I’ve never read Hamlet in its entirety. Shakespeare was a great poet and playwright. He was able to articulate life in a way that people understood and could be entertained and that was cool. Whether we, as writers, realize it, or not, but we are attempting to accomplish the same thing.
Life happens all around us and each of us have a way of capturing these moments. Some have a strongbox memory that they can recall events of the past in great detail. Some capture life in film by taking pictures, or shooting video, of timeless moments. Still, some write. The method of detailing life isn’t important but the fact that we record it is.
One line from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene III has been quoted by both scholar and layman and that is, “to thine own self be true…” The crazy part is that even though it can be quoted, do we really know what we are asking the person to do? My mom always told me that, whenever I read the Bible, always get the full context of what was written. So, read what happened before and what happened after that one scripture that you are determined to quote. The complete phrase that was said is…
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
This was a father-son conversation and the father was telling his son not to allow his environment to determine who he was and his decisions. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:7 NIV, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” No one wants to be a slave but we create a sense of slavery and servitude by the environments that we keep and the decisions we make. There is freedom in truth, especially that truth to yourself!!
Shakespeare also placed a true/false switch in here that just screams at me… being true to you and not false to others. Did you know that each of us has two brains? Our first brain is the one between our ears. And our second brain is… No, the second brain isn’t there… get your mind outta the gutter. Our second brain is actually in our gut. Here’s a quick test…
For the next 10 seconds, stop and turn your attention to what your head is telling you…
What did you hear?
Now, let go of what you hear and trying to figure it out, turn your attention to your body. Take the same 10 seconds and ‘listen’ to your body. Rest your attention on your physical self…
What did you notice?
For most people, the two tend to be extremely different experiences. For example, when I did this exercise my head was listening to the birds outside my window, the gentle hum of the computer, thinking about going to make my breakfast shake, getting back to writing this letter, and more… But when I checked my body, I felt the need to relax and breathe, I felt the tension in my shoulders, and for some reason, I just started itching. ☺
If we stay in our head, we would never stop moving. We would be an uncontrolled freight train with tons of deliveries. But, when I did my physical ‘systems check’, I realized that I needed to slow down. Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D. says, “In this case, I believe that “honoring myself” means leaning towards the latter. The more we practice checking in, the wiser we become about discerning what is happening and how we can best take care of ourselves.” And I agree…
Being true to yourself isn’t about having multiple personalities based on different scenarios and situations but rather listening to, and acting on, your second brain… your ‘gut’.
When you listen to your gut, you are being most true to yourself because you are listening to how you feel about a thing. Did you realize that ‘the intricate network of millions of neurons lining our guts greatly influences our mood and our thinking”? This is where we get the phrase, “butterflies in my stomach”. Our gut doesn’t do reason, it just does. Our brain will perform an analysis on a subject, taking into consideration all of the known variables and produce a reasonable response based on these variables and the perceived reaction, whereas your gut simply says, “Let’s do (or don’t) that” or “I love (or hate) that”.
Here’s the wrap-up…
Being true to yourself doesn’t have to be a long process of self examination and discovery. It really isn’t some deep theological or philosophical journey into the unknown recesses and chasms of life. It is as simple as breathing…
Listen to your heart…
I love you ALL!!!
Recovering from substance addiction—without becoming addicted to spirituality.
by Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D.
Published January 18, 2012