Imagine an old friend starts calling you by the wrong name. At first you’re puzzled, thinking it was a slip of the tongue. But then it happens again. Confused, you correct him:
“Um, you mean Katie.”
“Right – Nancy,” he replies. You are no longer just confused, you’re getting really annoyed. Then it gets worse. He turns around and introduces you to someone by this wrong name. You look at him incredulously as you quickly correct him, “No, I’m Kat-”
“She’s Nancy, don’t listen to her,” your friend interrupts, and laughs it off as if you were talking silly talk. And every time you try to speak up for yourself he interrupts you, shoots you down, or downright ignores you.
How would you feel in this situation? Likely angry, alienated and offended. What would you do? Perhaps raise your voice in an effort to make yourself be heard. Or, maybe you’d tune out and stop engaging in the conversation altogether. Or maybe still, you’d turn around and walk out, thinking “eff this, I’m outta here!”
This is what we do to ourselves when we refuse to acknowledge and accept the truth of who we are. Part of us gets ignored, unseen, forgotten.
If we wouldn’t tolerate that treatment coming from an old friend, why should we tolerate it from ourselves? When we pretend we’re something we’re not, we are blatantly disrespecting and devaluing ourselves. Sometimes we may even ignore the distress signals our body gives us as it shouts out to be seen and heard, and these signals often manifest into physical symptoms.
Our essence may get so frustrated from neglect that it simply decides to give up and check out. At that point, we may feel like we’ve completely lost touch with who we are. Listless, tiered, and apathetic, we roll through our days trying to fulfill this idea of what we pretend to be. Meanwhile, we may be suffering from physical disease, and there may be a faint feeling of loneliness creeping in the background.
If you hurt a good friend, how would you mend the relationship? First, you’d ask for forgiveness. You’d reach out humbly from the heart, acknowledging her hurt feelings and apologize. You’d establish that you respect and value all of who she is. You may even listen quietly as she vents her feelings to you, and they may be uncomfortable to hear. But you listen all the same, since a healthy relationship relies on honest, open communication. That’s what makes it a relationship and not a dictatorship. Once you regain each other’s trust and reestablish that open channel of communication, you’ll be sure to be more attentive to her preferences and needs going forward. This bump in the relationship allowed you to learn more fully what those preferences and needs are. The relationship is now stronger with this healing.
Relating to ourselves works in the same way. If we get the signal that something is amiss, we first call in gentleness and lovingly acknowledge that something needs our attention. Listen closely to what you really need in order to rebalance the relationship. Whatever the issue, forgive yourself for it and focus on what can be done to remedy it. Are there actions do you need to take to properly express or care for yourself? What things/people/thought patterns/beliefs do you need to let go of, and what do you need to call in? Are there deeper themes of core truths that are trying to be revealed?
In lieu of having conversations out loud with myself, I like to journal my stream of consciousness to uncover the truth that requires attention. Sometimes, simply acknowledging the truth is enough. Just “being seen” is powerful on its own; we don’t always need to “do” something about what is revealed. Other times, a realization may mean the time is ripe for decisive action.
I’ve been learning how to acknowledge my truth for years, and am still working on it. For a long time, ignoring foundational truths about myself caused digestion and stress issues. And realizing them were life-changing: You are a free-spirited, creative being! And it is OK! It is OK to embrace what you desire! You actually know what is best for you! (Some of these truths were more basic, universal ones.) Or, Florida is killing you, so move out!
Now that I’ve worked on listening to myself and keeping this communication channel open, truths grab my attention regularly as road-signs for moving through my world: You want to sing! You want to dance! That is the frantic energy you feel right now. You can’t go a whole day without moving your body, so I’m going to teach you by making you feel lethargic next time you do. And let me show you how highly sensitive to energy you are by making you feel claustrophobic on the muni home today. Uncomfortable, right? That’s my way of telling you that you need to make more space for alone time and energy work!
I may not act upon every tug at my sleeve, but I have come a long way from blatantly ignoring or criticizing my truth. I find that life is easier this way. Acceptance allows for a path of least resistance in day-to-day living. Each new truth adds texture to the ever-evolving tapestry of “self” that hangs from our consciousness.