Be True To Yourself

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Be True To Yourself

You know the Shakespeare quotation by heart: “This above all, to your own self be true.” Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, put it another way: “It is better to follow your own path imperfectly than to live an imitation of someone else’s life with perfection.” But how do you even begin to know what your own path is?

Have you ever done something that felt good or easy in the moment, but deep down you knew wasn’t really what you wanted? Something that felt wrong not because someone else told you it was wrong, but because it went against something which, in your core, you knew to be right? It could be as simple as saying yes to another drink when you’d hoped to be up early the next day, or as profound as committing to a partner when your heart is in doubt. You know there’s something deeper, yet you instinctively take the path of least resistance.

But to listen to and honour that voice in your core—that is your true path.

So how do you follow it? First, you have to pay attention. It is so natural to crave what is easy and comfortable in each moment that the immediate desire to fit in, or to satisfy a craving, or to quit something difficult, can feel so pressing that you simply forget to focus on what’s underneath.

But the truth can only be avoided, never erased. And if you take the time to pause and ask yourself what you truly want, who you want to be, you will hear that deeper voice.

Then you have to trust it, to believe that it’s worth following, that you are worth honouring.

And finally, you have to act—to match what you do with what you value. That is how you move forward down your path.

Fortunately, every moment on your yoga mat is an opportunity to practice being true to yourself. In down dog, your teacher might be telling you to bring your hands shoulder-width apart. And everyone around you might have their hands shoulder-width apart. But if your shoulders feel pinched, remember that you are not necessarily most people—and you don’t need their approval, or your teacher’s approval, to know and do what your body needs. So if it’s telling you to widen your hands, widen them. You might not look like anyone else, but you’ll be yourself.

And if you begin to doubt, remember that each person around you is on a different path, in a different body. The way they express their truth may be beautiful, but you too have the power to create your own unique beauty. When you say “om” together, hear the sound of everyone speaking in their own voice—no one the same, but all committed to the truth.

Then carry that sound with you off your mat. When you’re faced with an easy way out—saying yes when you’d rather say no, staying quiet when someone is treating you with disrespect— remember to pause and listen, to find your truth, and to speak it.

Remember, too, that being true to yourself is a lifelong practice, a path that you follow daily and imperfectly. You may have massive breakthroughs, realising you want to make major changes in your life (job, city, partner, etc), but mostly being true to yourself will be about small victories.

Because there will be moments when you feel awkward or uncomfortable—but trust that they will never match the deep satisfaction of being truly comfortable in your own skin. And there will be moments when you feel like you’ve disappointed others—but know that the highest form of respect is not to please, but to act with honesty. There may also be moments when you realise your truth has changed—but accept that it’s a gift, not a failing, to expand your horizon and learn how to see things in a new way.

Stick to your guns, but keep your heart open. Your path can only be trodden one step at a time, and it’s up to you to choose your way.