Do you know who you are? Are you walking in your purpose? These questions ring loudly in the ears of many women who are suffering and feel like they will never find success.

Often, therapists have the unique opportunity to help various women learn the true essence of self-reflection, wherein they create thoughtful awareness that cultivates a deep level of insight and intimacy with one’s self. While teaching the art of self-reflection, interesting phenomena tend to surface in reference to how women view their sense of "self." Usually, women have learned to identify themselves with what they do for a living, what they have been through in life and/or how someone else defines them. But none of these are accurate. What makes it difficult to identify your true selves is the way society tends to position women. It is no longer okay to be ordinary.

Women are overly concerned with weight, fashion and clothes, the latest technology, looking younger and having money. As Brené Brown describes, women are living in a culture where the biggest fear is being vulnerable because it produces guilt and shame. This, in turn, causes women to avoid their true, natural selves. Missing out on the many lessons vulnerability has to teach, women go through life believing that in order to be okay, they have to have more, do more and be more. In doing so, women impede any personal growth opportunities that further oppress their true identities and what they were created to do.

These are the lessons that lead to your ability to embrace who you are and walk in your purpose:

Ego vs. the unconditional self – The ego’s main job is to protect you from perceived dangers. The ego allows space for you to remain subconsciously committed to the fears derived from childhood or adult traumas. The unconditional self allows you to surrender to all of those things you believe make you who you are. The unconditional self is pure at heart and comes without any preconceived ideas of what it should or should not be.

Fear vs. faith – Fear’s primary purpose is to prevent you from doing the very things you were purposed to do. Yes, some fears are normal, but those that debilitate you and cause excessive worry or dependency are not healthy for the "self." Faith, which is not just a religious term, is having assurance without knowing what the outcome will be. Try walking in faith, not fear, for one entire day, combating any fears that arrive. Observe how much easier situations are to conquer.

Opposition vs. opportunity – This one is difficult, especially if you are used to seeing the world from a distorted lens because of life’s experiences. In every situation you encounter, you are faced with two choices: to view it from an oppositional standpoint or to recognize the opportunity it provides. What allows you to differentiate between the two is perception.

Emotionally stunted vs. vulnerability – You are emotionally the same age that you were when you encountered any type of trauma in your life. As a result of that emotional stunt, you avoid and are unaware of the lessons your emotions have to teach you. You fear or doubt your emotions because they have never been allowed to be expressed safely and non-judgmentally. You fear your emotions because of your false perception that being emotional causes you to lose control. When you are unhealthy emotionally, it is difficult not to have black-and-white, distorted thinking patterns. The reality is that life’s most important lessons come from your ability to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a gateway to strength and deeper levels of understanding the true you.

Conditional vs. unconditional love – Conditional love prevents you from understanding that love is not something you must earn or win. You deserve love no matter who you are or where you are in life. You cannot create self-awareness if you fail to accept and love yourself without conditions.

Women must learn to embrace themselves as sacred in order to understand and live with intention and purpose.

Camishe Nunley is a prominent Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Trauma Specialist.

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