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Ten ways to tell your true self vs conditioned self

Updated: May 16

The voice of our authentic selves can be very hard to hear over the busy, noisy conditioned mind. How do we know what part of ourselves to trust?


These are some hacks that help me tell the difference between the voice of my true self and my conditioned self. 


1.     Tone of voice

Conditioned Self: Often has a shaming, belittling tone. Can be loud and bullying. Judgmental and shaming. Sarcastic and sneering.

True Self:  Kind, compassionate and gives you the benefit of the doubt. Even if there is a passion or pressure behind the message, it's inspiring and supportive. Quieter and more subtle, especially at first.

Reflect: Is the voice you’re hearing an appropriate way to speak to a child? If not, it’s your conditioned self.

2.     Fear

Conditioned Self: Anxious and fearful. Offers worst case scenarios and likelihood of humiliation.

True Self: Can still be scared – especially of taking risks, stepping out of the comfort zone – but it’s the kind of fear that comes with daring and expansion. It’s “good fear.”

Reflect: The conditioned self does not like imperfection or failure. The true self is rooted in the externalness of the soul and knows nothing external is ever a threat.

3.     Response time

Conditioned Self: Typically our automatic, “knee-jerk” response.

True Self: Responds slower. Takes a holistic approach and may need a bit of time to take in all factors and provide an answer.

Reflection: Give yourself space - even just time to take a full inhale and exhale – to ask yourself what you want. It might be what to order from a menu, to say yes or no to an invite or what next to say in a conversation.

a vintage, mint green alarm clock

4.     Mind vs body

Conditioned Self: Lives in the mind. Think of the hamster wheel of thought. Often accompanied by shallow breaths, tight muscles and tense jaw. Can also take the form of a headache or stomachache.

True Self: Can be of the mind but is also somatic. Breath is slower and deeper. You might feel energy coursing through your body in the form of tingles or shivers. An authentic self knowing can feel like a body “hit,” like a rush of energy, a feeling of rightness in your gut. There can be an emotional component to it.

Reflection: Ground yourself in your body with slow deep breaths and paying attention to body sensations.

woman taking a mindful breath

5.     Urgency

Conditioned Self: You should do it right now, or better yet, yesterday. Stakes feel very high. Pressured and impatient.

True Self: Calmer, less rushed. Unhurried because it is unafraid. It's more like, "Hey, I wonder about this..."


Reflection: Take your time when responding to requests or invitations. Very few things in life are critical. You are allowed a few minutes or even days to respond. “Let me get back to you,” is a powerful statement.

6.     Certainty

Conditioned Self: Is very all or nothing, black or white.

True Self: Lives more in the gray. More moderate which allows for more options.


Reflection: Challenge yourself to not always know. It’s uncomfortable but this is where the good stuff happens.

7.     External vs internal

Conditioned Self: Concerned with what people will think, how we look, how we are perceived, what is expected, what is right or wrong, good or bad. It speaks in “shoulds.” The guidance is based on factors OUTSIDE us.

True Self: Inwardly focused, pursues what feels best INSIDE.


Reflection: It's a huge shift to prioritize inner guidance over outer guidance. And you're absolutely allowed to.

8.     Now vs future

Conditioned Self: Future-focused. Fears what could happen.

True Self: Present in the now, less concerned about the future.

Reflection: We never get to the “future.” Because when we do it will be the present. Life is happening now. If we want to be our authentic selves, we can only do it right now.

9.     Accuracy

Conditioned Self: Not concerned with facts or truth. Will throw any manner of bad outcomes, insults and doubt your way.

True Self: Reasonable and grounded in the truth that you are worthy, allowed to be imperfect and are already whole.


Reflection Challenge your thoughts many times a day by asking, “Is that true or just a projection?”


10.  Intent


Conditioned Self: Ultimately, to keep safe, but by keeping you small, socially aligned and not taking risks.

True Self: To expand, express and be free.


Reflection: Ask yourself, “Does this make me feel more like myself or less like myself?”

question: "Does this make me feel more like myself or less like myself?"

The difference between your true self and your conditioned self

Our authentic selves are kind, reasonable, nurturing, supportive and loving. They don’t kick us when we’re down or be the one to push us to the ground in the first place.

A good starting point is simply to label them when you hear them. Oh, that’s my conditioned mind. Wait a minute, I hear my true self.

All it takes it a few experiences with your true self to recognize the yammering manipulations of the conditioned self. There is no contest. The true self is a rare orchid and the conditioned self is a fake daisy that fell in a pile of dust behind a shelf at Hobby Lobby.

Part of living authentically is learning to listen to our true selves.

And we remember that our fear of trusting ourselves is simply part of our conditioning. We have been socialized to listen to everyone but ourselves.

Learning to differentiate between our true self and our conditioned self is POWER.

The goal isn’t to eradicate the conditioned self but to slowly stop engaging with it. Give it less airtime. Practice thought-stopping. Set clear boundaries with it.


The less we activate those neural pathways, the weaker they get. Neurons that don’t get used die. (The “use it or lose it” theory.) We don’t need to rail against them. The worst thing we can do is engage and battle with this voice. It will ALWAYS win. It will always come back stronger and meaner, with full knowledge of your deepest insecurities and fears.


We only need to slowly decrease its power.


Treat it like an irrational, over-tired child who went to the circus, missed their nap and only ate cotton-candy for lunch. Don't expect it to be reasonable. It can't be. It's not made to be.

Which is proof that it isn't us in the first place.

If you've ever unsure if you're hearing your true self vs your conditioned self remember this: your authentic self speaks in love.

quote by Suzanne C. Carver: "Your authentic self speaks in love."

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