Honesty is the best policy; Confession is good for the soul; the truth will set you free – these homespun proverbs compress profound truths about how to lead happier and healthier lives. The implications are that if we become our authentic selves, express ourselves truly and freely, then we will feel more joyous and let other people into our lives. Currently, many people are engaged in massive cover-ups: who they are, what they want and what they contribute; cosmetic surgery is an example. Its popularity in TV shows like Extreme Makeover and The Swan indicate that a taut mask is preferable to laugh lines, and rivulets of expression. The rippling effect is that many are hiding who they are on the inside by accommodating, trying to fulfill other people’s expectations, obeying other people’s rules and pretending to be…No wonder that most of my workshop participants feel mildly depressed and negative. Conformity and suppression are energy drains.
The other day during the course of my reading I came across a phrase used by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 12 Step Program – fake it until you make it: A seeming contradiction to truthful living, yet ironically, wonderful advice about how to become more authentic. By speaking, dressing, eating, exercising and acting the role of who we wish to become, we will transform ourselves to fulfill that role. By taking an honest inventory of our limitations and capabilities we can develop our capabilities to do better and be better. Our failures need to be truthfully acknowledged because they serve as practice for success. Recognizing that each one of us is a unique work of art in progress provides the necessary confidence to explore, evaluate, grow and change. When we feel comfortable with ourselves, what we say and do without second guessing whether we said the right thing or did a good job, then we have come to an honest acceptance of who we are and the world we live in. That’s a great stress relief! Here are some suggestions to be more honest:
- Begin to express your true opinions on small matters such as the food you eat, the clothes you like and the books you enjoy. Gradually you will express your opinions on larger issues.
- If you make a mistake, don’t blame others. Assume responsibility and try to remedy it.
- Keep on asking questions which will lead to a quest for more honest answers.
- When you are about to reach a decision, what are the signals your body emits? If you don’t feel good, ask yourself what part of your body is involved and why? Trust your gut reaction.
- Whatever you resist will persist. Face your “angels and demons” and make peace with them. You are the control center and have the power of perception. “The mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven.”
- Stop apologizing for who you are and who your children are. For example, if you have a hyperactive, autistic, or retarded child, stop apologizing for him or her.
- If you sense that a family member or friend is having a problem, speak up and offer a suggestion or emotional support.
- Whatever you do, let the true you emerge in your work or play. For this to happen you need a good self-concept- be able to answer this question: what is it that you bring to life’s table- what is your specific contribution? If you don’t know, get started on having an open and honest conversation with yourself!