How often do you feel that a friend, colleague,
or a spouse reveals their true self to you?
The real person? Maybe you get
glimpses at times when you think someone’s actions represent who they actually
are. I wager that you have lots of beliefs about yourself and other
people. You use these beliefs to indicate why people act in a certain way. If
someone yells at you, you may forgive them because you know their life
isn’t going so well. Or, you mistrust them because you feel they are angry
about something you have done. Or, you might even think that their true
self reflects their anger about everything, and you should have no contact with
them. Accordingly, there are times when you believe that a person’s actions
reflect the situation they are in or their current mental state.
I have trouble discerning the true self of
others. This is an area that is part of
the “I don’t know” category for me most of the time. There are plenty of times when I first meet
someone that I decide we don’t connect, we are not on the same page, and I don’t
spot anything about them that I like.
There are times when I decide to dislike someone before I meet them. Then after a time, I grow to like them. I
need the willingness to give them and me a period of adjustment, a pause if you
possess a host of qualities that are similar, but it is their unique
combination that creates the individual and their singular true self. Mystics are not the only ones that can be in
touch with their true self. Most believe that the true self is moral and good.
It is the notion that everyone is born with instincts that differentiate the
good from the evil. So, when people make
changes in their behavior, we are more inclined to believe it reflects their
true self when they change from doing something bad to something good than vice
versa. When someone has been self-serving for a long period, but realizes
that serving others is the better course, we believe they have gotten in touch
with their true self.
We all have gifts that guide the true self: a
zest for life; a rational way of thinking; a certain amount of creativity;
freedom from the bonds of self; gut feelings that are based on proper
discernment of right and wrong; a spiritual path; and the ability to love and
be loved. Our nature is determined by our usage of these gifts. Your choice and
my choice can be to allow these gifts to grow and prosper; to engage in actions
that feed, protect and care for them. Or, we can allow them to lie fallow. It is amazing that these qualities often
remain dormant and we function below our potential as a human being. But our
gifts remain, simply waiting for an awakening.
Do I want a life filled with meaningful
opportunities or do I want to be left with an unfulfilled yearning for
something better? The choice seems
obvious, so why do so many choose the latter path?
I once was a partner in a firm that was
incredibly profitable and prosperous. We
didn’t know why that was the case. Some
believed we had the uncanny ability to find good people in all the towns and
cities where we had offices. Some
thought it was the vibrant southeastern marketplace which was our home. Others
of our more egocentric brethren wondered if our abilities might be greater that
we assumed. Many believed in luck—we
were just uncommonly lucky. Once or twice,
it was suggested that we do a thorough review of our business to find the
elements of our success. Our executive
committee, of which I was part, voted 5-0 in the negative. We were afraid of
what me might find or we would change our luck if that turned out to be the
Why do folks allow
their gifts to remain hidden and unused? FEAR most of the time. We are afraid
of what we might find. Fear is a dominant emotion for a good may folks. Other
common emotions include surprise, happiness, joy, sadness and anger. Do you
feel open and willing to express all of your emotions with zeal during your
daily activities? Or do you fear what others might think of you? What if I told
you that other’s thoughts about you are none of your business?
I wanted to know how
my emotions were dominating my life and how the chaos (my executive committee–squirrels)
going on in my head was ruining my life.
I read about Thomas Merton and his struggles to find his true self. I
wondered if a true self existed for me. I talked to priests and ministers, psychologists,
smart women, smart men, and I read Emmett Fox, Carl Jung, William James, and
the COURSE in Miracles. Finally, I
looked at me. I could not go forward without knowing who I was and what I was. I had to look at people who angered or
damaged me, at businesses and relationships that had deprived me of my just
rewards, and at what scared me.
As you probably
surmise, this accounting did not go in my favor. I had harmed far more people
than had harmed me, mostly those for whom I expressed love and affection. The
failure of my business and the anticipated membership on the New York Exchange (life-long
dream) was of my own making. And fears centered on my inability to acknowledge
mistakes and learn from failure. My outsized ego and my sense of self
importance created anger that would not go away. It blocked joy and happiness and my
relationship with God.
my way of thinking began to change. My understanding of life and
progress through it were inhibited by my usage of certain emotions and my blockage
of others. I could easily access fear,
anger, and sadness in the extreme. But happiness and joy were absent. And I
hated to be surprised. I had to make different choices and I needed help to do
realized that I wasn’t connected to the Source. I wanted the power to transform
my life and found that empowerment by connecting to God via a spiritual path.
Centering prayer, solitude and silence were critical. I made a pilgrimage to
the Abbey of Gethsemane, was silent for five days, went to services three times
a day, and walked in Merton’s shoes. I
reshaped myself and my life. I began to take risks and embrace new
possibilities. I was generating
happiness and joy from within rather than accepting external formulations of
it. I freed my self from my self and made my relationship with God central to
occur in life over which we have no control. Many will attribute these
things to fate, randomness, nature, physical reality, or coincidence. There are
no coincidences. It is the Spirit that provides the answers for us in all
things. We find the Spirit when we discover and actively engage our True
is the highest human function and where we put our True Self to its greatest
use. St Francis tells us that it is better to love
than be loved That would deny
the intrinsic social nature that humans have to be loved and love another. By
trusting another to know one’s own self through their eyes, we free our self to
union–to love and be loved. Loving connections convey the ultimate
expression of our True self.