Sunday, January 26, 2014

To Thine Own Self Be True … But First You Have to Know Who the Person in the Mirror Really Is

“Be Yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
~Oscar Wilde
After a decade of trying to be the Real Me – the  me I was born to be – circumstances still come up that remind me I have a way to go when it comes to being my authentic self.  This means knowing what I want and don’t want, and having the confidence to let people know me as I really am. For example, I recently turned what had promised to be a lovely week into seven days of personal torment, and all because a friend invited me to an event I didn’t want to attend.  So why didn’t I just say no, thanks?

Fear:  Fear that I would hurt my friend’s feelings.  Fear that I would be seen as unfriendly.  Fear that my reputation as an enthusiastic participant, always ready to go, always someone you could count on would be jeopardized.  If I didn’t go, what would she think of me?
Then I asked myself, if I do go what will I think of me?  I knew the answer to that one: I’d think that here I am again feeling that I have to live up to someone else’s expectations of who I am and what I should be doing instead of knowing myself and having the courage to reveal the real me to the world.  
Everybody does this to some degree, and sometimes with much more serious results than an unpleasant evening.  We’ve all gotten ourselves into undesirable situations by not knowing who we truly are, and giving others a false impression of who we are.  Going to events you don’t want to attend is just one of the minor ones.  Consider some other choices: marrying the wrong person, investing decades in the wrong career, accepting a promotion you don’t want because it’s expected, and in general just letting other people determine our lives because we don’t have the self-awareness to know who we are.
Fortunately for me, I’m at least on my way to finding out. I am committed to growing through life instead of just going through it. This means I recognize the fact that I now know what I need to do to continue working on resolving this self-identity challenge. I trust the technique I learned years ago to help me do “inner work” to release invalid thoughts, beliefs, life patterns and idealized and false self-images that block my ability to be the real me. I happily share the technique later on, but first want you to know how the process works in me.
The preparatory work normally unfolds like this:  After the unresolved life-issue I’m facing becomes clear, I withdraw into a quiet, alone time so that I am super aware of the thoughts that come into my consciousness. In this specific situation, (the event invitation), the following phrase immediately popped into my awareness and took up residence: “To thine own self be true.”  I realized from past “inner-work” that I was in the first-stage of the process and needed to stay focused and open to the thoughts that were being drawn to me.
As the thoughts continued to gather, Oscar Wilde’s quote wafted into my mind: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  I loved that because the humor made me laugh and lightened my approach. Then, to keep me on track, the original phrase popped up again, “To thine own self be true.” 
After several days of quiet contemplation, I realized a number of things.  The initial insight was that we all probably agree with the wisdom in these quotes.  The rub is that many of us are walking around presenting personalities that are a patchwork of characteristics that we’ve slapped together since childhood so that we would be more acceptable to others and society.  I understood that by the time we are adults we have totally submerged or at least camouflaged our authentic selves to the point that no one knows who we really are, including ourselves.
I also vividly recalled that at an early age I sensed that it was not only wrong to be who I was it was also unsafe.  Being a highly sensitive introvert, it wasn’t long before I had crafted the persona I thought would bring me the acceptance and joy I craved.  It didn’t. Now, I realize that all the time I was growing up I was also trying to be someone I wasn’t.  It felt like I was disconnected, incomplete and separated, and had to hide whatever and whoever I really was.  There was also a fear because I was faking it that at any time I could be unmasked for who I wasn’t, so my ego obviously had to do double or triple duty to keep the Real Me under wraps. 
I also was certain that if this is true for me, it’s true in some form or degree for many of us.  It saddened me to think that we could live our entire lives without ever fully knowing the truth of who we were born to be, and to live authentic lives.
At that time, I realized I had no idea of Shakespeare’s full quote so I looked it up on the internet and discovered another dimension to the importance of discovering our real selves.  The full quote goes like this: “To thine own self be true, and as sure as night follows the day, thou canst then be false to no man.”  So, if I didn’t know the Real Me, how could I be true to me and was I always therefore false to others?  Wow.  No wonder we live problematic lives, and relationships are so incredibly challenging.
What I recognized some time ago was that I was no longer comfortable pretending to be what I am not. Most assuredly this was enhanced by my advancing age, and a deep soul urging to experience “being” as much of the Real Me as I possibly could.
My latest opportunity to do so started with the telephone invitation from my friend.  I really didn’t want to go to the event.  All I wanted was to be open to the process within me that was triggered by her call.  This meant I needed to focus 100% on what was happening within me, and to continue using the technique daily. Every day I wanted to call and cancel, but just couldn’t do it.  I was sure she wouldn’t understand.
By the time the friend turned up at my door, I had spent a week wrestling with all the conflicting emotions and, without even thinking, I simply told her my truth. Her response was amazing. She admitted that she really didn’t want to go to the event either and didn’t know why she asked me.  As we tearfully and happily hugged each other, I smiled for I knew the pure joy I experienced was surely the direct result of being true to me.
While I recognize the Truth that who we are at the core of our being remains totally available to us regardless of our cover-ups, I’m certain that we’ve all tried so hard to be what we’re not that it has caused us a great deal of unhappiness and sadness.  I believe we crave being our real, authentic selves, who we were born to be, and to live the lives we were born to live.  We just need a desire, and the know-how to do it.
I know that this type of inner work requires commitment, resolve, and tenacity, but I also know that this is one of the most important lessons one can ever learn.  After all, if we don’t know who we really are, how can anyone else every truly know us.
Whether you want to commit to making a difference in the world or are simply seeking to create a better life for yourself, the following technique will prove helpful.  Either way it’s a win-win situation, for just by living a better life you will make a positive difference. If you desire additional information on this technique, check out Chapter 2 of my latest book, “Becoming a Spiritual Warrior of the Heart.”
·         Inner Work TechniqueCenter yourself by sitting quietly, saying prayers, listening to beautiful music, meditating or whatever process resonates within you.  Write out your intention: I claim release of any energies, thoughts and emotions that block the Real Me. Say it aloud, adding: I am divinely guided, guarded and protected.
·         Declare with emotion/resolve: I call forth the energies (past or present) that I have invested in the issues that have been repressed and depressed.  I thank them for serving me well, and am ready to release them.
·         Waiting:  It is our responsibility to trust, wait and allow the release.  I soon learned to raise my hands, with palms facing, and with great clarity to declare:  I am balanced between vulnerability (left hand) that allows the energy to rise within me, and equally empowered (right hand) to allow me to stay with the process.
·         Waiting patiently:  Usually I felt the energy begin to gather in the area of my sternum, and focused on just allowing it to be.  Quite often there were tears as the energy gathered force and I was able to fully face, feel and release it … without any idea of what it was about. 
·         Still waiting:  Sometimes I was led to add another affirmative prayer: I give every cell, organ, function of my being permission to release anything that isn’t for my highest and best good – no  matter where it is being held or how long it’s been held.
·         Success: The energy would build and finally crest in tears and sometimes sadness, but always followed by a notably strong energy release and a sensation of peace at the core of my being. 
·         Closing:   I gratefully ask the Universal Life Force-God-Good, to fill the now-empty spaces with light, love, blessings and freedom.
Copyright © 2014 Fern Stewart Welch
The author’s books: “Becoming a Spiritual Warrior of the Heart, (April 2013); “Tea with Elisabeth,” recipient of the 2010 Silver Award for Non-fiction; “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World,” (Nov. 2008), and “The Heart Knows the Way – How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within,” (Feb. 2008), are available at, other online booksellers, as well as bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble.