At the centre of your being, in the heart of your soul, is the truth of your identity; your compassion, your anger, your curiosity.

It’s the breeding ground of the very stuff that makes you love and hate.

Do you know who you really are? Or do you just think you know?

Through a lifetime of compromise, in an attempt to avoid rejection and gain approval, most of us hide our true nature.

Often, that true nature is so far behind the shield of the pseudo persona you craft to face the world that you lose sight of who you really are.

Unable to directly tap into the firestorm of your id, you live on secondhand passions and pass them off in your writing as the gritty truth of personal reality.

But what might you write if you could tap into the primal force of your psyche?

How would your writing change if you become aware of your passionate self?

The challenge then is to mount an expedition into the darkest inner reaches of your mind. It’s dangerous territory.

Losing your sense of self in the process is a risk. Are you prepared to discover that you’re a completely different person than you thought?

Embarking on this journey may ultimately cost you relationships, family, friends, jobs, and even your own peace of mind.

You don’t need to tap this cauldron of angst and elation in order to write interesting stories that captivate people.

But as a writer, would you like to be able to access it?

Let’s take a look at why you hide yourself away.

And then we’ll outline a method for how to recover your first nature from the labyrinth of the second.

Surprise, surprise: it goes back to your childhood and the building blocks of who you are.

If you were raised in a loving household, you probably learned compassion and empathy. You found a drive to please others, even at your own expense.

And even if you’re accepted just as you are in a household like that, by the time you land in the outside world of kindergarten and pre-school, you’re suddenly confronted with those who make fun of your inherent qualities – which are an expression of your true self.

You quickly learn that to get the same kindness you receive at home, you need to hide certain traits and pretend to possess others.

You learn to avoid displeasing others.

And in short order, you establish a pseudo personality that no longer reflects your true self. It’s a malleable facade that reflects the mean average of what you feel others would prefer you to be.

If you were raised in an angry household, you learned to hide any parts of yourself that could bring ridicule or punishment.

You learned early on to create a mask that allows you to avoid pain and enhance pleasure.

If you were ignored or left alone a lot when growing up, you’ve probably invented an artificial persona that helps you attract the attention of others in an attempt to make yourself noteworthy.

It’s almost inevitable as a human endeavour.

Because we were made to exist in a social context and getting along is hardwired into us.

And as you grow, the mask becomes more complex. It has to.

You add to it when faced with a new situation. You observe how other people react to the changes you make and use that information to amend your social mask in future situations.

Slowly, you come to realise that it hurts to not express your true self.

And then you do one of two things:

  • break out of the mask and let it all hang out rebellion, or
  • stop looking inside at the real you and avoid suffering the pain of suppression altogether.

Even those who rebel will often later compromise their inner integrity to impress peers, advance in a career or justify a lack of success.

Very few of us reach adulthood knowing who we really are.

It’s normal to hide your true nature away from yourself for so long that you forget how to find it again.

You forget who you were and have no idea who you’ve become down here in the dark.

Your true self is like a Matrix program: preprogrammed with the essential elements of your personality and designed to load specific portions of that programming at various junctures.

And your mind is like a memory bank into which you load your experiences. It then sits on top of your personality’s basic programming and helps shape and filter it into the person you are.

Creating that pseudo persona is like filling up your memory bank with an alternate avatar.

You portion off sections of the memory available to you by loading in a person that isn’t you.

When your basic programming evolves and tries to load up a new version of you, it sees that there isn’t enough space and aborts the operation to try again later.

As your mind expands with growth, your basic programming evolves, but as you keep growing your shield persona, you find that there’s never enough room for your true personality.

And so, you become stunted in your emotions, never advancing past the point at which you first installed your mask.

All the while, your true self, hidden deeply in your basic programming, remains only a potential of who you could be.

Not an actualised self.

You meet a partner, start a life together, grow your family, advance your career, and all the outside world ever interacts with is your pseudo persona.

Never your true self, which hasn’t had a chance to become realised.

So, the partner you attract loves a version of you, not the true you. The children you raise associate love and comfort with a version of you, not the true you.

And all the people in your life support that persona with tender moments and thoughtful gifts.

It becomes such an intricate web of lies that you don’t dare to attempt extracting yourself lest you lose the love and respect you have by revealing your true self.

Because others can be hurt if they think the person they knew is just a sham.

But you’re a writer. And as a writer, you peddle emotions.

What’s more, if you want to be a worthwhile writer, you want your wares to be authentic.

Yet, how can they be if you aren’t true to yourself?

How to discover that inner person.

The short answer? You have to pass through pain.

You will need to look at your everyday life as a construct, as something that has an architect influenced by experiences and biases.

You need to go into your pain and explore it until it stops being a mystery.

And when you’ve done a lot of that work, it’s time to let go of the persona you’ve spent a lifetime building.

Put down a shield that protected you when you were vulnerable and kept you safe when your very existence was threatened.

When you do that, relinquish what you thought you were, your innate programming will take notice.

And it’ll rush in with the backlog of sections that should have been loaded along the way.

In one electric moment, you’ll feel yourself changing. It’s a moment that often leaves you speechless and gaping at the idiot you once were (though you thought you had it all figured out at the time).

There will also be some moments of emptiness.

But they’re soon followed by the force of your embryonic true self rushing in to fill the void.

When you take that leap of faith, you realise that there’s no going back – ever.

But, oh, the consequences!

You’re now a different being, more vibrant, a creature of foundational power.

And those who truly love you will accept this new form you’ve taken and embrace a truer version of you. Those who loved a version of you will recoil, feel betrayed and abandoned, and perhaps, mourn the loss of the person they thought you were.

We can’t predict or control how other people will behave.

But, positive or negative, there will be a response from everyone you encounter once you’ve crossed that bridge.

If you’re willing to take that risk, your writing can be the access hatch through which you find your way to that magic moment when you can shift into a new reality.

Writing will allow you to express your deepest thoughts and feelings to record the journey you have travelled.

And in times of extreme mental pressure – when things end, change and rock you to your very core – it’s an invaluable tool.

The words you write will help you work through your emotions, keep you sane and, in time, reveal the passions that drive you.

This path is optional.

You can just as well content yourself with the comfortable life you’ve built around your pseudo self and continue writing intriguing stories populated by compelling characters that are engaged in riveting action.

You can approach writing simply as a job and don’t have to delve into the ocean of your own experience to write.

You may find that more than enough.

But if you find yourself wondering if “this is as good as it gets”, know that there is something more powerful within you, something intrinsic and true.

The writers who truly touch something universal in us are the ones who have taken this journey – and it shows in their work.

Are you prepared to go to your death bed, never knowing who you are?