The Harsh Reason It's So Hard To Find Your Own Path In Life

Two powerful ways to find out who you really are, and leave behind others' expectations of you.

Black woman with natural hair in front of a tonal background, looking thoughtful and pleasant mimage photography / shutterstock 

It can be hard to know what we truly want in life — and even when we think we've figured it out, sometimes it never feels quite right. 

Why is it so hard to find our own path in life, something that fits with our truest inner selves? 

We are products of our programming. People born today will have different cultural and social programming than those who came decades, centuries, or thousands of years before.


Here’s a small example of how our self-identities have changed:

Back in the ’60s, people in their 30s commonly thought they were “too old” to attend university. This is clearly not the case today. Why such a change in attitude over the past half-century? It’s all about our self-identity. We no longer consider 30 to be too old to learn something new or to change paths. 

What is your "programmed" identity? What facts do you believe to be true about yourself? How do you know that it's true? 

Is there a change you'd like to make in your path?

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Are you really who you think you are — or are you someone else's version of you? 

Our self-identity is largely a product of the programming we received as youngsters. As adults, it’s really only who we decide we want to be.

Have you become someone else’s version of yourself? Who is the “me” who entertains this inner self-berating, self-limiting, and self-doubting dialogue? 


Rather than allow others to define us, it's our responsibility to create our own self-identity. Once we've figured out who we want to be, it's up to us and only us to transform ourselves into that person.

While there is great value in psychotherapy and coaching to help us sort through what most needs our attention, this is just the starting place for creating our new future. 

Fortunately, there's a tool that can help us tap into our innermost selves. 

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How to shed others' definition of you and find your true path

1. Listen to your dreams 

We can cite many examples of scientific breakthroughs originating in the dream state, or in a hallucination-like state called the hypnagogic state — that period where we are just transitioning between being awake and falling asleep. The hypnagogic state is similar to a dream state.


Einstein was known to nap in his chair holding ball bearings in each hand, so that his conscious awareness could capture any imagery and sound appearing in the hypnagogic state as the circular objects falling from his hands would clatter to the ground when he began to doze off, alerting his conscious attention.

He noticed these states brought solutions to the problems his mind entertained.

Edison was another who used the same method of holding objects until their falling sound awakened his conscious awareness. Salvador Dali would practice putting a key in his hand, capturing conscious awareness of hallucinatory formations as the key fell and awakened him. Carl Jung was a proponent and advocate for using these “altered” states of consciousness — especially dreams — to bring new creative ideas to mind by routinely practicing bringing conscious awareness to dream content.

Elias Howe dreamed of cannibals chasing him with pointed spearheads with a hole at the tip. Howe’s dream imagery gave him the design of an upside-down sewing needle and made the newly invented sewing machine viable. A 19th-century chemist dreamt of the ouroboros–a snake eating its own tail–to identify the ring-like chemical structure of the benzene molecule.


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2. Start right where you are in the world

We can begin to have a more fluid and flexible method of expanding our conscious awareness if we shift our attention away from the dictates of traditional viewpoints and our ongoing social and cultural programming, and begin to question the status quo and that which we think we know.

Begin with a trust in the Great Oneness, I am, Universal Mind, Divine Consciousness, Higher Self, Spirit, or whatever label suits you, knowing that you can access universal wisdom by connecting from within. Great conquerors from the past consulted the Oracle of Delphi.

Today we have access to an almost unlimited source of oracles that we can consult and use as a means to sharpen our incredible intuitive mind. Envision aligning, attuning, and allowing this larger awareness to flow through you. Create a practice to establish a positive habit of connecting.


Among the many ways to practice connecting are meditation, using the Tarot, keeping a gratitude journal and a dream journal, undergoing a past-life regression, expressing yourself creatively every day, or using affirmations.

Ideas about our universe are in a constant state of flux, and the reality is we really don’t know what we don’t know. Sharpen your intuition and connect with your purpose as you engage in these practices which assist you to tap into your Higher Self.

Hire a coach to help you get started, to help guide you into and through this ultimate journey of self-discovery, self-awareness, self-love and acceptance, allowing your Higher Self to be your ultimate guide and source of healing for your wondrous, unique and magnificent life.

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Dr. Liz Zed, Ph.D., MCC, RCC is a lifestyle design & spiritual coach who delights in helping people all over the world connect with their intuitive inner wisdom to unlock inner guidance and unleash their unique and magnificent selves. She is co-author of the Coaching Agreement & creator of the Master Coach System.™