To thine own self be true
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” – William Shakespeare
This is the whole point of coaching; accessing this deep part of us and being in alignment with our heart’s desire. It is often difficult to hear our inner voice. We are often deafened by other people’s opinions or what we perceive to be our obligations. The non-stop litany of “woulda”, “coulda”, shoulda” simply numbs our listening skills.
There are also these roles we embrace: provider, rescuer, parent, teacher, big sister, boss, doctor, rebel… You name it! We then tend to behave in certain ways to remain congruent with these roles. A parent ought to do this this way. Being the boss requires to do that that way. We adapt consciously or not to these roles.
Also, we may want to please or appear a certain way. We want to cover up what we believe to be terrible flaws. We think: “if they knew this about me they surely would reject me”. There is what is fashionable or not, peer pressure, society’s approval, culture, credence, belief system, family structure.
Let us not forget all the labels that we get stuck with and that we apply to others. It is human nature to categorize, compartmentalize and sort out. She is good in sports, he is brilliant, they are lazy, fun, driven, talented, obnoxious… The list is endless. We are constantly in a process of assessing and describing. At times we give more credit to others opinion over our own and we simply adopt the labels or we work very hard at contradicting them.
The debate of culture over nature is an ageless one. It is difficult to say how much we are the product of our environment and how much is our fundamental personality. We are to some extent the crucible of circumstances and events. We get to be influenced and inspired by other human beings.
Some of us got lost when our inner voice got stifled. We censured ourselves to the point we no longer were capable to distinguish clearly what we really wanted. It is never to late to recover our voice. It is sometimes difficult in the sense that people around us are now used to seeing us in a certain way and they do not appreciate to see their boat being rocked. Other times there may be great surprises to find support where it was not expected.
One thing is for sure; there is no peace in playing a part. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep up appearances and to act rather than be. Moreover, there is no possibility for true connection with others. Brené Brown, among others, claims that vulnerability is the gateway to authentic connection and communication. Clearly, if the mask is on and the guard is up where is the exchange? It is only two people paying parts and putting on a show. What can come out of this?
On the other hand, when we dare to express ourselves and show our true colors what is the worse that can happen? Some will not like us? We may not fit in a certain place? Then should we be around these people or in that environment in the first place? I am not saying that a little compromise once in a while is not necessary. Once again it is as usual all a matter of balance. A certain adaptability is indispensable because we get to challenge ourselves, evolve and grow from certain experiences but only to a certain extent. It is for each one of us to set the limit of where we are in integrity with ourselves.
At this time of the year where we get to be around our family members it may be a little challenging to stay true to who we are. We can be thrown back into out old roles, confronted to the old labels that we worked hard to overcome. One minute at a time! It is also interesting to turn around the table and observe the assumptions we are making about these special people who have been there since childhood and for better or for worse. What filters are we applying to them? Cleaning up our own lenses is complex process because it challenges some of our oldest and most deeply rooted beliefs and certitudes.
My wish for all of us is that we may access this part of ourselves from which we get to be our true expression. And from this place I wish you to enjoy thoroughly deep and rich connections with your loved ones and share with them this most exciting adventure that is life.