We hear often enough the phrase, "be true to yourself."
But what exactly does that mean?
In the day-to-day world, it means getting clear on what your hopes, dreams and aspirations are — and then pursuing them unwaveringly. It means trusting and following your your gut feeling on issues that come up in your life.
There's another way to define being true to yourself. By this definition it means being true to what's here, to what's real in your life now, in this moment, in each moment as it arises. Less about true to what you want in life, though that can be a facet of it.
But ultimately, more about true to what your life is, to being okay with who and what you have in your life, even if it looks nothing like what you ever wanted or dreamed or planned for it to.
Even beyond being true to all that, it's about being true to who you are and how you are.
What I'm talking about here is being true to you the person, as you are, in all your humanness. Being willing to look at yourself honestly, just as you are. Even if you don't like what you see. Even if you hate what you see. Even if what you see is a bunch of weaknesses, failures, faults, and all the other stuff most of us are all-too-ready to point out in others -- but largely unable or unwilling to really see and admit to in our own selves.
If we deny and avoid these shadow aspects of ourselves when we get glimpses of them then we aren't being true to ourselves. Which means we're not being true to Truth. We don't come to know Truth by avoiding anything, by pretending that these things we don't like or can't stand about ourselves don't exist.
Nor is it true to our ourselves to immediately decide we must change and eliminate these things when we do spot them. Truth is just facing. Facing the things about ourselves that we've been avoiding and running from, even if they're not fun or pretty to admit to. Facing the pains, fears and unpleasant feelings that we've pushed under the carpet over the years, and keep pushing under the carpet on a daily basis.
When we're ready and willing to lift the carpet and allow all these hidden things to see the light of day, that's when we're being true to ourselves. This is true freedom. And when we're being true to ourselves, Truth will naturally and organically effect change if/when/as it's needed.
"Why is it that I find it so hard to take time for myself? Time to be, rather than time to do. And often what is urgent elbows its way to the forefront of my day and the important gets trampled in the rush." -author unknown
When you're busy, one of the hardest things to get yourself to do is stop a minute and ask yourself if you like being so busy -- and if not -- then why you keep yourself so busy in the first place?
When life is naturally busy, that's one thing. When we purposely choose to be busy though we could be giving attention to what we most care about and yearn for, that's another.
If the latter description fits you, ask yourself now -- Why do I keep busy?
Is it that you're not satisfied with what you have now? Not satisfied with the speed at which life is giving you what you want?
Do you feel you have to step in and force life to give you what you want, when you want, by constantly staying active, trying hard, keeping the ball rolling?
Or could it be that you're distracting yourself from something you don't want to feel or face? An emotion like pain or fear?
It goes without saying that people aren't wired to want to feel negative feelings and emotions. What we can so easily overlook is that a lot of what we do in our lives, a lot of our supposed busy-ness -- is the result of things we've put there to mask an underlying emotion that we just can't or won't face.
Have you investigated to see if your busy-ness is the result of trying to avoid a difficult feeling?
You might ask, "Why does this matter? Maybe I'm running from a difficult emotion, but what of it? I'd rather run than feel it."
Fair enough, and the answer to that question really all depends on you. Are you okay with your hurried pace of life? Are you willing to risk whatever health, relationship or other consequences may result from your intense lifestyle?
If pain is what you're running from, then the eventual pain from these consequences is likely to catch up with you further down the road anyway.
Would it be so bad to just let yourself face and deal with the pain by slowing down your pace and tackling it in bite sized pieces?
That's not the most popular approach to pain, but it actually works. You do work your way through it eventually. And you're left free to live you life how you choose to, rather than how you have to just to numb out the stuff you don't want to feel.
We spend so much time, effort and energy keeping our walls up, trying our damnedest not to let a crack in our shells.
Understandably so. We started building those walls as we grew, as we began to realize that the world wasn't always the friendly place we thought it was when we were more innocent and less experienced.
People, we saw to our horror and dismay, could shout, scream, curse, and kick us when we least expected it. We could be called names, shamed, and ridiculed. We could lose what we most loved and gain what we most hated.
In order to function properly, we did what we had to do in order to survive: we erected walls to keep those bad experiences out. The function of those walls was to serve as a barrier or buffer against life's painful experiences, but we still planned on letting in the joyful experiences.
The problem with walls is that they don't filter out the good from the bad. They minimize the feeling of the joys along with the pains.
You're fully grown now, and you have a much better perspective on the world. You can see that all those things that happened to you actually had almost nothing to do with you, needn't reflect on you and who you are.
What would happen if you started deconstructing some of those walls?
It would probably be intense. You'd surely have some past pain to catch up with. And for a while, it may feel like the end of the world as you know it.
But it wouldn't be the end of the world. More like just the beginning.
You'd be like a chick that finally hatched after all that time being cooped up inside a cramped eggshell. Suddenly you'd be living life outside the shell, without your walls acting as a massive filter to keep life out there and you "safe" over here.
It would be scary. You'd be vulnerable to life's cruelties again.
But you're grown now. You know enough to know you have a choice, that you don't have to take life personally. You know you can feel pain and let it pass without having to go through the great effort of trying to block it out (which doesn't work all that well anyway, and has a lot of negative side-effects).
Without your walls, you would be living life as it is -- not life as you want it to be, demand it to be or think it should be.
You would no longer be living life from the lens of your mind anymore.
You'd be living life as as newly hatched chick. Fresh, innocent, simple, free.
This Time Around
Must have had my fill of keeping life at bay.
Got a crack in my shell the other day.
Now, through the crack, life suddenly courses.
Nobody needs to call the king’s horses.
Nor do they need to call the king’s men.
This time around,
I’m letting life in.
Just a gal experimenting with what it means to live outside of mind.
Read more about Notes to Self, the "manual" on living beyond mind.