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.
Ever feel like you're not living up to your own standards, hopes and expectations for yourself? Like you're letting your own self down in some (or many) ways?
If you find that you're "down" on yourself lately, consider this question: Why do you hold yourself to certain standards? Surely for the same reason that anyone does: you have an image of yourself as someone who is (or at least who should be) "good," "caring," "successful," "spiritually evolved," etc., etc. And when you catch yourself in actions that don't conform to the image you've set for yourself, you feel as if you've failed yourself.
The keyword in the last two sentences is the word "image." An image is just that: it's an image, which by definition is a mental representation, idea, or conception. What that means, in essence, is that it doesn't have permanence, reality or true substance, any more than any other thought does. And yet we imprison our own selves with standards and images for ourselves that we've taken on as "musts" from society at large.
No image can be consistently or permanently upheld by anyone. The person who appears "good" one day will, at least to some one or ones, appear to be "bad" another day. One who is "successful" and "spiritually evolved" one day is bound to appear "unsuccessful" and "spiritually immature" another day.
We all know that there's no such thing as a perfect or flawless person. But we like to imagine that we ourselves are very close to perfect and flawless. This is straight ego, that ego-sense that "I" am "special," I am "great," so all of my actions should support this image I have of myself. So when -- surprise! -- something happens to prove that we aren't, in fact, even close to conforming to our pre-held image, we often hate and berate ourselves for it.
If someone were to ask us point blank if we perceive ourselves as awesome at whatever we want to be seen as awesome for, we're usually realistic enough to realize we can't be "the best" at most things in life, and we would stutter out a humble answer. And yet ego tells us we can at least be pretty darn close to the best, if we just try enough. So we expect the highest standards from ourselves and we struggle to achieve them. We have to be a top rate mother, brother, son, aunt, employer, employee -- you name it.
This sets us up to become unhappy when we drop the ball and don't measure up. Likewise, we want others in our life to behave in a perfect and flawless way, especially toward us.
Isn't it time to free ourselves from the idea that we (and others in our lives) should be flawless beings? Rather than trying to hold yourself to a fixed image and fighting with the imperfections, allow them to be there. You don't have to be great, excellent, or even the best at anything to be 100% worthy. Just be you. Leave the super humanness to the super heroes.
“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.” ~Doris Mortman
There’s a lot of talk out there about improving self-esteem and learning self-love. Of course there is. Those things make us feel better about ourselves, no doubt.
But is that the same thing as being truly and fully at peace with oneself?
The question of self-acceptance comes up for me every so often. Sometimes it seems like a tricky one. Who’s supposed to be accepting who? My egoic self accepting itself? The non-egoic Self accepting the egoic self? — or would that be the non-egoic Self accepting the non-egoic Self?
Silly, really. There’s only one self “happening.” In my moments of greater clarity, I know that it’s not about accepting me, the person, but me, the moment.
By accepting the moment, I’m automatically accepting my self. And then it’s no longer relevant which self. The self that’s creating and the self that’s experiencing are one and the same, after all.
Regardless of how much or little esteem you have for yourself, the true test of being at peace with yourself and with who you are is your level of okay-ness with life and with what you’ve been handed and are handed each moment.
It’s only when we’re living through the lens of ego that we take issue with what’s happening because ego is wired to want only “good” things for itself. If it’s “bad” or unpleasant, ego immediately chalks it up as something that shouldn’t be happening and goes into fight mode with it.
If we can trust that every thing, feeling, person and experience that comes into our life has arrived because we, from the within, set it into motion, we can relax about life.
No matter what’s taking place, life is much easier when we no longer fight and struggle against what’s here. When we trust what’s here, even if it’s not a bed of roses.
Life may not always be what we dreamed or hoped it would be. It may, in fact, be everything we always hoped and prayed it would never be. And yet, if that’s what it is at a given point in time, it’s a valid experience. And it’s what we, at the deepest level, want to experience at that moment.
We’re not just here for the bliss moments. We’re here for the full gamut of experience.
Are you okay with your life and current life circumstances now, just as it is — problems and all? Are you okay with what you have (and what you don’t have)? Or do you feel that you need more, better, different — that something needs to change — before you can feel truly fulfilled?
The “before you can feel truly fulfilled” bit is the kicker here.
There’s nothing wrong with working towards change. Life is designed to change constantly, with or without our help. But “our help” doesn’t always work, at least not at the pace we’d like it to. The problem is when we can’t accept how slowly it’s changing and reject the moment instead of realizing that it’s meant to be as it is for as long as it is.
Making peace with who you are goes beyond self-esteem. It’s not about getting more of what you imagine will fill you, nor about improving yourself to the point that you’re finally able to love yourself. Nor is it even about learning to love the things you previously hated about yourself.
Real peace with who you are comes when you can look at yourself, not like who or what you see, and even be okay with not liking yourself.
Real peace with yourself comes when you can look at your life, as it stands with all its lacks, faults, troubles and imperfections, and not feel instantly compelled to fill, solve, fix and improve it in order to be able to feel happy or love yourself.
Real peace with who you are comes when you can let yourself, and life, be.
True sanity is to know one’s
“identity” as the Ultimate--
the permanent and unchanging Self...
to know that all that happens and
is seen in the apparent world is,
in fact, of the Ultimate
Poem from Notes to Self: Meditations on Being
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.