“Be true to yourself” is a phrase that gets used a lot in the realm of personal development these days. “Follow your heart”, “speak your truth”, “be the authentic you” are just a few variations that point in the same direction. But what does that mean exactly?
There have been many books written on this subject, we could ponder it, share perspectives, stories and ideas, we could debate and discuss for days, weeks, months, and perhaps still not come to a conclusion that makes sense for everyone. It is a personal, individual journey, and an understanding of yourself that only you can uncover.
Having said that, I’d like to share with you today one aspect that I see many people struggle with in terms of following their heart, being authentic, and honouring what they deeply would like to experience in their life – finding their voice.
Part of being authentic and following your heart is being brave enough to ask for what you really want, and to talk about what really matters to you. This is something that many people have learned to push down for a vast array of reasons, whether you fear being ridiculed, alienated, cast out, or judged, or whether you want to avoid conflict, believe that you need to keep your mouth shut so that people will like you, or maybe because your ideas, or what you want, seem so radical that you couldn’t possibly share them with others, let alone the world. This is huge.
Here are some key questions that I’d invite you to ask yourself:
Where am I not getting what I really want because I am not asking? (This could be asking others, or asking of yourself).
Where am I not speaking up about what really matters to me?
Where am I not being truthful because I fear conflict or consequences?
What do I fear could happen if I speak up and/or ask for what I want?
What gifts/views/perspectives/wisdom do I have that I am holding back from myself, the people around me, or the world?
Now, just to clarify something around being truthful and authentic – authentic truth is helpful only when spoken from a place of love – not a place of wanting to hurt, abuse, or be righteous. So this doesn’t mean that you start walking around telling everyone what you think of them under the guise of being authentic and truthful. If you are doing it from a place of love and genuinely wanting to serve, then you will find that others are more willing to hear you.
It’s ok to ask for what you want – take a moment to let that sink in – you don’t need permission, you don’t need to wait for the perfect time. It’s ok. Might you get told “no” from time to time – sure, just keep asking. If it’s what you really want, keep asking, keep moving towards it, “no” does not mean “no, never for all of eternity”.
It’s ok to have an opinion – you don’t need permission to speak up, you don’t need to wait until you are asked. What you have to share could very well change a life, or many lives, or your own life. Open your heart and let your voice flow from it, start living your life as the real you.
If this has been a real challenge for you, you can start with small things, test the water, show yourself that it’s safe, and that you didn’t die, and that no one hurt you, and that those who don’t agree actually don’t have to, that’s fine, it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or that you now have to adopt their perspective. This would be a pretty boring world if we all completely agreed on everything.