To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. ~ William Shakespeare
I’ve heard this phrase quoted so many times, but only recently have I really thought about what it really means. What does it really mean to be true to ourselves? It is a question I’ve been pondering recently after watching a few episodes of “If You Really Knew Me” on MTV. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about a challenge program that takes place at various high schools where the goal is to show students that despite their various cliques, they have more in common than they could ever imagine. There is a part in the challenge where students are asked to share things about themselves that their peers couldn’t possibly know – “If you really knew me, you would know…” The revelations are often shocking and heartbreaking. It isn’t surprising when you think high school is probably where most of us really master putting forth an image of what we think people want us to be instead of who we truly are. Our desire to “fit in” and be accepted trumps the desire for many of us create an image for ourselves that is nothing close to who we really are.
From personal experience, I remember from a very young age being told that you didn’t need to express all of your feelings – it’s fine to express joy and happiness, but no one wants to see your sad face or your tears… We learn pretty quickly that if we want to keep the people in our lives happy, there are parts of us that we “must” keep hidden. But what happens to that part of us that we keep locked away? Is it gone, never to be seen again? Again, I can only speak for myself, but I know that those parts I kept “a secret” would manifest themselves without me even meaning or wanting for it to happen! When those parts of us become exposed, those around us are often shocked and occasionally dismayed with the revelation. They wonder “where did that come from?”, and if you’re female, it’s often blamed on hormones and crazy mood swings. We become embarrassed when those parts of us we try to keep hidden are exposed, but why? Why do we try to deny that we have weaknesses, that we aren’t perfect and that regardless of the things that make us different from those around us, we are all inherently the same? When we keep monitoring our personalities and actions to please those around us, it isn’t surprising that there are a number of us who don’t really know who we are at all.
If we don’t know who we really are, then how are we supposed to connect to our truth and find our happiness? We end up looking to those who we are trying to please to give us our happiness “after all the sacrifices” we have made. When others can’t make us happy, we get resentful and angry, believing that we’ve made sacrifices and put ourselves out there and those we love and care about don’t appreciate it. So how do we move beyond this? How do we move our focus from creating ourselves in the image of what we think those around us want to see and find our truth? Wayne Dyer says that “What other people think of me in none of my business. One of the highest places you can get to is being independent of the good opinions of other people.” This is one of those powerful quotes that we should all have somewhere where we see it every day – at home, on the bathroom mirror, or the fridge door; and even at work! When we start to realize that the opinions of others don’t create our reality unless we let them, we are on the way to embracing our truth and discovering our happiness.
The first step is to understand that we are in control of everything that happens to us. If you understand the Law of Attraction, then you know that you attract into your life what you are. If you are not happy with the direction of your life, then you have to take control of your life in order to make the changes you want. We have to stop giving our power away to others. The people in our lives do not control our thoughts or our actions. We always have a choice – we often just aren’t aware of the choices we are making. We are living lives by default rather than making conscious choices about the direction in which we are headed. Once we rediscover our power, we understand that we do not have to look to others for acceptance. We can’t expect others to accept us, when we haven’t been able to do it for ourselves. The second step is to learn how to love yourself. How can you expect others to truly love you if you have not discovered how to love yourself? I’m not talking about conceit or arrogance – I’m talking about loving the good, bad and ugly about yourself. It means learning how to love and honour yourself – expecting only the best for yourself in all ways. Take a moment now and find a mirror and tell yourself “I love you”. If this seems ridiculous, or you can’t look yourself in the eye and do it, keep trying until it is an exercise that makes you feel really good!
When you realize that you are truly in control of your life, and when you can truly love yourself, being true to yourself is an easy feat. You no longer worry about what others think about you, or that people won’t like you if you embrace your truth. Like the Shakespeare quote says, “to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Here’s to your truth!

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Dawes is a Relationship Coach with her own practice - Embrace Your Destiny. The passing of her father inspired a journey of spiritual growth and enlightenment, with many lessons learned that she wants to share with others who have found themselves facing similar challenges. A student of A Course in Miracles, she is also inspired by the teaching of Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, to name a few!