Angelina Jolie says her kids helped her rediscover and embrace her "true self."

The 44-year-old actress discussed her children and the importance of living freely in the December issue of Harper's Bazaar.

Jolie is parent to six kids, Maddox, 18, Pax, 15, Zahara, 14, Shiloh, 13, and Knox and Vivienne, 11, with her ex-husband, actor Brad Pitt. She said she's finding herself again following her split from Pitt, health issues and other challenges.

"The part of us that is free, wild, open, curious can get shut down by life. By pain or by harm," Jolie said. "My children know my true self, and they have helped me to find it again and to embrace it."

"They have been through a lot," she added of her kids. "I learn from their strength. As parents, we encourage our kids to embrace all that they are, and all that they know in their hearts to be right, and they look back at us and want the same for us."

Jolie said she encourages her children to explore who they are and what they stand for.

"Knowing our true self is a very important question for all of us. Especially a child. I think kids need to be able to say, 'Here's who I am, and what I believe,'" she said. "We can't prevent them from experiencing pain, heartache, physical pain, and loss. But we can teach them to live better through it."

Jolie voiced her admiration for people who live authentic and free lives.

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"I see so much beauty in other people. Not when they are pretending to be something other than their true selves. Not when they are harming others. Not when they lie. But the wild ones. The emotional, open, searching ones, longing to be free," she said. "The honest ones. Because anything else is a cage impossible to live in."

Jolie and her five younger children attended the Los Angeles premiere of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil together in September. Jolie said in a subsequent interview that she hopes the film encourages people to be themselves.

"Be your true self," the star said. "Say to children, 'No matter how people se you or how they say you should be, be your true nature, whatever that may be. You'll find a home for it, you'll find acceptance because you have to."

"We're not here just to exist," she added. "You have to know what you stand for."

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opened in theaters in October.