How to take back your power in life and claim a true identity (2 steps to take now)
Updated: 2 days ago
Parinaz Shams| Founder of Embrace Your Essence| Spiritual Life Coach & Mentor
It took me 26 years to choose myself.
It took over 2 decades for me to finally reach a point where I could even begin to see the value of listening to my judgment and not shut down my own thoughts in harsh criticism.
To trust myself instead of judging myself, to not write off my thoughts, desires, and actions as anxiety that was getting the best of me…
It took me 26 years, multiple heartbreaks from guys who were nothing more than boys in big bodies, hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational debt from impressive places that didn’t give a damn what I did there…
2 moves across the US to the Hawaiian islands, and years of relentless anxiety, gut issues, sleep disorders, and the unshakable feeling that I was always behind in life for me to choose myself.
To choose MY happiness over the idea of happiness I was fed as a child by my parents and the culture of white affluence I grew up around.
It was at age 26 that I, for the first time, asked myself “What do I really want?”
Come to think of it, I didn’t even ask myself that question…
I was pacing around my apartment in a panicky mess because the job I had moved 3 thousand miles for was proving to have zero growth opportunities and my boyfriend at the time had just cheated on me.
I was spiraling and saying “WTF am I doing with my life?!”
I then got on the phone with my friend from Colorado and continued to espouse my frustration,
“I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life…why is this so hard?”
He said, “Look if you could just slow it all down. Take away all the pressures you feel - money, time, practicality - what would spend your time doing? What do you really want?”
I paused my pacing. Stared down at my feet with the phone to my right ear, looked up, and said in one breath, “I’d be sitting with a group of women talking about how to trust their intuition.”
We were both silent….I was shocked at my own words… "WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?" I thought to myself.
It just…appeared, seemingly from the depths of my consciousness, all because that simple, sacred question that had never been asked before that moment finally came to the surface of my awareness.
What do you want?
Up to that point, I can honestly say I did not make a decision based on what I wanted.
I grew up as the middle child among 5 kids. I have 2 parents that raised me who are a strange and powerful combination that can be described as a bull in a china shop and a gritty ship captain...
Unflinchingly rigid in their beliefs, values, tenacity, and loyal to the bone…and they will fuck you up if you don’t meet their expectations.
My mother is a white, American, Catholic woman raised in the American military system.
Her father was a general in the US Army for years until he was killed in combat during the Vietnam War when she was just 13 years old.
She was raised in a hyper-masculine, tough-as-nails kind of home where women played roles that appeased men and the threat of an immoral sin kept everyone on their toes.
My dad is an Iranian immigrant who came to the US in the wake of the political revolution that began inside Iran in 1979.
When the Shah was overthrown by the current Islamic Regime, my grandfather became a political prisoner and my father’s life in Iran came to a crashing halt. A fall from grace, you might say.
His story is one of losing it all and having to cobble together a new existence using threads of hope and a LOT of grit.
These 2 humans that I call my parents are truly destined for each other, at least that's how I've always seen it.
The other way to put it is that they are completely trauma-bonded and they raised their 5 kids to be gritty, tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, hard workers just like life taught them to be.
Little room for error - even less room for emotions and discussion of “what do you want”.
You might get the idea at this point that as a child, I didn't have much personal identity at all.
I followed in my older siblings' footsteps and stayed in line.
My older sister, 2 years older than me, would pick out my clothes, tell me how to act, and tell me what we were supposed to do each day.
I did not have my own identity and I didn’t know the difference.
I was just going along, playing the game put in front of me.
I think most of us do this in one way or another - we start living life in the conditioning of our family and we don't realize how much it's keeping our true self-identity, our essence buried.
The programmed ideas (AKA conditioning) of who we should be, how life should look, and what is good or bad takes over and becomes the driving force in our life, the author of our story.
Most of us start to feel anxiety in the form of disillusionment, fear, uncertainty, dissatisfaction, and physical ailments such as chronic inflammation and auto-immune diseases - that inevitably come when we fail to realize our desires and passions and carve our own path.
This internal chaos begins early in life, around adolescence, and gets stronger as we age.
It begins as we start to see ourselves as individuals yet lack the awareness, maturity, and autonomy over ourselves to show up fully as that Self we've started to recognize within.
This causes a splintering effect that happens between the conditioned identity we’ve been carrying with us and the deeper identity (Self) that is truly ours and is trying to make its way to the surface of our existence.
That splintering that goes on is a moment of choice. I know it was for me.
The choice to reclaim our soul's identity or to stay exactly where we are in that moment.
It’s like walking to the edge of a cliff and realizing you have the distinct choice to jump and see if you can fly, or stay firmly planted where you’ve always been.
It’s like seeing a fork in a path and knowing that one direction is far less familiar but leads to infinite possibilities, and the other is a loop right back to where you’re currently standing.
The conscious choice comes as a reckoning. Whether it's the moment you realize that relationship is never going to work and you’ve been forcing something that was never right for you through the years of couple's counseling and sleepless nights.
Or the moment you realize the career moves you’ve been making are all out of a need to be perfect and get a pat on the head, and the burnout is nearly more than you can take.
It's the moment you’re confronted with yourself - you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and see an older, smaller (and also bigger, less agile), and far less lively version of yourself.
That is when you must say “I choose myself”.
Me, I had no idea what choosing myself meant when my reckoning came that day in my apartment.
I only knew that some deep, less familiar part of me already knew what I wanted.
By the way, that deeper, less familiar, already-knowing part of YOU also already knows what it wants.
That deeper, true self, is also called your soul.
It's waiting for you to start listening to it.
It wants you to listen because your soul, your true self, and your ESSENCE, it's always guiding you in the right direction, already aware of your unique path and purpose.
My soul wasn't concerned with how or when I would start working with women.
It just knew and that knowledge was enough for me to have the confidence to follow the voice.
Within 2 months, I put in notice to quit my job and made arrangements to move back to Colorado where I would open a business called "Embrace Your Essence" that focused on helping women connect back to their intuition.
When I committed to listening to my soul's knowing, which is the same as listening to intuition, my reality started to change. Very quickly.
The day I decided to accept the fact that I do have a soul (back then that was far outside my comfort zone) and I decided to trust that it might already know what is right for me, is the day I chose myself.
If YOU want your life to start moving in an ultimately fulfilling, joyful, and meaningful way, you must start listening to your true self.
You must consciously choose to Embrace Your Essence.
It looks like choosing to do the deep, difficult, inner healing work where you cut through the conditioning of where you came from, the people who raised you, and all the ways the world has been unkind and unfair to you, and you start getting serious about what your soul needs to be able to thrive.
The great news, this doesn't have to take 10 years or be scary and sad.
It doesn't have to be like therapy where your therapist sits at a distance and asks you like a broken record, "And how does that feel?"
You can start very simply. That's what I did...
To begin, here are 2 things that helped me as I decided I was no longer going to judge myself and follow other people’s scripts instead of writing my own.
I began meditating.
I opened myself up to the spiritual path.
No, I did not join a cult when I say that I "opened myself to the spiritual path".
No, I did not start micro-dosing mushrooms and calling the moon my sister…I simply