Being true to myself is very simple. It’s about being aware and connected to what my body is feeling. I do this through having regular moments throughout my day where I check in. These moments are those that I can feel where I am, if I am with my body or if I am off and distracted somewhere else. These moments are movements that I instantly know if I am connected or not. Walking down the corridor or sitting down in a chair are two examples. That way I can be in the midst of doing something, for I walk down the corridor and sit in chairs constantly during my day, and check in. I know if I am distracted, taken something on or totally present and aware of everything around me. When I am connected and present, it doesn’t matter what I am doing I know that I am being true to myself. So I can be at home, work, in the car I am the same. It’s very simple and very ordinary but something I know supports me greatly throughout my life. (Nurse, Australia)
It sounds a bit strange maybe but at the age of 54 I am still getting to know myself. There is an incredulous ‘WHAT?’ to this and also a very beautiful humility. The former based on the question of what happened in my early life that means I do not have a strong sense of who I am and the latter being the joy of learning every day and being open to rediscovering my innate qualities and what it is that I naturally offer. A bit of a ‘duh’ moment yes, but to realise that to be true to ourselves we need to know ourselves intimately, deeply, honestly and warmly has been a grand and beautiful transformation for me. And as this develops, every moment is an opportunity to observe whether I am resourcing myself or allowing myself to be at the whim of external factors. It can be really simple stuff about what to wear, what and when to eat, when to rest and I love those moments when I am observant for long enough for it to be totally clear what is needed next. (Midwife, UK)
I have many roles in my life – woman, wife, mother, sister, nurse… to mention a few!
As I write these I realise how ‘clever’ I have been in my life to jump from one role to the other! Of course it is not clever at all – it just looks like it from the outside looking in and is totally reinforced by those around me who say that I am a great nurse, a wonderful mother, gorgeous wife, caring sister etc. These positive affirmations have kept me in these roles as in the past I have needed the affirmations to feel good about myself!
But not anymore…
I am realising that it is my inner essence (soul or inner voice) that is the best guide for me in determining how I am as a mother, wife, sister or nurse. The voice of my inner essence is my body. Sometimes when I am being asked to step into a role or a task associated with a particular role, I can feel in my body that maybe it is not the right thing for me to be doing at that time. I can choose to override this feeling and do what is being asked or actually say no to what is being asked of me.
Checking in to my body and the voice coming from my essence is for me living in a way that is being true to myself. (Nurse, NZ)
Being true to ourselves can only come from a foundation of love which is in each one of us. A foundation when connected to is to be lived in all we do, in all the roles we have in life. So it is not so much prioritising being true to ourselves, but a constant inner focus that naturally comes out in every role we have. In this way we are not the one that is playing a role but live what is true in all we do. (Nurse, Netherlands)
Mother, wife, midwife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend, neighbour, cook, cleaner, holder, washing woman, writer, educator, deep counsel, driver, I could go on and on, these are the real time roles in my current life. Being true to myself in all of this is an interesting topic. One I have thought about a lot. I notice there are certain things I still just can’t say out loud to be true to myself even though I want to, I’m working on that though because it feels like abuse when I don’t. It’s always because there is another person involved and it might hurt them or change things for them or cause them to react if I am true to myself. I always know exactly what I need to be true to myself, even if I don’t say it though, and that is a great start!
There are also many ways that I am true to myself in my day. A good example is most of those roles are centred around our household. I wear many hats. I am dedicated and love what I bring to our family. But what about me? How do I fit in me with all of that going on? And what is me, is there a me outside of all of that? There sure is. Me is the feeling of depth and warmth and beauty inside, I know I am most me when I feel relaxed, not tense, just being. If I can’t feel that then I know I’m taking on the pressure of one or more of the roles.
I am the woman who attends to those roles but isn’t them. Me is the part of the equation that says no I feel tired now, I’m going to sit down for a bit or gets the feeling to go and do that particular job now and it turns out that was exactly what was needed… the feeling, sensing, knowing part of life.
To really hold myself in all of this I have to abide by my body and what it is showing me, and I need to have a strong day to day rhythm that is my own. Not for my family, for me. I work shifts and like to go to bed early. Sometimes I eat my dinner earlier than the rest of the family and just sit and chat while they eat theirs. Little things that may seem to go against the grain of being a ‘good mother/wife/friend’ totally make the difference to how I feel and the level of support I can then offer back to those roles. (Midwife, Australia)
Am I bringing all of me to what I’m doing wherever I am, am I present in the moment or am I thinking about something else?
Bringing focus to my breath and being aware of breathing in and then breathing out supports me to come back to my body, to feel, to observe what is happening, it is like a circuit breaker and then a gap occurs, and there isn’t so much pressure and instead there is a sense of spaciousness and everything becomes still. It is a sure way to get me out of my head, the thoughts that are there on tap if I allow them.
If I’m feeling and sensing with my body I feel true to who I am and the role I’m part of just happens because in a way I’m there doing it with my whole being instead of fragmented in this idea, this thought, this picture, this right way, the way I planned it, or the way I am told that it needs to happen. If I’m with myself there is a feeling that there is nothing I cannot do that is asked of me 😌 (Nurse/Midwife, Australia)
Recently we had a new ‘in-charge’ person join our workplace. Her position as our new leader had not been readily accepted by everyone in the unit. Changes were implemented in many areas of our work – equipment changes, our documentation/paperwork, new rules and regulations being enforced, for example, night duty being obligatory, which some of us haven’t had to do for over fifteen years because we have had permanent night staff. And now this was all changing which left the majority of us feeling ‘up in arms’, myself included initially. There was no team collaboration in the beginning. Emotions expressed included anger, frustration, feeling dismissed, not validated, bullied and/or undermined.
It did not take long for me to realise this needed to be turned around to bring harmony and team collaboration back to work. I started by looking at my part in it all – how was I contributing to the group dynamics? I let go of feeling like a victim in this situation and seeing the bigger picture for us all – changes were being put in place so that all the units were the same and there was a consideration of fairness for all. The fact is we have not had an ‘in-charge’ person in our area for over six months so there was no true leadership in decision making. I focussed on the purpose of the work I do, how much I love it, bringing all of me in each moment and set aside past resentment, hurt or reaction. I also paid attention to getting to know the new ‘in-charge’ person, not giving my power away but not seeing her as a threat either.
Interestingly I have observed that slowly but surely a positive change has been felt on the ward, more acceptance and harmony has been restored. (Midwife, Australia)