It seems that this year’s theme is all about ‘to thine own self be true.’ This reminds me of another quote, not from Hamlet, but from ‘The Mists of Avalon’ which ends: ‘…and to every man his own truth, and the god within.’
Ever since I read that line, I resonated with it. I could feel the truth of that statement at a deep level – for me at least, since truth is about what is right for each individual.
If you want to know what is true, you have to know WHO YOU ARE – otherwise how can you know your truth?
We enter the world as our own person, but also as a blank slate and that blank slate is influenced by the people around us, by their values and beliefs. That goes not just for our upbringing but for school, college and the workplace – even friends and authority figures. All those sources will be feeding us ideas and beliefs of what is true, and it is up to us to accept or reject those concepts. We do this naturally growing up.
Unfortunately, we don’t consciously realise that is what we are doing, so when we take on someone else’s belief, perhaps because we admire them, want to be like them or want to impress, we don’t realise that it may not be in line with our inner truth. We take it on board as part of self, where we soon forget it actually came from another source.
Sometimes we hear truth that is OUR truth and we take that on in the same way. The difficulty is, separating the wheat from the chaff!
It takes work but it is an interesting exercise to write out who you believe yourself to be. Write a list of your personality traits, your beliefs and ideas about the world; what is right and what is not.
Then take each one and see whether you can trace it back to where it came from. Is it an idea you got from a friend, a parent, even a celebrity you admire, or what you consider to be a reliable source of written information such as a book or website? (NB Remember to read this article through, but don’t accept my ideas unless it resonates with YOUR inner knowing!).
Once you know the source, it helps you look at it more objectively. Try saying the belief or character trait out loud. Here are some examples:
I believe I am powerful.
I believe I cannot change my circumstances.
I am loud and exuberant.
I am quiet and non confrontational.
Ask yourself some questions:
- How do you feel when you say these things out loud?
- Does it feel right?
- Do you feel uncomfortable?
- Does it trigger some kind of emotional response? If it does – pay attention as that is useful information.
Try to notice if there is any physical response from your body – e.g. you might get a sinking feeling, a cramp in your stomach or a feeling of shortness of breath. It could be as subtle as an eye twitch or clenched teeth. Those are all important clues that can lead us to understand how we really feel about the ideas, beliefs and character traits that make up who we are.
If you are patient (or even if you are not!) you can slowly sift through your list. Some statements may be in line with your true self, but you will find some that are not.
It can be a very liberating experience but can also take some courage because when you peel away all the stuff that was never really you and decide what IS, you may have to deal with disappointment and dismay from other people.
Not everyone will be happy when you do not live up to their expectations, especially if it means you have changed the dynamic between you in a way that does not suit them. This is actually a massive subject, so I’ll need to come back to that in a future blog – watch this space!
So, what about the aggrieved outcries of “You’ve changed”? Well… newsflash! We are evolving and changing all the time. We don’t just arrive at our true self and then stop developing. Life is continuous growth and progress. However, you want to evolve from a clear, uncluttered place that is authentically you, so that, from there, you can move to the next bigger and better version of yourself.
Life is a journey and an important part of that journey is the unfolding of who you really are. Go for it! There are no limits – only those you impose upon yourself.