In our modern age, few of us are called upon to be warriors in the traditional sense. Despite this, we all have battles to fight in our lives and if we are to overcome our personal demons, we need to equip ourselves with armour for defence, and weapons for attack.

Perhaps our greatest enemy is an internal one: the denial of our road to self-discovery. By failing to embark on this journey, or to stay the course, we are denying our authentic nature. Instead, we hide behind a comforting yet ultimately harmful façade of outside influences and ideas.

As social creatures, we are inevitably influenced by those around us. This can be a positive in our lives, in the case of advice, education and mentorship. Equally, this conditioned seeking of approval from others can limit us by causing us to focus our energy on things that prove to be unimportant. Every society is a web of cultural, traditional and spiritual influences, and it can be hard to break out of the mindset – built up over many years – that tells us that we must seek external approval.

The risk here of course is that in pursuing this outside approval, we devote insufficient time to approving of ourselves. As a result, we often conform to patterns of behaviour that involve suppressing our desires, curtailing our strengths, denying our emotions and failing to follow our dreams.

The pressure to be ‘nice’ can become very constraining. Rather than seek to disrupt the status quo or ask questions, we put a great deal of energy into seeking to conform to accepted norms and into holding received opinions.

Self-doubt gives rise to a need for reassurance, and this leads us to constantly seek other people’s opinions and advice as a form of external validation. Although these opinions are shared in a well-meaning way, they can effectively become a straitjacket for our imaginations and our spirits.

Constantly seeking to ‘belong’ to a narrowly conceived society means that we are only ever exposed to a necessarily limited range of ideas, and this can impact our opportunities to grow personally or become a change agent.

We may experience a lingering sense of doubt – a feeling of missing out on something bigger – but even this tiny flame can be snuffed out if it is not given fuel and oxygen.

Instead, we need to navigate by the light of this flame and use it to illuminate our path to breaking out of the cycle in which we’ve become trapped.

It’s at this point that we will understand – either in a blinding flash of light or as part of a dawning realisation – that we were not created to be contained; nor were we born to follow. Instead, each of us has a higher purpose: to create, to heal and to transform.

Each of us has a unique calling in this life; a purpose we were born to. However, we are not issued with instructions. Rather, we are given the means to discover this if we will only ask the question. Until we do, our true path is likely to remain hidden to us. As the song says, ‘we all have wings, but some of us don’t know why’.

In this instance, action must stem from awareness. Awareness in turn requires us to confront imposed realities, ask the awkward questions, and stand up and be counted. We are all meant to discover and fulfill our Creator’s mission. Our path or journey is unique to us.

Self discovery is the key toward our true self

Without clarity as to who we are and where we’ve come from, how can we clearly see where we want to go? It’s this clarity of vision that we need if we are to set – and achieve – our goals, acquire an aura of invincibility, and work towards our own personal version of victory.

Julie Hruska articulated this beautifully when she spoke about how envisioning victory involves determining an ideal destination and constantly taking strategic action to arrive there – to make it a reality.

In the same way that each of us has a unique purpose, we all have our own backstories. Our life experiences are a constant education, with many diverse learning moments. If we take the time to understand events and our role in them, we can come to a point where we realise that the limits we feel exist only in our minds.

This is perhaps the ultimate irony: conforming to external influences can create internal barriers. This was certainly my own personal experience: only when I reached this ‘moment of clarity’ did I realise my true power and become aware of my resilience, and the happiness, insight, peace, and optimism available to me just by thinking differently.

I learnt that in order to preserve the life I cherish and to move forward to the life I desire, I cannot simply wait for things to fall from the sky. Instead, I must be proactive and seize the day, making the most of any opportunities and refusing to be daunted by obstacles.

Passion, Obsession, Commitment and Authenticity are the Backbone.

Much change is incremental, but if needed, we must be ready to take giant leaps forward and even behave in a slightly crazy way until we achieve the results we want.

Rather than see challenges as a problem, we should look at them as opportunities. By overcoming adversity, we can learn and grow. In other words, we should start to see obstacles as advantages.

Other people may not understand – they may criticise or even scorn you, or look at you as if you’re crazy. But remember that that’s not important, because the only judgement you should heed is your own, and that of your Creator. As long as you stay true to your vision, it doesn’t matter how the world sees you.

You have probably experienced this at some point in your life. Hopefully you’ve also had moments where you’ve seen how powerful and transformative it can be to have the audacity to believe in yourself.

You’ll experience setbacks and people will either inadvertently or deliberately place obstacles in your path. There will be times when you may feel lost or overlooked, or as if the walls are closing in on you.

People will make assumptions on you based on superficial things, but again, remind yourself that this doesn’t matter. Instead, focus on your dreams and visualise how your life will be once you achieve them. Faith and hope will give you the strength to persevere, to pick yourself up again and keep moving forward, even through the storm.

According to former First Lady Michelle Obama, it’s up to us to define ourselves and it’s our responsibility to invent our own future through the choices we make and the actions we take. Feelings of despair, rejection, anger, anxiety are not excuses to just throw up our hands and surrender. We must never lose hope, no matter how tempting that may be in our darkest moments.

Even at our lowest ebb, when we are beset by doubts, we can still win. It takes will and effort, but by channeling our frustrations into studying, organising our lives and training our minds to persevere, we can overcome anything that stands in our way. Always remind yourself that nothing is going to stop you from fulfilling your dreams.

Be focused, be determined, be disciplined, be passionate, be authentic, be hopeful, be empowered and above all, keep moving forward. Keep breaking down those barriers and you will reap the rewards. The day will come – and soon – when you truly Rise and Shine.