be to find your passion. Go back to that time in school where everything else seemed like a time drag but that one thing, and one thing alone, would save your day. 

While mastery is certainly achievable in anything if you put in 10,000 hours, it certainly becomes a more blissful time investment if you’re mastering something that is your genuine and true calling. 

7. Do one thing that puts you out of your stereotypical role, and see if you like it
Getting to who we really are is actually a longer journey than some might admit. The masks are upheld and the social conditioning is so strong that even if you start today, you’ll need some time to get there. Stripping away everything that makes you you is not the goal or even attainable. 

If today, you had the chance to skip, or try, doing anything that you usually don't do because of an unsaid, presumed gender role, just do it.  And tell me how that makes you feel. 

The most likely answer is uncomfortable but freeing. 

8. Journaling
Free writing can sometimes turn out to be a real game-changer where you realise that you know far less about yourself than you thought you did. Just write like nobody’s watching. Nobody’s reading. And see what comes out. How hard do you find it to express yourself? Is there anything that stops you? And when you finally get real, do you see something that you hadn’t admitted to yourself before. To be yourself is uncomfortable which is why many conform to the mannerisms of the world but the chosen few who achieve it walk differently, smile differently, live differently.

9. Stand in front of a mirror
Now you, standing right there in front of the mirror, see yourself perfectly clear.  But to really see yourself from a lens that is not clouded by conditioning, stereotypes and worldly ways is the real challenge. Especially as women in India, we’re often too tied up in our stereotypical roles of sitting still, looking pretty that we come a long way from who we are. Be yourself because the world is losing if you are not being who you were born to be.

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