This past week I’ve been fortunate to have six of my grandchildren — ages 1 to 7 — with us. In addition to the days being filled with fun and love, I am inspired and amazed by their ability to truly know themselves. They know who they are, what they want, what they need, and what they feel. They are great at expressing emotions.

When do we lose this ability to know ourselves??? Knowing who we are, what we want, what we need and what we feel — with the ability to express it all clearly. What happens between childhood and adulthood to cause you, most often, to lose your authentic Self? {Your authentic self is who you truly are as a person, regardless of the influence of others or your occupation. Carl Jung referred to ‘individuation,’ the process by which individuals become more fully themselves or authentic.}

Within the programs of the Institute for Dream Studies, I often witness dedicated adults who have the desire to reclaim that natural, authentic Self – who they were born to be! We each are born with different temperaments, talents, intelligence – just as we all have our own look and fingerprint. That authentic Self is within and we once knew it. It’s liberating when we can reclaim who we are authentically. It’s similar to finally being able to breathe freely and be comfortable in our own skin. What a relief to not try to be other than you are!

Children take on other characters in costume and play, but they know who they are under the costume or mask. As adults we sometimes don’t realize we are playing a role. Many adults continue to pretend to be other than they are — and personally, I can tell you it’s exhausting.

I encourage you to try to remember yourself as a child. Perhaps find a photo of yourself as a child and put it out to view often. Get to know that innocent, authentic child and reclaim that authentic YOU. Who were you at five years old? How are you the same or different now? Why? Try to find that authentic self that resides within. Exhale.