“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson, ‘A Return to Love‘
When I was growing up, I was raised in an environment where everyone around me adopted a certain belief system. School, religion, social norms, and the media all encouraged a certain view of life, ‘reality’ and of ourselves.
As children, adolescents and young adults, we were cast in moulds and expected to conform (‘Live your truth,’ was not an instruction I ever received from my elders or peers!).
Yet, all the while, I somehow felt ‘different’. I think it is something that we all go through in life, even if many of us don’t actually talk about it.
I did my best to fit in and play along… but did a dismal job of it for the most part. And much of my childhood and early teen years were spent in isolation – through choice. I preferred the worlds I discovered within my books to ‘real’ life.
Then, in my late teens, I felt like life was passing me by, and so I decided to play the game. I bought into the belief system and invested my time, my effort and myself in it. As I got older, I became more and more like the person I was expected to be… and slowly began attracting the perception and trappings of ‘success’.
In retrospect, it seems as if the period from my late teens into my mid-thirties was spent living some cookie-cutter version of life – based on conformity and narrow possibilities. I still made the choices and was seen to be in control of my life and who I was, but those choices were like voting-choices at elections – you get to choose from options that have already been prepared for you – vote for Party A or for Party B. If neither of them fit your beliefs, then tough – just be grateful that you get to vote!
Then, I moved to the UK and everything changed.
Having made the move and having settled into what seemed an ideal life – being married to the girl of my dreams, setting up our own home together and establishing a small but thriving legal practice, something happened. I wanted to make sense of life and so I started asking questions that no self-respecting conformist would. And I wasn’t liking the answers.
I won’t go into detail about these things in this post, but you can read a little more about what happened here: My Story.
It is sufficient to say that I no longer wanted the cookie-cutter life and I was waking up to who I really was – The slightly ‘grown-up’ version of the child who lived to read; the person who believed in the magic and mystery of life; the person who dreamed of love, peace, happiness and abundance for all people; the person who wanted to spend his days doing what he loved; the person who just wanted to laugh and play. Needless to say, this didn’t fit in well with the life that I had carved out for myself and so changes had to be made. It was scary and I did get some grief for it, but it was totally worth it!
So what have I learned from it all? And what does ‘live your truth’ mean to me? It means that your life on the outside fully reflects and is congruent with how you feel on the inside (note – not how you think but how you feel on the inside).
The truth of who you are doesn’t mean the circumstances into which you were born, or even where you find yourself now.
The truth of who you are is where you feel called to go. It is what you want to become. This may be something that changes and evolves as you grow, but only you can know this and no one else should decide on it for you.
You are the only person who truly knows who you really are.
I have found through my own experience that it is better to be who I really am and be alone than to be surrounded by a thousand people who approve of what they think I should be. You can choose who to be around and when to be around them, but you can never get away from yourself. So I feel it is better to be happy and at peace with myself, rather than compromise that for the sake of acceptance and approval from others.
For some of us, living our truth means making big changes in life. It might seem scary. The good news is that the fear is definitely worth the sense of freedom and satisfaction that become yours if you are willing to face that fear.
Life always takes care of us and in the end, the fear becomes more about the opinions and reactions of others than about anything of real consequence – or so it has been in my experience.
In the end, it is easier if you don’t expect others to understand your life choices or to approve of them. Many won’t be able to appreciate your perspective and to be fair, they can’t – because they have not lived your life. Some people may be willing to see past what have now become your ‘differences’ and respect your decisions. Some will simply fall away and there is nothing for it but to thank them for the part they have played in your life up to that point and release them with love.
There is a silver lining to all of this – in my humble opinion it is more like a big blooming silver cloud – there will be new people who fully understand and embrace the you that you have become. They will love you for who you are (It is likely that they have been on similar journeys themselves).
Whatever happens with others, the inescapable fact is that the truth of who you really are is where your true power and happiness lie.
And something I have just begun to realise is that living your truth is not only a case of changing your life on the outside to fit who you feel you are on the inside. That might seem like where the bulk of the ‘work’ is to be done – but the biggest changes are the ones that you make from within… the changes where you go beyond your conditioned beliefs and catch up with the real, authentic child of God (or Source or Universe) that you are. For example, I strongly feel that the ‘real’ me is someone who is loving and compassionate and accepting of all… that the real ‘me’ is capable of practising unconditional love for others… but I still get mad at people, I still raise my voice in anger and say hurtful things… yet, I feel that this is not the real ‘me’ but patterns of thought and behaviour that I have chosen to adopt and identify with. I know this to be true, because I always feel bad when I hurt other people and I always feel good when I am loving towards them. So for me, there is much more work to be done and that is a good thing – I have more ‘becoming’ to look forward to : )
I use the term ‘work’ to describe the process, but it has actually been the most rewarding, satisfying and liberating of all the endeavours I have ever undertaken.
As for success… it has come to mean happiness now more than anything else. But I couldn’t end this post without making it absolutely clear that living your truth in no way means giving up on your dreams and ambitions. Quite the opposite – I now have bigger and outrageously more ambitious dreams than ever before! And the really great thing is that I feel like they are practically a done deal, because now everything hinges on me and how I feel. No one else is in control. No system. No other judge or critic. Nothing. Only I can do the best job of being the real, true me and there is a huge feeling of power that comes from knowing that.
I encourage you now to go home to your truth and live from there.