The Stages of Self Discovery - Rancho La Puerta
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The Stages of Self Discovery

Is it possible to rediscover who you are?  Or who you are meant to be?  What are the various stages of self discovery?

At different times in our lives we may seem to be different people.  Who we were ten years ago may have been completely different than who we are today.  That’s what I’m discovering now in my thirties.

Recently I went to a class taught by Linda Carroll, author of, “The Seven Stages in a Woman’s Spiritual Path”.  The talk, like many serendipitous occurrences at The Ranch, seemed to find me at the right time and place in my life, despite walking into the class with no idea what it was about.  Ironically, it was what exactly what I needed to hear at a trying time.

There are seven stages according to Linda.  Each one serves a purpose and helps you move on to the next stage.  But something she said at the end stayed with me:

“Things come together and they fall apart.  That is life.”

Meaning, we’ll go through all of these stages again and again.  Some cycles will last a lifetime, others, only during smaller events in our lives.

For now, we’ll start at the beginning.

1. Forgetting–Linda spoke a lot about conditioning in this first step.  When we are born, we have innate traits that make us unique.  However, it’s inevitable that we will be conditioned by our parents, our family, culture or society.  In a sense, there’s no way to escape it.

Most of the time we get conditioned to believe that some parts of us are acceptable and other parts are not.

2.  Remembering–How can we remember what our soul really was before we were conditioned?  Linda had us do an exercise in class:  Think about your first memory…what truth do you always go back to?

3.  Explore–This is where you start to redefine yourself.  What are the common threads throughout life that you keep coming back to?  For me it was creativity, storytelling, playfulness, music and visual art.  I can never seem to break away from these things even when I want to.  I always come back to them and now I’ve accepted, that they’re just who I am.

4.  Practice–Envelop yourself in your truth and practice being this truth.  She spoke about the Four-Fold Way by Angeles Arrien:

  • Show up and be present.
  • Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
  • Be truthful without blame.
  • Don’t be attached to the outcome.

5.  Shadows on the Path–There could be mourning or trouble along the way as we discover the loss of our old self.  It may be confusing not only for yourself, but for the people that love you.

6.  Reclaiming–When we reclaim our original self (the soul we were before being conditioned), we, in essence, are deciding what to keep and what to let go of.  I’m not referring to letting go of material possessions, but rather traits we still have that no longer serve our true selves.  At the same time, we must embrace what feels right in our gut.

7. Acceptance–This is where we come full circle and recall what Linda said earlier:

“Things come together and they fall apart.  That is life.”

Everything changes again and again.  That is the one thing we can count on in life.  Part of the path is accepting that things will always change, but that we have the ability to always be true to ourselves.