This ancient advice is at the heart of every sacred belief system known to man. Knowing thyself – self-truth. This is the basis, the deep-rooted foundation of living an authentic life.
So, the first agreement must be this: know your own mind. Know your own heart. Know the content of your soul.
It’s a simple and profound truth: accept yourself.
And yet, how many people do you know that lead lives of self-delusion? Or, they’re stuck in jobsmarriagesrelationshipslives they don’t love? Maybe you’re in that space, too? Lord knows I’ve been there. In fact, I think most move in and out of authentic living. We’re constantly searching, seeking, surviving. Maybe we get caught up in other people’s dreams for our lives. Parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, friends, pastors, gurus…a lot of people thin they know what and how our lives should be. I’ve been there, too. We all have.
I can think of two profound times when I said “yes” and “I do” when I should never have uttered those words. In fact, I recall knowing that those decisions were completely wrong for me…and yet I went ahead anyway. In both scenarios I was ripping off others and myself. I was never “all-in”. I did a good job of making the most of both situations, but there was a lack of integrity at the core – and neither lasted. Both were based on “should”.
I should want this job. I should want this relationship…
Second agreement: There are no shoulds in an authentic life.
Survival is fraught with the word should. We do things because we think that’s our only choice. We get stuck in a job we hate because the rent has got to be paid. We stay in bad marriages because we don’t want to be lonely or give up security or we’ll hurt the kids, or whatever the excuse is. Those are big things, but survival is dripping with myriad small situations in which we don’t tell the truth in order to simply get along. The little lies mount and gather a kind of heavy gravity that pulls our souls into the basement. Pretty soon we’re stuck down there with all the ghosts of lives we never led.
It takes courage to say “no” to survival, and “yes” to an authentic life. It takes courage to leave your job to start a business. It takes monumental courage to transform a marriage. It even takes courage to say “no” to hanging out with relatives you don’t really want to be around during the holidays. It takes courage to say “yes” to carving out 20 minutes a day to meditate, write or do something you enjoy – especially when you have a husband/wife/SO/kids clamoring for the undivided attention you normally provide at their demand. It takes courage to upset the apple cart.
Third rule: Authenticity requires saying “no” to survival and “yes” to life.
This is a start. Maybe I’m going down the wrong track here, but it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong. Next post I’ll go deeper into this. I think the surface has only been scratched.