Among the plethora of self-improvement books on the market today, Andrew Jenkins’ book You Are More Than You Think crafts a unique and practical approach to rediscovering your authentic self, or rather, who you are and what you want. With a conversational tone, Jenkins effectively combines relevant research and personal experience, then provides practical tools to integrate his practices into your daily life.
Before delving into the many layers of Jenkins’ book, it is important to first distinguish between the Acquired Self and the Authentic Self. The Acquired Self is the identity created through societal conditioning – being formed from the outside-in. The Acquired Self is guided by what Jenkins’ calls “limiting beliefs.” Limiting beliefs are ideas we form about who we are and what we want based largely on negative experiences throughout our life. For example, one of the most common limiting beliefs individuals hold is, “I am not good enough.”
The Authentic Self, on the other hand, is based upon our true wants, desires, and higher purpose. Jenkins argues through lifelong conditioning and personal experience, we create limiting beliefs as defense mechanisms – and as these limiting beliefs layer on, we get further and further away from our Authentic Self. Moreover, most of us get buried beneath these limiting beliefs and are never able to rediscover our Authentic Self.
Part I – Universal Principles of Reality and Freeing Your Mind
Jenkins begins by defining consciousness as “All That Is” – a universal interconnection shared by all living things. He also lays out the foundational principles of his findings, a few of those being that consciousness is eternal and shared, we create our reality through our intentions, and the present moment has the power to shift both the past and the future.
Jenkins defines creating our reality through our intentions as sophisticated, highly-concentrated thought-forms directing our actions and future based upon our needs, wants, and higher purpose. Jenkins notes that “unintentional intentions,” those driven by fear, worry, and limiting beliefs, lie within our unconscious mind and create our reality.
To prevent the manifestation of these “unintentional intentions,” Jenkins introduces the Grace Principle. The Grace Principle is guided by genuine, complete surrender and acceptance of all events, experiences and thoughts without judgment, guilt, need for validation or justification. Jenkins states that by “holding things loosely,” we can have our authentic desires and guiding purpose, not our unintentional intentions, create our reality.
Jenkins touches on several other Principles of Reality throughout the first part of his book, each of which is equally important to building the foundation of rediscovering your authentic self. The first part of his book establishes common language in the book, coming full circle with the practical exercises to be revisited in Part IV.
Part II – The Neurology of Our Internally Represented Reality
In Part II, Jenkins delves into the conscious and unconscious mind and how they work together to create “internal representations.”
The conscious mind is in charge of receiving and interpreting our external experiences, forming them into internal representations, and guides how we perceive the world. Because it largely operates upon external experience, the conscious mind is heavily associated with the acquired self. When uncontrolled, it can be overrun by limiting beliefs creating ideas about who you are and what you want based upon societal conditioning, rather than the authentic self. Jenkins states that allowing our conscious mind to form unchecked leads us to living as “prisoners of expectation.”
In contrast, the unconscious mind operates below the surface and is guided by togetherness, sharing, and relationships. The unconscious mind is a part of “All That Is” – allowing us to stay connected to our authentic desires and purpose. However, as we grow, society imparts its expectations and causes us to drift further and further from our authentic self. Jenkins argues the key to escaping the hold of our limiting beliefs is reconnecting with our unconscious mind, and therefore, our authentic self.
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Part III – Exposing and Loosening the Hold of the Acquired Self
In Part III, Jenkins lays the foundation for returning to the authentic self: the desire to change. Developing a growth mindset, Jenkins argues, is the most important factor in reconnecting with and living as your authentic self.
If we believe we cannot change, in other words, a fixed mindset, our internal representations and the way we experience our reality will reflect this belief. In contrast, if we adopt a growth mindset, and seek to grow, change, and evolve throughout our lives, we will be more open and willing to experiencing new things – which will inevitably help us rediscover our identity and purpose (i.e. the authentic self).
Jenkins also identifies the difference between the cycle of grief and its antidote, the cycle of grace. Developed by James Lawrence in his book titled Growing Leaders, the cycle of grief begins with our acquired conditioning, and as we repeatedly encounter the same problems, we develop (and reinforce) coping mechanisms that solidify these acquired behaviors. Moreover, achievement becomes the sole means to proving our identity, making our self-significance temporary and fragile because it is based on achievement alone. Jenkins provides a compelling antidote he calls the cycle of grace, in which we are able to sit with the unknown, experience life without judgment or expectation, and free ourselves from and achievement-focused sense of self-significance.
Part IV – Breaking the Patterns of the Acquired Self
In the second to last part, Jenkins delves into practical tools and applications for reconnecting with the authentic self. Jenkins first defines the difference between reactive and proactive reactions to external reality. Proactive reactions are grounded in a growth mindset and self-awareness, enabling the ability to make proactive interventions in our conditioned (or acquired) responses. Reactive reactions, on the other hand, are grounded in a fixed mindset and are acquired by limiting beliefs that reinforce negative thought and behavioral patterns.
Jenkins provides several practical exercises, each tailored toward a different layer of rediscovering your authentic self. Jenkins builds upon each exercise, starting first with an exercise to identify the experiences that conditioned us to think the way we do, and ending with exact language and anchoring tools to reinforce your renewed connection with the authentic self.
Throughout part four, Jenkins emphasizes the profound effect our thoughts have on our mind, emotions, and reality. Jenkins states, “all our thoughts are powerful means by which we constantly form, organize and co-create our reality every moment of our lives” (233). Our thoughts create our language, yet our language reinforces our thought patterns – for better or worse. Jenkins provides an expansive language set to effectively guide our future.
Part V – Returning to the Authentic Self
The last part of Jenkins’ book ties it all together – presenting several additional exercises and concluding points on how to effectively and sustainably reconnect with your authentic self. As Jenkins outlines in the book’s final pages, the ultimate steps in reacquainting with the authentic self are:
- Setting intentions that align with traits of the authentic self – relaxed, accepting, flexible, graceful, and loving.
- Being okay with vulnerability – understanding there is no failure, only feedback.
- How to develop tools and practices that help you stay connected with the present moment – such as meditation or hypnosis.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone and into your “stretch zone” – purposefully stretching towards new possibilities.
- Generating your authentic purpose – believing things will work out the way they are meant and accepting yourself as you are.
Jenkins’ work is unique and profound – stimulating deep introspection into the ways we think, why we think that way, and what kind of consequence these thoughts have on our everyday lives. Jenkins is gifted in his ability to combine scientific information and conversational prose in ways that are engaging and easy-to-absorb. Through the practical exercises, Jenkins prods the deepest workings of the human mind and challenges the reader to critically reflect on who they are and what they want. This book is so much more than just self-improvement – it delves wide and deep, and is a highly effective guide for you to rediscover and reconnect with your authentic self.