Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"To Thy Own Self Be True"

A scene from one of my favorite movies comes to mind when I think about this famous quote from Shakespeare's play Hamlet.  In Runaway Bride, the main character, Maggie, just cannot make it to the altar though she tries many times with different fiances.  As the daughter of an alcoholic father, Maggie has learned the art of disconnecting from her needs and desires in order to become what significant people in her life want her to be.  Each fiance likes his eggs prepared a different way so in complete conformity, Maggie orders her eggs prepared in the same fashion.  She has lost that essential part of herself, which is why she can never commit to another.

The process of discovering or rediscovering one's true self--not the self defined by relationships, prescribed roles or occupations--is the core of recovery and healing.  It is finding the answers to questions such as "Who am I?" "How do I want to be in this world?" and "What do I really want to do with this life I have been given?"  Answering these questions is not as easy as one would think--it can be pain-staking and grueling but the answers are found only by being completely honest and authentic.

To live a fully authentic life means that we demonstrate both an outer and an inner authenticity.  Outer authenticity requires a congruency between what we say and do with what is really going on inside of us.  Our words and behavior line up with our true self.  Inner authenticity involves knowing ourselves and maintaining an awareness of our inner states--our values, beliefs, emotions, thoughts dreams and fears.

I am discovering that it is one thing to live a fully authentic life while a single woman and another entirely as a married individual.  I've lived my entire life trying to measure up to the standards and value system of others and trying to conform and contort myself into shapes that fit the expectations of significant people in my life.  Capitulating to the belief or value system of another is as familiar to me as the back of my hand--it is my default setting.  I value my relationship with my spouse and want to please him so it is incredibly easy for me to abandon myself in favor of whatever idea or notion he espouses.  Not that he requires or even asks this of me--this is something entirely within me that still needs healing and transformation.

I'm impressed by some of the words that Steve Jobs shared with graduates at Stanford University six years before his death:
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking.  Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary."  Steve Jobs

I have known the enslavement of living with dogma and the opinions' of others.  Recovery of my true self has involved a lot of emotional sifting, sorting and discarding.  Living out of my true authentic self means that I no longer espouse beliefs that I was told I had to embrace, nor do I conform to roles prescribed for me or affirm values that do not reflect my most cherished beliefs.  I am learning how to be me, an original work of art created by an Artist who specializes in capturing the true essence of an individual.  And like Maggie, it began with something as simple as deciding how I like my eggs.  I have learned that you need to know yourself in order to be true to yourself and that once you discover your true self you have to guard against abandoning or compromising that truest you.  And everything else is simply secondary.


  1. So Very true I find it hardest to be true to myself when I am the most in love with someone and I give them my heart. Not realizing if they are truly in love with me they want my true self.