Being true to oneself is a skill. It might even be the single most important skill we can acquire. For many of us, the closest we’ve come to being true to ourselves happened during infancy. (We cried when we felt like crying, laughed when we needed to laugh, slept when we became tired. Somewhere along the way we taught ourselves to ignore our wants and needs. (We studied subjects we didn’t care to learn, we held our tongues when we wanted to be heard and we held jobs that we didn’t want to have.) Over time these actions taught us how to master denying ourselves the yearning of our authentic self.
To be true to yourself, you must know yourself. That is an ongoing process without end. We never really complete the task; we just get better at it. Many of us avoid getting to know ourselves because knowing involves uncertainty, and uncertainty is uncomfortable. It’s so much easier to mold personal myths about ourselves that we can cling to in order to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty. “I am such and such a person”, we tell ourselves — even though we do not act that way, or at least haven’t acted that way in years.
There are many ways to learn about oneself, but perhaps the best way is to watch what one does as objectively as one would watch someone else’s child at play. That requires considerable skill because it is not at all easy to dispassionately watch ourselves. Yet, that might well be the best way to learn about oneself.
Give it a try because it’s impossible to be genuinely happy in this life without being true to oneself.
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