It all started in childhood—as things do. I learned not to speak my truth. I learned that speaking my truth meant hurting other people—even if I was reporting the facts, even if was just saying how I felt. I also learned that speaking my truth meant that I would be hurt—rejected, criticized, and misunderstood.
As a result, I have been hyper-vigilant about sharing the “right information.” Trying not to say too much. Not calling a spade a spade when someone wants to believe otherwise. Anything and everything that I can think of to stop the hurt.
All this time, I believed what I had been told: that the hurt was my fault. Because I spoke the truth. So, I tried to hold it in, hold it down, explain a million times what I really meant—hoping to reclaim the truth of myself with someone else’s permission. I also noticed that I was not “allowed” to lie. Not telling the truth was like walking into an electric fence, the outcome of which I would be feeling for a long time afterward. Even the little stuff, the fibs and small concessions.
It’s easy to see how these experiences create stress. If I tell the truth, I hurt others; if I don’t tell the truth, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Throughout my life, I have come up with many creative solutions to this challenge, because I believed that I was the problem. I have never been like other people. This is not a claim to uniqueness born of an arrested adolescent belief that I am unlike others so that I can claim my individuated expression. This is a life lesson, hard-won after a lot of observation. I am simply not the average. I have spent my whole life teaching people to understand me. I paint the path. I show the steps. I warn them about the things that they are likely not taking into consideration. My hope has been that if I can create a clear enough path, I will be understood AND I will be loved. When people realize that I am good and loving, then it will finally be safe to speak my truth.
These deep wounds have not totally held me back, but they have dimmed my light. I have lived in their fearful shadow. I have lost my way because of them and not fully stepped in to my truest service: my mission to embody love and to speak truth. This kind of mission is not completed by just stepping in at the end, victorious. This mission is realized through the
deepest possible level of devotion—walking the path of life. The path where I learn step by step what truth is and how to speak it. Along the way, I have been gifted with more and more people who hear my truth even when I keep it inside. Because of them, I have become stronger.
I have also been gifted along the way by people who have taught me through their inability to hear me. While these are painful lessons, I recognize them as just as important. Because of them, I have also become stronger. So, I walk the path of this life to see myself and others as divine and perfect creations, and to offer us all the love we deserve. I walk this path to learn how to hold the truth in everything I do. I live in service to all the hearts that have not been seen and the voices that have not been heard.
As a being who is intrinsically connected to the rest of the world—whose personal wants are the whispers of the universe—your longings are not arbitrary, but essential. They are not whims, but movements of the divine. The deep wellspring from which your true nature flows is both unique and part of the divine unfolding.
“The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
While it is impossible to deny who we are—how can we be anything other than ourselves—paradoxically, we learn through the course of our lives to be more or (in many cases) less pure expressions of what resides in our heart of hearts. Being ourselves is the most natural and simple thing in the world, yet it can take quite a bit of effort.
To truly be living beings, we must surrender to the deeper truth of who we are, found through the exploration of what we love the most. It is when we are inspired, lit up, and aligned that we will find this wellspring of our eternal nature. And when it comes right down to it, anything besides being and doing what we love is, quite simply, a waste of our time.
“You are the perfect expression of the universe exactly where you are in this moment.” ~Alan Watts
Let’s not get confused on this point and think that life is easy and that our true nature will unfold without effort if only we are connected to it. All great works of art require effort and sometimes sacrifice. At times, our confusion about who we are can lead us to fixate on people, places, things, or ways of life that are not in alignment with who we truly are. In these moments of forgetting our self, we can be convinced that attaining the object of our desire will confirm something about us that we desperately want to believe (or disbelieve). These experiences can leave us wondering if we can trust the expressions of our deeper nature’s wants and desires.
But we can also use these moments to show us the nature of our own heart instead. We may learn through them what is not real and true, and we may find the opportunity to slip more deeply into what is. We can learn through these experiences that some love affairs are dalliances while others are romances that cross lifetimes, but all are beautiful teachers about the nature of our soul.
We can also sometimes be deeply disappointed by the twists and turns of life—what was once so clear and certain falling away as if it never was. We can feel in the words of Jennifer Welwood’s “The Dakini Speaks” that “life has broken her secret promise to us.”
In situations like these, we might start to doubt our direction and our deeper nature that called it forward, thinking that “we have been wrong before” and perhaps “it is better to save myself the heartache.” As we do this, our essential nature becomes more and more abstract and less and less realized. Or confusion increases and our investment in what is less ourselves does too.
Once we get confused and disconnected from our deeper nature, we are lucky if we can remember that our lives are meant to be an unfolding of our selves to ourselves. We are meant to be guided by our love, our happiness, and our dreams. We are meant to have our hearts broken as well so that we can continue to expand into bigger and truer dreams.
We really only have this one job in the course of our lives: being who it is we truly are. Navigating the pains that make us hold back and shut down. Finding, loving, and caring for what we are by our very design. Learning to bring that into the world with each opportunity. Living the paradox of knowing and not knowing ourselves.
Why do we dance this dance of being ourselves? Because there is a sacred fire burning in each one of us that demands a life fully lived.
If you are craving more meaning and a deeper sense of connection in your life, you will be aided by learning how to find your inner truth. Your inner truth is the part of you that knows what you truly need. It is the part of you that holds the deepest expression of who you are and is unconcerned with your personal egoic needs. While we talk about “how to find your inner truth,” your truth is never truly lost. More so, it is disconnected. When we talk about how to find your inner truth, we are talking about how to look and move within yourself and reconnect with that core source of you. Here are five steps to get you started:
Notice how you feel: One of the most important indicators of your inner truth is how you feel. How you feel helps you know what is true for you, what you are drawn to, and what decisions to make. To do this you need to know the difference between different types of emotion. Many people live in connection with their reactive emotions. These emotions are predominantly the result of prior experiences. While they inform us, they do not necessarily help with clarifying our inner truth. However once we clear these emotions, we get access to a deeper level of feeling that can help us know when and how to act as well as what is right for us.
Notice your affinities: Our deeper feelings help us see where there is resonance and alignment. Resonance and alignment help us see our affinities –what is it we truly like, love, and want in our lives. This builds off the concept that like attracts like. Who we are is also what we seek. We learn and grow in both knowing and living our own inner truth by recognizing where we have affinities and taking action to strengthen those relationships.
Express yourself: Keeping our truth to ourselves blocks us from knowing it more and being able to refine it. Conversely learning to express ourselves in the myriad of ways that life allows helps us know and develop our inner truth. Sometimes, as a result of the expression, we come up against opposition. This opposition serves as a further refinement of our inner truth. It helps us get even more clear about what we are all about and how we want to bring that to the world.
Listen to your heart: Whether you are noticing your emotions, your affinities, or the feedback to your personal expression, your heart is your guide to how to find your inner truth. The way your heart opens, closes, and feels helps you understand, in the most intimate way possible, what is true for you. When in doubt, tune into your heart and – no matter how far you have strayed – it will lead you back to what is most true for you.
Risk getting it wrong: There is no way to go through this process and get it right every time. Living your inner truth requires the humility to get it wrong and to try again. It is through this process – and only with this process – that we can truly uncover our own inner truth and learn to live it through the world. So, fail beautifully! And then do it again and again, and before you know it wonderful things will emerge.
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Oh, what tangled webs we weave! If the purpose of personal growth is to see ourselves and others clearly, then lies definitely get in the way. When we lie, we get out of integrity with ourselves. We could almost say that we lose a piece of ourselves in the process of lying.
Some people like to convince themselves that small lies don’t really hurt anyone. But what is the real price of being dishonest? Distance. When we are dishonest with others it is like saying we don’t want to see a part of someone or we don’t want them to see a part of us. It is a judgment that the other person is not strong enough to deal with the reality of things — or that we aren’t, either.
I think it is safe to say we are all sick of hype and distortions of the truth that are in our face every single day. The bottom line is that, no matter what you do for a living, being truthful earns you big points with others. If you tell the truth, people can count on you — not to be sold to — but to help them make the choices they need to make to get what they want.
One of the things that I love about the Greek gods is that they are all incredibly flawed. Zeus was always jealous and (hypocritically) always a cheater. Hera was vengeful. Artemis was impulsive. Poseidon was easily pissed off. Athena lacked compassion. The gods fell far from perfection, but they were worshipped nonetheless. Their power existed because they unapologetically claimed the truth of who they were – flaws, shadowy parts, and all.
When the shadowy parts of who you are — those flawed parts that you try to pretend don’t exist — come flaring up, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to disown them or project them onto someone else. We all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like, that never seem to change at all, and that we can’t imagine learning to love. For example, I can’t spell and I am often late. These are not my favorite traits about myself, but they have proven to be a part of me that I just can’t seem to shake. Years of having them as my steadfast companion have tested me — Do I direct hate or love (or at least acceptance) at this part of myself?
When we are confronted with parts of ourselves that we just do not like, it is helpful to remember that we are multi-faceted people and that our strengths may actually need our weaknesses to be what they are. Who ever came up with the idea we were supposed to be without flaws anyway? Everyone has them (even the gods) and somehow they are still viewed as something that needs to be fixed.
What would happen in your life if you decided it is ok to have your flaws, weaknesses, and shortcomings? Loving and accepting where you are when you start Personal Development work is usually the best way to move forward. After all, today’s starting point was a desired destination at one point in time, whether or not we were conscious of it. And, where you are headed will one day be a place you are eager to leave behind. Life is flux, and we’ve got to learn to ride it.
The best change we achieve comes from a loving unfolding of who we are in the world and a deep appreciation for the truth of who we are, every last bit of it. Those anthropomorphic gods (yes — made in the design of humans) achieved greatness through their strengths and their flaws (and often times their greatest accomplishments were a direct result of their biggest mistakes). Love your light and your shadows. Claim all of yourself. Be your own god or goddess.
In my LifeWork Community program I teach a number of ways that we can more productively work with our true self and bring its expression through our mask and into the world. The following are some of the areas that I address in my program and questions that you can use to support yourself in moving towards living your true self.
People sometimes believe that you do personal development work if you are broken, but that is not really the case. Yes, it is true that hurt people work on themselves to feel better. However, it is also true that the best place to start your work from is a place of total acceptance. When we do our personal development work from a place of more and more appreciation, we gain so much more for our efforts.
What is one thing that you get on your case about that you can start to accept about yourself?
Personal truth can sound like a lofty concept and like it is detached from everyday life, but this does not need to be the case. Our personal truth can be a felt and lived experience. In fact, it is. When we live our personal truth we feel happier, more loving, and more energized. When we step out of integrity we feel less happy, closed, and like we have lower energy.
When do you feel that you are connected to your personal truth? What does it feel like to you?
Forgiveness is a pathway to healing. Healing is a state of harmony and peace. When we hold onto grievances from the past the pain of these events is carried in us and is reflected in the world around us. We continually activate the pains so that they can be healed. The idea is not for us to suffer through life but to become aware that the pain is there so that it can be transformed.
What are you carrying from your past that needs to be let go of? What needs to happen for you to be ready to let it go?
Our most highly attuned state is a creative state. Creativity and its expression are the result of being able to be in the present moment, spontaneous, and positively focused. Creativity is a form of healing and an aspiration of conscious growth. We cannot create without the willingness to see more than what has previously been.
How can you nurture creativity in your life?
People crave a sense of meaning and purpose. Without it, we often feel lost at sea. The trials and tribulations of life are hard to weather because we face them with no sense of what to do with them. We may even end up feeling victimized by life and see ourselves transform into a perpetrator. When we have a sense of meaning we create a pathway through the challenges of life and create a sense of inner peace.
What is most important to you? Why is it most important?
It’s easy to feel disempowered when reading the news, driving down the street, or simply moving through life. We read about the recent terrorist attack in Paris. We get stuck in traffic next to a driver who yells profanely at the person who cut him off. We find out that a family member became sick. And we slowly emotionally withdraw from the world around us.
Throughout our lives, we experience so many negative things that it can seem impossible that our actions could make a positive difference or have a lasting impact on this ever-changing world. We ask ourselves: how can one person change the world – how can I stop hatred, face adversity, and create social equity? When we don’t come up with an answer, we resign ourselves to the “fact” of negativity. We stop ourselves from seeking solution.
The hard truth is, though, that apathy is noxious. Giving up in the face of adversity leaves us feeling like a half a person.
Yet – as many brilliant leaders have shown us – you can’t fight your way to a better world. When we use anger and angst to resolve a problem we only create a new problem or compound the old one.
We need different tools to create the change we desire. These tools are love, truth and compassion. They make up a set of holistic and healing approaches to adversity that transforms the world around us. The best part is that these tools have always been with us.
I believe that the entire world benefits when you choose to build your life with these tools. Bringing love, compassion and truth to each situation you face takes practice, though. And this is why I developed my LifeWork Virtual Program – which offers weekly practices that help you cultivate awareness and develop skills that make your life easier and more rewarding.
These practices are instrumental in creating positive change in the world around us. For this week’s article, I’m going to talk about three of these practices today.
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Buddha
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Jesus Christ
“No man is a true believer unless he desireth for his brother that which he desireth for himself.” Muhammad
While none of these skills are easy, they are all quite simple and in the reach of every single one of us all the time. We don’t need to start a movement or become a politician to have an impact. We only need to focus on being a better person and sharing this with the world.
I will leave you with this quote from Rumi. “Listen with the ears of tolerance. See through the eyes of compassion. Speak with the Language of love.”
The question that I am asking myself lately is, “Are things in my business and life in alignment with my personal truth and vision?”
In other words – Am I being true to myself? Which is a very important question if we are going to walk our talk in our lives and businesses.
There have been a few things that have stood out to me as I do this inventory: community, place, artistry, and commitment. I have been looking at the local food movement, the holistic and integrative care models, community arts, and qualitative research methods.
In general, I have been looking to sharpen my intention around how much healing effect business can have and how much it can improve our quality of life.
I think money is a very important part of business. But if it becomes the most important part of business, maybe that is not for everyone. I am taking a stand for a business model that is not about creating another corporations but creating a lifestyle.
No, sweeping changes but I foresee some fabulous adjustments in the upcoming year. Some of which, you will be seeing sooner rather than later. And the best part about it is that every step I take in this direction the more fabulous things get. I can’t wait to keep updating you as I make this transition through the month of July!