An article I read about interviews taken with those at the end of their lives mentioned that people didn’t want more money, sex or power. They wanted to reconnect with friends lost, to be more expressive with their feelings, and to live true to themselves and their values. It takes perspective like that to reflect back to us a poweful sentiment: life is short, and our choices and decisions are precious and numbered.
Being true to oneself first is the origin of so many other decisions in life. One could say that most of life falls back on being true to oneself: choosing a mate, developing hobbies or avocations, picking a career track, and carving out routes to happiness.
The problem is, so many of our decisions are guided by others’ wants of us, by our own fear or by other factors that dictate our decision making other than our own.
We come into the world taking ritual guidance from our parents and caregivers, teachers, religious teachers and peers. Sometimes, in the process, we lose touch with our own inner wisdom and the voice inside of ourselves that truly knows what we want from life. The channel between that us and that voice gets clogged.
Fear also can be crushing to our inner voice. Consciously or unconsciously, we let fear rule our lives, and dictate what decisions we make. Maybe we’re too afraid to get out of a bad relationship for fear of hurting the other person or harming our children. Or, maybe we’re afraid that we could actually succeed working for ourselves, instead of someone else. Maybe past traumas we haven’t worked through hold us back in invisible chains, not able to go forward with our dreams and goals.
Being true to oneself means developing the courage to break through those belief systems and develop our own set of rules. It’s being an iconoclast to the indoctrination we’ve received in our lives, and challenging what exactly is good for us. What’s good for us may not be good for others, including wives, children, parents, employers, friends, etc. But, if we live life on our terms, we forge ahead with our own happiness. I’m not suggesting to be careless or destructive to others in the process. Blind narcissism isn’t a good thing. But, I think these things can be achieved with minimal harm to others. If living life on one’s own terms means ending a relationship, then, yes, it may negatively affect one’s spouse or children, but so can fear and stagnation.
We only have a short time on Earth. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but we do. If we don’t author our own life and decisions, someone or something else will. Do you want fear or other’s desires to drive your truth? They will if we don’t take the reigns first and decide that we want happiness on our own terms, even if that goes against the wished of others. And, we have to commit to the courage and faith that we can identify those barriers or issues that impede our way to being true to ourselves, and work on them diligently.