When I was 15 years old, I drew a chart. Along the horizontal axis were situations I thought I handled poorly. Along the vertical axis were people I thought had handled situations impressively well. These included Albus Dumbledore, Coach Johnson (my high school math teacher), and my dad — to name a few. In each of the intersecting boxes, I wrote how I thought each of those people would have handled each situation if they had been in my shoes.

Then, I highlighted the responses I most admired and decided to handle future situations that way.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that this exercise was not about being like those people. It was about uncovering my truest self: the me I wanted to be, the me I knew I could be.

My best self has always been elusive. Sometimes I’m confident and clear and make excellent decisions and feel joy and optimism and the people around me think I’m hilarious. Other times, I get tense, self-conscious, and petty… and accomplish nothing. The people around me think that I’m out of touch.

What’s the difference?

Sometimes when I felt incredible, I was able to pin it on the fact that I got good sleep, or liked my outfit, or finished my project early. But other times I would get good sleep, like my outfit, and finish my project early and still feel insecure and anxious. What was responsible for me being my best self sometimes and feeling lost and tense other times?

Where is my best self hiding most of the time?

I’ve gotten closer with her in the last few years and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to find her. Here’s what I know that will help you find yours:

Think of your best self as this ball of energy, radiating outward like the sun:

sun-image

 

 

 

 

 

 

As adults, this ball of energy gets boxed in by what other people think of you and “shoulds” and expectations and habits. When we talk about getting out of our way, the box is what’s in the way.

box-image

The more you play by the box’s rules (by caring about what others think of you, doing what you “should” do, enduring your habits and addictions, and keeping up with expectations), the more power the box has over you, the more you experience yourself as the victim of your circumstances, and the worse you feel. This is when you are least yourself.

When people talk about the best moments of their lives they describe feeling in the zone, expansive, proud, confident, clear, optimistic about things, unfazed by their physical needs, and undistracted by how they might look to others. In these moments, you’re not limited by the box. You’re free to be yourself. This is because you’re generating your experience from the inside out—not receiving it from the outside in. This is what it means to be in alignment.

The more you source your experience from that glowing core of your being, the less the box can contain you. This is why when you’re in alignment you feel expansive and big. And when you’re out of alignment (sourcing your experience from your circumstances), you feel contracted and small.

Here’s the exciting part: you can access your best self right now. It’s easier than you think.

Your best self is actually your most authentic self.

It’s the truest, purest version of yourself. It’s your essence. It’s who you are without all the gunk you’ve accumulated along the way. It’s you without the box. So don’t stress about becoming yourself. Think of it more like releasing what’s not you; get out of your way.

Since your best self is your truest self at the core, there’s nothing you need to do besides stop giving mental and emotional bandwidth to whatever’s not you. Hint: if it feels bad, it’s not you.

Get out of your way by retracting your awareness from your circumstances and generating an experience for yourself from scratch.

A good way to practice this is by prompting yourself with questions like these. I recommend identifying how you feel before you start answering these questions and tracking your energy as you make your way through them:

What inspires me?
What excites me?
What do I love?
When have I felt the best in my life?
Why?
Who do I look up to?
What’s the hardest I remember laughing?
What’s special about me?
What am I grateful for?
What am I great at?
What opportunity would I quit my job for in a second?

If you love this post and want more… this post is part of an eBook titled, Get Out of Your Way – Make 2017 the Best Year of Your Life. You can download a free copy at this link (click here).