Most of us, I think, could get a lot closer to our authentic selves. To achieve this, we might want to start with a "mental cleanse," says life coach and author, Martha Beck. This, of course, doesn't mean that you should tell your boss how much you hate your job, or that you should refuse to ever help anyone. What it does mean is telling yourself the truth...the WHOLE truth. So don't be tempted to make it yet "another little white lie." If you really hate your sister's meatloaf, or think your neighbor's children aren't really "so adorable and well-behaved" admit the truth to yourself. Don't worry, you don't have to reveal your answers to anyone until you're ready. As Ms. Beck puts it, the path to integrity turns inward before it leads outward. If this message speaks to you,
Beck suggests grabbing a timer, a piece of paper, and a pencil. But chose paper (or a journal) you like and your favorite pen...these items you give some small sense of pleasure. As you pick up, or even think about these item, pay close attention to how they make you feel. Noticing your reaction to them is the first part of the exercise. Part two of this work is to set a timer to go off the moment you can set aside whatever you're doing...30 minutes or a couple of hours. Then write on you paper or notebook (journal, etc) "Am I living my deepest truth right now." Then go about your business until your timer alarm goes off.
Open your paper/notebook and reread the sentence you wrote and take a deep breath. Wait for the answer to come to you. Whatever you were doing, whomever you were with, wherever you were...do those choices feel perfectly honest? If you can't answer them, don't worry. Just asking, and being open to waiting for the answer is enough; it will come to you. According to Ms. Beck, The truth isn't something you think up; it's something that arises from deep within." She cautions, too, that the quick anxious responses form your mind differ from the peaceful knowing that springs forth from your center.
This is an exercise you may need (and want) to do a few times. The first few tries may bring nothing at all, Or they may bring a wisp of sadness at the loss of something you can't quite put your finger on. Then ask yourself, "What could this sensation be trying to tell me?" If no answer appears, don't sweat it. Just write on your paper or in your journal, "I don't know." Then set the timer again and repeat. Your answers may be slow in coming so be gently with yourself and don't give up.
When the truth does come up, it may be a simple yes or no. But often, you'll be flooded with realizations; I don't want to tell my mother no for fear of losing her respect. Or my dad wanted me to become a pharmacist, so I did, but I hate math and science....I'm an artist. And, perhaps, my job requires me to spend a great deal of time inside and I love being outdoor. Whatever comes up, write it down. If you're in pure authenticity, you'll write about the joy you feel. But if you've been lying to yourself, a lot as most of us do, then write about the misery and anger.
As Ms. Beck says, "An honest day is a hero's saga" and explains that with each honest check-in you take one small, and sometimes one large, step closer to becoming our authentic self. This will be life-altering; obligations may become unbearable and unwanted relationships will wither away...but new and better ones will blossom in their place.
The more honest you are with yourself, the more you'll find yourself doing the things that you love to do and spending time with the people you truly care for.
"Nothing really true is ever unloving, and nothing really unloving is ever true." Thank you Ms. Beck for this pearl of wisdom. And that comes from my authentic self.