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Today we ask you to be true to yourself.

Be true to yourself.

Do what feels good, right, and harmonious to you.

This sounds like it shouldn’t be so hard, but for many people, this is harder than competing in an Olympic sport or climbing Mount Everest.

Why is it so difficult to be true to yourself?  To be true to your unique, individual nature?

There are many reasons for this.  Humans are social animals, interdependent on one another.  Children naturally seek out the approval of parents, teachers, and peers.  If parents, teacher, and peers continually tell them that they must be different from who they are and suppress their natures, they will generally do so.  It is a simple survival tactic.  Humans do what they must to survive.

But of course this particular survival tactic leads to no end of misery.  Suppressing your true self is like going through life with your dominant arm tied behind your back.  You are cut off from your strength.  You feel chronically frustrated.  Something is wrong here.  You lose feeling in the tied-up arm, but it still aches.  You sense it is there.

So it has ever been for homosexuals who felt shame around their natures and tried to live as heterosexuals.  So it has ever been for women who lived out traditional mother/wife roles when it was not their nature to do so.  So it is for people who spend their days doing things they have no real interest in, to please their families and fit into society.  

Historically, and in modern suppressive societies, people did these things because they wanted to physically survive and not be punished.  In modern, more tolerant societies, it is not so cut and dry — but people often still believe that they have no choice, that they must live inauthentically if they want to survive.

There is no judgment around any of this.  If you are a woman living in society dominated by a fundamentalist religion that requires you to cover your body and face in order to physically survive, you must do so — even if it goes against your nature.

However, many people living in modern, basically tolerant societies live in constricted ways, in jobs and relationships that are not harmonious for them.  Generally physical survival is not on the line in these situations.  But people believe it is — such as when people remain in disharmonious marriages for the sake of the children, or make major life choices to please their families.

This is not to say that you are a victim if your day-to-day work is not a “dream job,” or if you have not found your “soul mate,” and so on.  It is completely possible to engage in very mundane, humble work in a way that honors your True Self.  For example, if a mundane, humble job gives you the space and freedom to engage in creative expression that brings you joy, then that is in alignment.

However, if you are in a profession with a large salary and all the trappings that come with it, yet feel hopeless and suffocated — that is not in alignment.

So the question is: how can you be true to yourself?

First of all, you cannot be true to yourself if you don’t know who you are.  Once you know who you are, it is much easier.

Consider the case of the woman living in a religious society, who must cover her body and face.

Perhaps she is a true believer in the religion.  In that case, there is no conflict, because her actions are in alignment with her beliefs. 

On the other hand, she may believe that the religious law is suppressive.  She does not like dressing in this way.  However, she knows she must engage in the practice because she wishes to physically survive.  Here there is discomfort, but no conflict.  She knows who she is.  She knows that if she lived in a different place, she would not dress this way.  So she does what she must, for the time being.

The problem arises when the woman is conflicted.  She has been indoctrinated into the religious culture, and thinks she should believe in what she is doing, but something feels wrong.  She feels guilt and shame over having these doubts.  Covering her body and face makes her unhappy, but she doesn’t know why, and feels like a bad person because of it.  She does not know who she really is.  Her True Self is calling her to reject the religious doctrine, but this is frightening.

When you know who you are and what you are about, you do not suffer in this way.  You may be uncomfortable living in a society that is hostile to your self-expression.  But you do what you must.  You are like a spy for the Resistance working against the Nazis in World War II.  You do not believe in the dominant culture.  You wear a disguise in order to protect yourself, but you know what your mission is, you know where you come from.  You then may work in subtle ways to bring about change.  

In this way you are always seeking greater harmony, always moving toward greater freedom, even living in a suppressive environment.  If you make compromises along the way, it is always with the understanding that you are working toward that which is more harmonious with your True Self.

So that is what it means to be alignment with the True Self.  It means you feel no shame about who you are.  Perhaps you are a woman required by religious law to cover your body.  You do so without the belief that there is anything shameful about your body.  Perhaps you are a homosexual living in a culture that treats homosexuals with violence.  Of course you must hide who you are — but without any shame.  You are like a spy for the Resistance among the Nazis.  You are integrated, and acting from a place of power, even if to someone else’s eyes you do not appear powerful.

Therefore it is possible to be true to yourself even when living within a suppressive society.

It thus follows that it is possible to be true to yourself in a more open, tolerant society.

This simply means rejecting things that you have been taught by your families, peers, and cultures that make you feel ashamed about who you are and what feels good to you.  It does not mean that you need to have a violent confrontation with your family and culture. It just means deeply knowing, without shame, that their way is not your way.

Of course, that is a very challenging thing to do.

But it is much harder in the long term to live in out of alignment with your True Self, feeling shame about your nature, in a state of chronic misery.

So if you feel unhappy and constricted in your life, look to ways you might be out of alignment with your true self.  

In particular, look at beliefs that you may have picked up from your family, peers, and culture that make you feel ashamed about who you are, and ashamed of doing what feels right and good to you.

People in open, tolerant societies like to think they are progressive.  But in many ways they are just as intolerant as obviously suppressive societies.

Sometimes it is easier for a woman in a burka to feel more in alignment with herself than a woman in a business suit.  It all depends on knowing what you really are about in life.

Be true to yourself.  Do what is harmonious with your nature.  Even if you must make compromises, know what you do and why, and always work toward the greater good.

 

 

 

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