To thine own self be true. --- Shakespeare
e yourself. Just be yourself. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Once we learn how to come home, go within, and know ourselves, all we need is to be ourselves.
Well, maybe this is not so easy. Does the thought of being yourself, speaking your truth, and expressing your passion stir feelings of confusion or frustration? Does it bring up fear or anger? Were there times in your life when you tried to just be yourself and it wasn’t really appreciated?
Maybe you tried to be loving, or honest, or express an emotion and it was not well received. Perhaps you were invalidated, or even shamed. Maybe you were taught that being yourself was simply not enough, that you had to be special, better, or “perfect” before you were acceptable.
Is 'Being Myself' Good Enough?
For much of my life, I have been haunted by the terrifying belief that being myself was not nearly enough. Having had few healthy role models in my childhood, and knowing little about who I truly was, I readily followed anyone who appeared to know what they were doing or talking about.
At age 19, I worked with a big, loud fellow, about 10 years older than myself, who seemed so powerful, cool, and confident. How I longed to be less shy, more self-assured like him! Later, his marriage and life fell apart, and it became clear that he was very insecure, with big masks and arrogance covering up his deep insecurities.
A local beauty salon has a sign in the window, Be Beautiful. Be Yourself. Below the words is a photo of a glamorous fashion model. But does an expensive hairstyle make someone more oneself? Does the cover of the book really foretell its essence?
Our culture confuses the exterior with the interior, often at a painful price. Like the Velveteen Rabbit from the children’s storybook, there is a time to get real, to recognize and reveal the essence beneath the shell.
Are You Being Yourself? If Not, Then Who?
Are you being yourself? If not, who are you being? Are you being your authentic Self, or your egoist self? Are you being the beautiful (regardless of your hairstyle) and powerful person you came here to be, who God or the Universe created? When you speak, do you hear your own voice of truth and power? If not, whose voice do you hear?
Or, do you create so much busyness that there is no time for what matters, what brings you joy, being real and true to your Self? Are you too wrapped up in the human drama, acting like someone else? The world needs you to show up in the fullness and greatness of who you are.
Who Are You To Be So Bold?
Many of us learned early on that being ourselves was not enough, or not okay. Who are you to be so bright or bold? Those parents and adults who, as children, were not given a safe space to be their own full, magnificent selves unconsciously limit the authenticity in others. We do what we were taught.
It may have been dangerous to be ourselves. Jesus, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma’s imprisoned leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991) are exceptional examples of people who spoke their truth. They were their powerful authentic selves, and of course, they were killed or imprisoned for it. Many of us fear, even as we envy, those who demonstrate what we ourselves are afraid to say or do.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The Hindu scriptures declare that those who habitually speak the truth develop the power of materializing their words. What commands they utter from the heart will come true in life.” We can practice authenticity in words, action, and even thoughts. Honesty heals, and what we put out into the world comes back around to us. Hurtful acts and dishonest deeds cannot result in loving, healing outcomes. Yet one true statement can dissipate dozens of deceits.
The Yoga Sutras use the Sanskrit words satya (truth), and ahimsa (nonviolence), which Gandhi combined and utilized in transforming India. We need to align our truth with the compassion of the heart. If we are not careful, honesty can be thinly disguised hate, jealousy, or cruelty.There is an Arabian proverb: “When you shoot an arrow of truth, dip its point in honey."
Being Vulnerable & Becoming Real
To heal, we first need to become real, willing to recognize and open up the wounds, which at first may feel counterintuitive and countercultural. There is an Ethiopian proverb, “He who conceals his disease cannot be cured.” Do not let pride mask your wounds. When you are strong enough to be vulnerable, and reveal your soft side, you may find that the world, rather than tear into your underbelly, may offer a healing touch and help guide you back to yourself.
When we are open and truthful with others and ourselves, we say to the universe and prove to others that we are trustworthy. We begin to attract more sincere and reliable people into our lives. Living an authentic life means giving permission not only to yourself, but also to others to be true to dreams, heart, and gut.
Gandhi said that the ends must match the means. He used the word Satyagraha, literally meaning “holding onto truth” or “soul force.” We are presently moving into a new paradigm, where satyagraha is essential.
And you will know the truth,
and the truth will make you free.
--- Jesus, in John 8:32
* In your daily interactions with people, notice how it feels when you are being authentic and genuine, versus fearful or phony.
* How does it feel when you tell the truth? How does it feel to your body? To your Soul?
Contemplation: True to Self
* Give thanks and have compassion for your masks, yet let them soften and peel away.
* Breathe in: I am honest and authentic with myself.
* Breathe out: I am honest and authentic with others.
Reprinted with permission of the author Roy Holman,
Holman Health Connections. ©2010.
Healing Self, Healing Earth: Awakening Presence, Power, and Passion
by Roy Holman.
About the Author
Roy Holman is a certified Yoga, Meditation, and Healing Instructor who has been teaching personal growth and Earth stewardship for over ten years and leads retreats to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Sedona, and in his home state of Washington. Roy also spent several years abroad doing human rights work in Central America. Visit his website at www.holmanhealthconnections.com.