Friday, September 24, 2010

To Thine Own Self be True


You can read up on Seeking and Living our own "Truth" here and Am I living my own truth? here; this series stemmed from this quote from twitter friend @SarahEOlsen2009 and her recent post...

"Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it." ~ Andre Gide

Sometimes we can get caught up in living the truth of another - someone who firmly believes that they have found "the truth"...the "way" and "THE light".

The thing is that sometimes those of us who come from backgrounds where we may have been discouraged from developing a clear sense of "self" we can easily find ourselves living the truth of someone else without even knowing it simply because we have never had the experiences of knowing what our own truth was. We may then find ourselves defending someone else's "truth" when we have adopted it as our own, closing off any opportunity to even discover what our own truth really is.

I'd left this note on the post Am I living my own truth in response to a readers comment:

"This post stemmed from the understanding I've found as I struggled with making that shift from dependence on others to define and guide my life to learning to be that independent and autonomous human being that I'd always heard about - but had no idea what that "looked liked"."

And I've found that imbalance doesn’t take place in only “domestic” or intimate relationships but also can occur in other venues and relationships from the neighbor next door to our local church as well as our health care.

For anyone who comes from a background where independence and development of a clear sense of self was discouraged rather than encouraged, where we were devalued or invalidated rather than held in high esteem and encouraged to become our best – we can find ourselves vulnerable as we turn to our intimate or even our professional relationships to be “taken care of”.

Sometimes in relationships where we find that we have been enmeshed in living the truth of another, there may be some resistance as we attempt to search for and learn to create and live that of our own truth.

Sometimes this resistance to our creating positive change in our lives may include reminding us that we “need” them, that we “can’t do it without them” or “after all I’ve done for you….”.
Any relationship that attempts to make us feel guilty or shame us into compliance is often a relationship that needs us to not grow, change or seek our own truth because to do so invalidates their truth and belief that their truth is the one and only truth.

Understanding that we have done nothing wrong is vital to being able to break free of the control or influence of those who for some reason resist or discourage our finding our own way and truth.

The solution is not to try to change others or convince them to accept me in my journey of seeking my own truth, but to seek my own truth through seeking the knowledge that would enable me to use wisdom to set personal boundaries and choose supportive relationships that value my personal journey to discover, create and live my own best life.

To be “true to yourself” is to live our own truth and we can find this truth by looking within ourselves instead of searching for it in others.

We can check to see if we are living our own truth vs that of another by asking ourselves one key question:

Does this relationship leave me feeling encouraged or discouraged?

To Thine own Self be true. ~ Shakespeare

Seek knowledge. Find Wisdom. Live your Truth. ~Susan:)


Darlene Ouimet said...

Hi Susan,
Your question at the end, "does this relationship leave me feeling encouraged or discouraged?" that is powerful! I had to learn to ask myself that question about so many things in recovery, but I didn't think about it in regards relationships for a long time. I had so many old beleifs about olbigation in relationship that I had to realize them before I could consider that question. And it is a scary question to consider; if the answer is that the relationship leaves me feeling discouraged, then I can't help but think about what I am going to do about it..and this was a big part of my work in recovery. I don't have many relationships anymore that I find more then occasionaly discouraging... =) and cleaning that up was scary but very self validating and loving and healthy for me to do!!
Hugs, Great Post!

Unknown said...

I am so smiling right now Darlene! I had intended to edit this post, add some bullet points and trim it down and publish it tomorrow:) But - here we are and it's gone out to the readers of A Journey so here we will leave it as is:)

And same for me in my relationships Darlene. I completely believed that what I did or said influenced my worth and value in these relationships until I understood that these relationships were fueling that sense of self doubt. I questioned the very validity of my existence.

In the beginning of this journey of self discovery - I didn't have an understanding that I could actually do anything about the relationships that left me feeling discouraged. I didn't understand that I could choose or not choose relationships, or that I even had a right to not feel bad.

My belief was that whatever another said to me was "truth" and if the relationship wasn't working then I was doing something to make it not work and therefore I had to stay committed to doing what I could to "fix" it.

And in hindsight - this one question is what guides my relationships today and I know that I don't have to shape myself to anothers truth in order to validate myself but that I have the power to choose and create my own truth that I am not the cause of someone treating me badly nor can I make them change.

What I can do is let them have their truth and begin to embrace my own.

@bapesaurus said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I'm really enjoying it, but I was getting confused with the series on truth for self. I was actually quite concerned with why and how I just didn't get it. However, this post just makes it all make sense. I'm starting to realise that I have no idea what normal is - but then I have no idea how to get it. How do you learn about normal without taking on someone else's truth?? I just didn't get it but this blog really gave a grounding for where to start. I began my own journey thinking it would be a short one - clearly I'm in for more than I thought. It's a little bit disillusioning to think that I have no idea what it is to be true to myself. I'm an academic and can spout out all the appropriate 'should bes' but I really have NO idea how to live it.

Thanks for this.



Unknown said...

@bapesaurus - you asked: "How do you learn about normal without taking on someone else's truth??"

And that was the conundrum for me as well...

The key that I've found is to first understand where I"m at, where I want to be then finally how I was going to get from "here" to "there".

The secret that I've found is to listen and take what applies today to my journey and work on it through developing self awareness. When I'm ready for the next "lesson", life will bring it to me:)

Becoming a seeker of my own truth was the beginning of the journey.

I know this may sound vague and unclear right now...and in time as we seek, the path becomes clearer and slowly we begin to see that we have made that shift from trying to model the truth of another to living our own truth.

Does any of that make any sense for you?

@bapesaurus said...

Indeed, it does make sense. I've never really thought about where I'll be or what I wanted from life. I had a proper little list of goals every 'girl good' was supposed to have but it was devastating to realise that all these things were defined in terms of someone else's success. IE 'Perhaps I'll do a PhD myself if we end up living in a city with a good program once husband is established'. I just about fell off the couch in a marriage counselling session when the therapist asked me what would happen in husband moved for me. All I could think was 'why would he want to?' hmmmm....this trying to live my own truth is really hard when all my definitions and defaults go to other people - because that's what I've been told I ought to do. I was okay with all this until I was in need. I always thought that my friends and family would be there for me if I REALLY needed them, that even though they mistreated me, it was just because they needed me more than I needed them. I was strong and needed to suck it up to be a good friend. But then it happened, a trauma, and it was just too inconvenient for everyone. I was told I was dramatic, just for crying. All I wanted was have someone listen, but no one had the time. Then I was told to get over it. And then I told myself to get over it. The real shame in all this is how I treated myself - and continue to.

So, yes, this makes sense, but in a way that is more confusing than I ever could have imagined. After reading your blog this morning all I could think was: 'I have no truth'. I know what I stand for in how I treat other people but when it comes to personal boundaries to protect myself, well, that takes a knowledge of self, now doesn't it?

Much thinking to do....


Unknown said...

@bapesaurus - I think it is a bit of an awakening when we realize that we have lived a life based on what we thought we were "supposed" to do vs what we really wanted for ourselves.

I think my own "awakening" may have been similar to the surprise you describe:)

I'm terribly sorry that you were not validated in your time of need. Your experience and pain of that time were so valid and even though those around could not sit with your pain - it was and is very real and very valid. I'm sad that you had this experience.

In hindsight - I found that I was living my truth very often but when it was denied by those around me, it was really hard to see it.

Thank you for sharing some of your story and truth here with us today:).

Anonymous said...

Really inspiring stuff as always Susan that resonates with me particularly at the moment as I weigh up what is my own truth against 'The Truth' as others see it.

It is a balance and it is definitely worth keeping Shakespeare in mind as you go through things.

"To thine own self be true" - I can draw strength and solidarity from that a lot more than being presented absolutes that don't allow for any self-discovery and undermine attempts to live your own life and make your own way.

Thanks for the inspiration! Hope you're well and take care of yourself. James :)

Unknown said...

""To thine own self be true" - I can draw strength and solidarity from that a lot more than being presented absolutes that don't allow for any self-discovery and undermine attempts to live your own life and make your own way."

James - you have no idea how that statement resonates with me. It is so easy for those who have not been allowed to develop a healthy "self" to be influenced by others who are serving their own best interest THROUGH shaping the truth of others.

Thanks always for your comments and your friendship James:) You have much wisdom in your words!

Melissa Lynn Shell said...

good post! It is hard to find your own identity when you have spent most of your life wrapped up in other's and also gaining your own "self worth" from others.

I have found that once I "discovered" who I am and am true to myself, and people in my life got used to me being a separate individual then they were, our relationships became stronger, happier, and much healthier.

What I do see happening sometimes, and I always keep this in my mind, is that some people who have newly discovered their own truth, get so excited by it, that they sometimes exert their own pressure on others to accept it as their own.

I do not think it is anything meant to be intentional or harmful on their part. I think it is born out of the excitement of knowing their own truth for the first time in their lives.

I think it behooves any of us who are active in a community where there are many hurting, hopeless, people that we learn to walk the fine line of sharing the truth that worked for us, while directing people to finding their own truth.

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this post!

Congratulations on finding and living your own truth and the solutions that worked for you and your life! It's always good to hear how others have found what works for them!