Dear Dr. Norquist:
Recently I have been feeling like I am stuck in a lifestyle that no longer feels like me. I worked very hard to get where I am, but now it isn’t what I want. I have a successful career that I have worked long and hard for. It brings with it many rewards, financially and socially. I have power and respect and can buy all the “goods” I want. Life is busy. I play my role, but it no longer feels like the real me that is playing “me” in my life. Somewhere along the line I lost my real self, and I’m not sure where it went or what to do about that. This is bothering me more and more frequently. Any suggestions? How do I get back to my real self (the self that feels right to me)?
Dr. Norquist responds:
There is an inner sense of discomfort arising within you. If you listen to it carefully, it will lead you back home to your real Self. You have all the answers you need if you learn to notice, welcome, and really listen to this inner sense of what feels “right” or “off” to you in any given moment. This inner wisdom makes itself known through attention to body sensations that arise. Remember a time when you knew you were choosing to do or say something that didn’t feel right or true to you? How did you know this? Wasn’t it something in your body that brought this knowledge to you? Currently you know that you are not in alignment with an inner sense of the “real” you. You are listening to this body-based sensation/wisdom. So much so, in fact, that you have taken the time to voice it in a letter to me.
Our senses (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.) are naturally focused on the outer world. This draws us into the world, where we are influenced by social, cultural and relationship demands. It’s easy to lose ourselves in this outer world. The demands, desires and attractions of this outer world can drown out an awareness of, and a connection with our true inner needs and feelings. Because of this, we stop connecting with, listening to and being true to who we really are. In this way, we betray our true selves. We end up living a life that is not congruent with what is true for us.
The good news is that you are being called back to your true self. You are being asked to listen with your inner ear. Welcome those uncomfortable feelings! They will guide you back home to your self. This can become a process whereby you heal your old habit of betraying yourself. As you align yourself more and more with your true nature, a deep sense of well-being, ease, and contentment will be your rewards. I believe you will find these inner gifts more fulfilling than the financial or social rewards you currently possess.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, N.J. 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2012 Chaitanya Counseling Services