February 12, 2013

To Thine Own Self Be True

Good Heavens! Now I’m quoting Shakespeare. But this line has been rattling around in my head for at least a week, and it’s time to heed my muse and explore this deep thought.

My experience with Shakespeare is limited to performing in “Kiss Me Kate” in high school. This play is a modern take on “The Taming of the Shrew”. Though none of this has any bearing on today’s post, I thought you might like to know that I am not well versed in the Bard’s long-winded speeches.

However, from Polonius to his son Laertes (Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3)

    “This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst be false to any man.”

So, what does this mean to us? We are faced with myriad choices every day. We have a favorite quote for our teenagers, “Life is full of choices.” But surely, it applies to every day of our adult lives, too.

To be true to oneself, one must first search deeply within to know what we need. Perhaps that’s why it’s taken me a week to work through my thoughts on this verse. How often do I listen to my head and not my heart? Too often, I'm sure.

And how often do I choose not to listen at all, and go with my own free will?

That’s usually what gets me in trouble - with myself. My heart is the best guide for what is right for my life, and my brain guides me in making the right choices. 

But trusting my gut in situations where intuition is necessary serves me well. For the last couple of years, I have been focusing on listening to that small voice that guides me in my daily life.

It all began when the hammock broke.

One fall day, I lay swaying to and fro in my rope hammock, watching the tree branches sway above me. For some reason the back of my head was uncomfortable, and I kept hearing this thought that I should get a pillow.

I ignored my intuition, knowing soon I would go in the house to check on the cake that was baking in the oven for my son’s birthday. But the thought kept nagging me, “Get a pillow”.

Interestingly, my husband came out to where I was swinging and said, "Don't you want a pillow?" I said no, I'd get one in a minute. He turned to go back into the house, and no sooner did he leave then SNAP! The rope holding the head of hammock broke, and I crashed to the ground, landing mostly on the back of my head. (See where a pillow would have been helpful?)

Now this may seem like coincidence, but to me it was a wake-up call. Luckily, I was not badly hurt. But something deep inside of me awoke to the realization that I had not been living through listening to my inner voice. Since then, I have relied more on my intuitive thoughts to guide me in everyday decisions. Truthfully, this process has served me well.

I think this is the basis of being true to one’s self. In order to provide what we need through honoring our inner selves, we need to regularly check in with our gut feeling and listen to our inner voice to make sure we are staying on track.
Photo Courtesy Best Light Photography

We are challenged every day by receiving so much stimuli. We need to take time to be still, and focus on our intuition within. Quiet the mind, and let your higher self speak.

We may think our brains are the most highly advanced organs in our body, but our spirit inside, our intuition and our gut feeling are there to help protect us from danger. Learn to trust your inner guidance. 

By doing so, you will find that you are following the path that honors your integrity “To thine own self be true.” Live your life by being true to yourself, and you will find a pathway to knowing inner peace.


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