Know Who You Are
One of the deep needs in the human soul is the need for acceptance. We all want to be accepted for who we are in our hearts. Most of us don't know how to live from our heart therefore others don't get to see our heart. If others don't see our hearts how can they accept us for who we really are?
First you need to take an honest look into your heart and soul. When I say "heart" I am referring to the part of us that encompasses our personalities, characteristics, tendencies, behavior patterns and motivations. You need to be honest in your assessment of what makes you tick and how you function with others. This is the first step in getting to know who you are. Until you get to know yourself you don't leave the door open for others to get to know you or your heart.
When you live from your heart you create a life that others can count on. When you live from your head you create confusion. Living from your head is when you try to do (or say) what you think others might want see (or hear). Living from your heart is when you know yourself well enough to be consistent in your words and actions.
To be consistent you need to know (and embrace) your values, your beliefs, your core personality and work (live) within that. When you live according to being true to your beliefs and values people know what they can count on with you. They know where you are coming from, how you function and what they can count on with you. You become dependable and consistent.
When you live not knowing what your beliefs, values or core personality is you are inconsistent you sway whichever way the wind is blowing. There is nothing for others to count on with you. When you don't know where you are coming from neither does anybody else.
The trap, in trying to get others to accept you by saying or doing what you think they might want to hear or see, is that you are not being true to yourself. Sadly, you are creating the opposite effect you are aiming to have. You aren't letting people see your heart. You are living from your head by thinking you are doing what you think others think that what you are doing is going to make them think you are something you think they want to see. Whew! That is a lot of thinking! With all that thinking no wonder people don't know what to think about you!
So, to answer the question "how do people get to know your heart?" The answer is quite simple and profound. You show them what is in your heart by living it. The hard part is the process of self-discovery that will take you to a deeper understanding of who you are under all the facades of who you are trying to be.
A good litmus test for living true to yourself is if you start to get frustrated or defensive during a conversation. Stop and ask yourself what is behind your feelings of frustration or what are you being defensive about. For instance: if someone is accusing you of being selfish and it hits a nerve, and you respond by attacking and justifying your actions you might want to look at what the hard truth is. Realize you might have selfish tendencies.
It is a great truth that when something about ourselves that we don't like is pointed out we get defensive and strike out. That is when you know the nail has been hit on the head because it hurts. The more you fight those truths, the more you are fighting getting to know, and accepting all of, who you are. It takes a lot of courage to say "yes, there is a part of me that is selfish." And it is tremendously freeing to know that about yourself. Once you "see" that side of you then you can begin to cope with and change what you don't like.
There is a wonderful, eye opening exercise. Here is my non-disclaimer for the following exercise. You might not like the results of this and you will have enormous growth after you allow this part of you to sink in. The part you won't like is exactly what you need to see in yourself. We all have those dark places we don't like to go to. When we don't admit they are there or try to gloss over them is when they, in reality, control us. When we can look at those dark places and say, "yep, I have that tendency" is when we can control them (the dark places). In knowing that is where you are going to go, be ready to see a part of yourself you may not want to see and don't want others to know about you. The truth is others may already know this about you and keep clear of you because of it. Again it all goes back to being true to who you are. For that to happen you have to know all of who you are.
Having said that, let's do the exercise. Remember what this exercise is about. It is a tool to help you see another aspect of yourself. This is not about changing who you are, it is about knowing who you are and coming to terms with that. It is about seeing the core of your heart and soul that has been buried under the dark places. Once you see the dark places you can shine the light of truth on them and set them free. This is how you get to know yourself - good, bad and indifferent. And this takes a large amount of courage and personal resolve to get to the other side of this learning.
1) Make a list of three people you admire and three people you hate or don't like. They can be anyone you know or don't know. From a spouse or old teacher to a celebrity or fictional character. 2) List three qualities that inspire you or that you would like to emulate about each of the three people you admire. 3) List three qualities that horrify you or make you angry or upset you about the three people you hate or don't like.
On a separate piece of paper make a list of all the positive qualities from the people you admire on one side, and a list of all the negative qualities you dislike on the other side.
What you are seeing in these lists are aspects of yourself that you may or may not realize are a part of your core being. The admirable traits you see are aspects of your core being that you may not realize are hidden in your soul. The same holds true for the negative traits. They, too, are aspects of your soul that you need to recognize as being a part of who you are.
Take a moment with this list and identify the words that give you an emotional charge. Say out loud "I am _____" with each word. If you can say them without some kind of emotional reaction then move on to the next word. If there is some kind of reaction take a moment to sit with and meditate on those words and try to uncover what is behind them.
This is how you begin to see what runs your life or causes you pain. When you are at the point where you can look at these hard truths you will begin to understand and appreciate your core self. You will also gain compassion for those who exemplify the negative traits you share. And, you will recognize the admirable traits as qualities you share with those you admire.
This is the beginning of getting to know and being true to who you really are. Keep in mind this is a process not an event. The next time you start to get reactive to something someone says, be open to the idea that there might be truth in it. If there is no truth in it there will be no emotional reaction to it.
Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for going through this exercise. This is not an easy thing to do. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. When you inhale breathe in all the good qualities the courage, the strength, the admirable traits that you have yet to let come in. When you exhale breathe out the negative reactions to the traits you keep locked away. Breathe in another deep breath filled with compassion to comfort the part of you that needs to deal with what you've just learned. Exhale slowly letting go of all the darkness that has caused you pain or held you back breathe out and accept all of who you are. Know that you are all these things and so much more. And at some time in your life all of these qualities good, bad and indifferent have served you well. It might just be time to let some of them go.
Oh, and don't worry about whether people are going to like you any more or less. Those who love you will love you even more and those that don't well they already don't so it doesn't much matter. Life is a paradox and there is room for all of it. We all have tendencies for good and bad. Living from heart is all in how you choose to deal with your tendencies. It's not about changing your life or who you are it is about discovering who you are and choosing how you want to live within those truths. That is having a heart.
© 2002-2012 Saga Stevin. All rights reserved.