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Aug 15

Being true to one’s self

Being true to one’s self, a true challenge! Indeed when you look at it more closely, it seems that most of the time, it is easier for us to have an opinion on what is good for others rather than ourselves. However, since no one knows us better than we do ourselves, shouldn’t it be easier to make a choice when it concerns us?
Somehow though, every time we are presented with a choice, doubts and paralysis have their way of creeping up. Could it be that we complicate our own life considering too many factors, to the point that we forget the essence of what we should be considering above all; our well-being? Following this train of thought, allow me to share a few of these factors that preclude us from being true to ourselves.

Should our decisions be “politically correct”?

The world of heightened political correctness in which we live in, coupled with the ubiquity and spotlight of social media exposing all our endeavours, statements, and actions to the rest of the world seems to makes us more afraid to be judged than anything else. It’s this reality precisely, that I believe to be most responsible for the ambivalence that comes to inhabit us. Hence, it becomes more than difficult to make the right decision, even when it is of a personal nature, without first having the sense to consider its political correctness or social relevance.
So we need to be conscious of the impertinence of paying too much attention to what others think of us as well as learn to not necessarily do what is “politically or socially correct for the sole purpose of avoiding the judgment of others “, because after all, who are they… to know what is good for us?

Our friends, full of great intentions

As mentioned in the introduction, for most of us, it seems much easier to be honest with others than it is to be honest with ourselves. This also perhaps explains why so many of our friends, though well intentioned, sometimes rush to tell us what they think, in some cases even trying to impose on us their own decisions, naturally always wanting what is best for us. Regardless, it is important to know our friends well enough to be able to assign due importance to their advice and in order to ensure the relevance of their guidance in accordance with reality, which is ultimately only ours.

Rational or irrational?

It may occur that our decision be considered irrational by others, however, aren’t we better placed than anyone else to determine its relevance? So I ask, on what basis do we really judge the rationality of a decision? Consider an artist who leaves his lucrative job to work on his art, for someone whose reality is forged within a materialist capitalist system this decision may seem completely irrational, yet it makes total sense for the artist who’s art is not just a job or means to an end but rather his true passion.
Now then, as long as you are comfortable with your decision and that it makes you happy, ultimately that’s all that matters. As human beings, are we not more than just the mind? Are we not the heart as well? Therefore, isn’t our rationality merely a part of the whole, and so, don’t we owe it to ourselves to consider each decision as a whole, both logically and emotionally?

Listening to our little inner voice

Who hasn’t heard that little inner voice that calls each and every one of us at some point or another in an intuitive manner, helping us make the right decision or at least hinting as to what not to do? I believe that listening to this inner voice is the equivalent of listening to the subconscious, a part of our instinct buried deep within our being. Since in no way influenced by social determinants suffered by our conscious self, it is likely that the subconscious is much better suited to make the right decisions. This makes me think: Could our subconscious being be more conscious than our conscious being? Regardless, I strongly urge you to never ignore your precious little inner voice.

Being true to one’s self

In summary, allow me to make the following recommendations:
1. Don’t listen blindly to others’ suggestions, because even if their advice might be well intentioned it is likely based on their own reality and not necessarily on your own.
2. However, do talk it over with someone you trust. A true friend should be able to contribute, without judgment, fuelling your own decision making process without influencing your ultimate decision, because after all, you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know that your decision came from you. Here is one of my personal quotes on the matter: “Acquaintances judge and gossip…real friends listen and accompany.”
3. Don’t smother your inner voice, instead listen to it and let it guide you.
4. Finally, once a decision’s taken, don’t leave space for regret. In any case it is impossible to know what would have been the course of events if you had decided / acted differently. (I invite you to read my article titled “Living without regret.”)
Trying to make a decision while considering too many external factors, without allowing ourselves to be in touch with what our “innermost being” equates to fooling and even deluding ourselves. So ultimately, being true to one’s self means not “deceiving the self”. And if there is someone to whom you owe it to honest with, it is really yourself. Life is too short to be lived according to the perceptions that we have on what others expect from us.

© 2013, Jacques Dufort. All rights reserved.

2 comments

  1. Ben

    Very insightful and timely. Society today gives us a model of what ours lives should look like, and through the influence of modern media it is impossible to ignore. As a result, it seems a lot of lives are lived as a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. That combined with the natural human instinct of fear, has produced a society that wants for nothing but seems to clamour for more. We should seriously look at your points above and question the reasons why were are living the lives we do….is it for the acceptance of others? And if the answer is yes how do we now reverse this trend? Nice job Jacques!

    1. Jacques Dufort

      Thank you Ben. It is by meeting so many different people as we do in our daily jobs that one really get to fully appreciate how diverse we all are. Yet our industrialized society as created our schooling system to mimic what we did with our manufacturing sector in the 50’s and 60’s where there was little place for individuality as one is asked to make cookie cutter stuff. So, with such a model and so much peer/parent pressure, it’s hard for most to really follow their dreams and passion such as you did and be true to one’s self. In the same vein (something your wife may be interested in also) here are two links pertaining to how we may have forgotten the idea of being passionate in order to succeed, Larry Smith on Ted talks and why you’ll fail at having a great career and on how we teach our youths based on what may be the wrong premise as explained by Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing education paradigms Ted talk
      (You may also like his presentation on how school killed creativity)

      Thanks for commenting by the way. Much appreciated as it gives life to my blog.
      JD

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