Ophelia’s art poster: http://www.zazzle.com/to_thine_own_self_be_true_poster-228306749335934814
Yesterday I watched an online discussion between Martha Beck and Oprah, following Oprah’s life class entitled “The Truth Will Set You Free”. This of course was of interest to me as my life’s work is centered in this issue.
Martha Beck had a spiritual experience while undergoing a surgery, and it changed they way she lived. She had been touched by a divine love, and the only way she could come close to experiencing that feeling again was to live in absolute truth. The alternative became too painful. She could no longer say yes when she meant no, or do work she didn’t believe in, or be in a relationship based on false selves.
This was the part of the conversation that riveted me. She said that if you are in a relationship in which you can not truly be yourself- meaning you can’t say what you really think or feel for fear of the other person rejecting you- then you are presenting a “false self” to the relationship, and therefore it is a “false relationship”. I could instantly flash on several relationships in my life past and present that fit that bill. And it made me wonder…If I’m not being myself so I won’t lose the relationship, but it’s a false relationship, then what am I really losing?
I can recall countless work or family functions I’ve attended where everyone forces a smile while simmering with resentment underneath. Or times I’ve said yes when I really meant no. And this is what I think shame really is. It’s when your actions are not in alignment with your heart. Shame is born in the moment that you betray yourself.
And yet most of us live this way.
So why do we do this? Why would we ever live a life that is not true? Why do we betray ourselves? Why do we say one thing and do another?
What do we gain by living this way? And more importantly, what do we lose?

You May Also Like…

The Sound

The sound of motorcycles revving in the driveway meant that Uncle Dan was home, and with him came the...

Read More

Writing About Family: Truth and Consequences

   Storytelling has existed since the beginning of humankind. Our stories are the connective tissue that...

Read More

Things Just Got Real…

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.ADVANCE READER COPIES JUST ARRIVED. Troy asked me, "How do you feel?" Hmmm...How do I feel?...

Read More


  1. Michael Ann

    Wow. Good questions. Why DO we do this? It must be a protective mechanism. Don't you think most of our habits are created early on to protect ourselves. Somewhere along the line we had an experience, or many experiences, where it wasn't safe to be ourselves. To be authentic.

    As adults, we so not have to think as we did as a child, but we are often so conditioned, it's a hard habit to break. I think it takes a real genuine effort to change. Or a life experience like Martha's.

  2. Debra DeAngelo

    We do this because…. we believe other people's comments and opinions about who we are and what we SHOULD be, and what we aren't, and how we could do better to live up to their expectations. I will say one thing about midlife – it gets much easier to blow these folks off and walk away.

    And…. we need silent, quiet time to get to know ourselves. You have to get comfortable with yourself first, just as you are… not when you lose 10 more pounds, or have cuter jeans, or a better husband…. right here, right now… right me…

  3. Perfectly Sane Insanity

    Just stumbled onto your blog. Love it.

    A few old Hebrew sages and mystics have said that self-reflection is the key to changing the world. Most communities, people, cultures, they all have a set of definitions and answers regarding how to live life, how to pursue truth, how to capture happiness. It keeps things clear and the waters less murky. To challenge those, to honor ourselves, threatens the relationship of us to them and hence we run the risk of losing the connection. So we cave, we give up our innate core values and beliefs for the more immediate need of acceptance. But at some point, if we are lucky, someone, or something pushes us too far and we can no longer betray truth.

    Self-awareness may be the greatest form of revolution in the world. To honor what we know to be right, at whatever cost, is usually how heros and martyrs are born. It takes great courage, or great desperation. Either work.

  4. Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by the author.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *