Truth is alive, dynamic and always changing. To live our deepest truths is to become one with our integrity, power and love. Truth winds its way through our lives at many levels: Telling the truth about the facts of your daily existence, where you went, what you spent, how many fish you caught seems like a simple enough task, but many have trouble with this. They often embellish or diminish their life story by taking a major detour from the truth. Truth is about tuning to your wants and needs. What movie do you really want to see? Where do you really want to go for dinner? Who do you really want to spend time with? What sparks your interest? Attune to your body and feelings: pay attention to when you are tired, hungry, sad, or happy. How do body sensations signal what you are feeling? Chest constriction often signals fear; a knot in the throat might be related to sadness.
Opening to truth begins by understanding your motivation and reactions to various situations. This requires a fearless look at ourselves. Ask yourself, "Did I say that to make him feel guilty?" "Did I hold back my feelings of frustration so she wouldn't get upset or leave me? What kind of work or living situation is best for me? Where do I feel a sense of belonging? Living your truth also means becoming aware of other cultures, religions, customs, beliefs and social traditions. This includes opening our eyes to injustice, discrimination, poverty and the complex interconnections between them all.
Remember you are part of a greater whole -- the one unifying energy that lies beyond your thoughts, emotions and conditioning. Explore your relationship with truth. When we were younger, our need for our parents' love, care and protection led us to develop deep instincts about what got us attention and acceptance, or possibly protected us from our parents' anger or violence. If you knew for sure that you'd get spanked for admitting you broke something, it made sense to lie to protect yourself. If you were teased or called a cry-baby for being upset, you may have donned a mask of happiness or cheerfulness. These survival strategies may have become life-long habits.
Opening to the truth means questioning all the conditioning, beliefs and concepts superimposed upon your true self then practicing new behavior. Here are some fears you might question: If you feel that you're being disloyal or committing a crime against the powers that be, you need to ask "Is this fear rooted in the past or present? Am I pretending to be happy when I'm really angry, because my parents punished me for being angry? What would happen now, if I let someone see my frustration or hurt? Is it really so dangerous in this situation?"
If you fear loss or rejection when you set limits or you say yes when you want to say no, then you need to surround yourself with people who support your honesty. If you fear expressing your desires, you fear making someone upset, hurt, defensive or angry. Explore your reasons for this. Are they old habits that served some childhood purpose? How does this lack of assertiveness keep you from feeling strong, centered and in charge of your life? Part of living by your truth is remembering that sometimes, we get a yes and sometimes, we get a no.
A starting place for learning to decipher your truths is to imagine an energy or brightness meter inside you that goes from one (low), to ten (high.) Notice which people and situations lead to feeling bright, energized, uplifted and nurtured. Notice what leads you to feel drained or empty. Then take the leap and go toward that which nurtures, sparks and helps bring you toward your aliveness and power.
It will take a repeated effort to remember that the voices that chide you into making you believe you're being selfish, mean and unkind are just old tape recordings from the past. Take notice of them but don't take them seriously. The trade-off for living your truth is that you get to have more personal power, joy and love in your life.
Most of all, remember that by living a truth-centered life, you will move from fear, anxiety and regrets to a life filled with fascination, curiosity and awe! Your body will relax and as you step beyond your conditioned old self into the stream of life where you become a source of inner happiness and peace.
Charlotte Sophia Kasl, Ph.D is a psychotherapist and the author of eight books including "If the Buddha Got Stuck" and "A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path." She presents workshops nationally and does therapy intensives. For more info visit: www.CharlotteKasl.com.