Lying to ourselves is the beginning of insanity. And it starts early.
- We feel something. We’re told, “Don’t feel that way.”
- We see something. We’re told, “You didn’t see that.”
- We want to be something. We’re told, “No, you can’t make a living at that.”
- We love someone. We’re told, “You can’t love that kind of person, you have to love this kind of person.”
We learn to deny our knowledge of ourselves in order to be be accepted. Then we go to school and our peers start in.
- Don’t dress like that, it’s not cool
- Don’t talk like that, you’re a geek
- Don’t show feelings, it’s weak
- Don’t watch that, read that, like that, do that, or you won’t have friends
And so we continue down the dark path.
Although we’re born knowing who we are, when that self does not “fit in” to family or society, we move away from it to survive. Only a few are strong enough to stay their true selves in the face of societal opposition. In time most of us become obscured from ourselves. Although negating ourselves allows us to survive in the world, separating ourselves from our truth is insanity.
If we’re lucky, at some point we recognize we don’t have to buy the lie anymore. Then we can start replacing the negative survival mechanisms. Uncovering, or recovering, our own true selves is, however, a challenging endeavor. It’s like we’ve walked into the dark woods for 20, 30, even 40 years and now have a long journey back out.
How can we untell the lies and rediscover our truths?
- Listen to ourselves – What are our deepest desires? What is it that we love to be or do that we have denied ourselves?
- Look at our relationships – Are we happy with the way we interact with others? Do we keep repeating the same negative patterns in relationships? Where are our blind spots and are we willing to look them in the eye?
- Learn to identify our feelings – Feelings are clues to our inner awareness – pathways back to that true self we’ve buried and forgotten. Some of us can’t even name our feelings, we’re so used to pushing them down or letting them simmer and explode. If we learn how to listen to them, feelings will tell us if we are moving toward or away from our inner truth.
- Give ourselves permission to be who we are – Maybe we’ve chosen a career that doesn’t feel right, or denied ourselves a hobby we love because it is judged negatively by society, or we don’t share our thoughts and feelings with those around us because we don’t trust them…we can start to recognize these ways we have pushed our true selves down, and allow them to slowly re-emerge.
- Find a non-judgmental support network – Those closest to us may not be able to hear and support our inner-most needs and desires, and so it’s important to look around for communities of people who understand. Find the places you feel safe sharing your true self, and then take advantage of the support.
These are just a few ideas for returning to your true self. What works for you? Share a little piece of sanity here.