Mental Health Healing Man

Active vs. Passive in the Quest to Find the Authentic Self

Something that many of us who aim at mindfulness and attempt to stay focused on the present rather than mired in the past or obsessed with an uncertain future are interested in is finding ourselves, and expressing ourselves authentically. The question is this: should we take active steps toward this discovery of the authentic self, or let it come to us naturally?

The answer is this: a little bit of both. Let’s explore how knowing when to use the proverbs, “seek and you shall find” and “let it be” can contribute to your search for your true self.

The active approach

Part of mindfulness and present-day living involves making a conscious effort to live within the moment. This doesn’t come naturally to most of us (or virtually any of us, if my guesses are correct), so we have to make an active choice to live in this way if we are to uncover our authentic, core selves. Of course, not all of life is an endless game of scrutiny and concentration and knowing effort. Part of this way of life involves passivity, too.

The passive approach

The passive aspects to mindfulness involve “letting go” of reactions that, for many of us, are all-too-accustomed, such as self-judgment and self-criticism. When engaging in a “mindful moment,” we should step back from ourselves enough to observe our thoughts and feelings without any judgment whatsoever. This standing away from our inner reactions can be considered a passive approach to mindfulness and present-day living in the quest for finding the authentic self.

How a blend of both can yield the necessary balance

Using both of these approaches in equal measure can help to bring about a balance, and can help us more easily discover the core of ourselves that matters the most to us in half the time of using either approach alone. Be firmly active in maintaining your present-day focus and be fully engaged in your mindfulness meditation—but know when it’s time to let go and let things happen, and resign yourself to objective observation from time to time. You can learn so much about yourself—your emotional self, your rational self, and your authentic, core self—by using a little bit of both.