I’ve been thinking a lot about the truth lately. Truth seems like a concrete thing—something you can stick a pin in and hang on the wall, like a butterfly. Something that can only be one way, forever.
But the truth is a lot more slippery than that. What you accept as a truth may actually be a belief that has nothing to do with reality.
Here’s how figuring out what I know to be true has gone down lately: I had an a-ha moment when working with my coach that an assumption I had taken as the truth – that I had to be smart, buttoned up, and eternally productive and high-achieving in order to be a valuable human being — was in fact, a belief. That was a real mind-bender. If what I thought was true isn’t, in fact, the truth, then what is? (For all your Matrix geeks out there, it was a real there is no spoon moment.)
And then I was flipping through the photos on my husband’s phone. I’ve mentioned it before, but I can spend a lot of time in the mirror sucking my gut in, hiking my pants up, and fluffing my shirt just so to create an appearance of having a flat belly – something I’ve been looking for and hoping for since my son was born over 2 years ago. Then I saw a picture of me my husband had taken. My belly was pretty much as big as my boobs, and let me tell you, my boobs ain’t small. The belly in the photo and the belly I saw in the mirror were two entirely different creatures. Which version was true? I had to find out. So I decided to do yoga with no shirt on in front of the mirror. Hoo boy. That was a real eye-opener.
What I had been seeing with my own two eyes in the mirror all those other times I was messing with my waistband wasn’t true. I was seeing what I wanted to see. I had to stop hiding from myself to see what truly was. And what I saw wasn’t merely that I had a big belly. It was that my body was out of balance, and it needed my attention to get right. I reached out to a naturopathic doctor (because I knew this was a grey area of not-quite-health-but-not-quite-illness that Western medicine just can’t wrap its brain around). Turns out, my thyroid and my adrenals both need support — which makes perfect sense after having a second child, moving, and completely changing my work in the span of a year — and that the excess weight that’s accumulated around my middle is a symptom of my body not quite being able to keep up with all the demands I’ve placed on it. That, and a call for help.
So, even though my truth in this scenario wasn’t one I was particularly excited about, recognizing it is the only thing that is going to lead me to a new, happier truth. Which is a way better outcome than ignoring an unpleasant truth.
If there’s a part of your life where you’re struggling, and you just can’t see your way out of it, ask yourself this: “What is true?”
One of my favorite quotes from the classic Autobiography of a Yogi is, “A truth cannot be created, it can only be perceived.” It’s not something we decide on. It’s something we just know.
The problem is, that knowing might be buried way down in your subconscious. It’s there, all right, but there’s a lot of programming about what’s right and wrong getting in the way—kind of like sitting behind a big pillar at a concert.
Being able to perceive your truth requires a couple things:
• Courage – To be wrong, to really see what’s there instead of what you want to see, and to be open to a new definition.
• Stillness – You can’t hear what’s true down deep in your bones if you’re constantly chasing after a to-do list. It’s just straight-up impossible, yo.
• Objectivity – You’ve got to find a way to peek your head around the pole of your beliefs.
Guess what helps you with all three of these? Yep. A mind-body practice. Sitting in meditation, doing yoga, or anything that gets your mind and body working at the same time on the same task, all get you in to that quiet space where you can hear that wisdom that lives somewhere down around your bones, and discern it from the countless thoughts that swirl around pretty much non-stop.
Guess what else helps? A coach. Working with someone who can reflect your thoughts back to you and guide you to a seat with a better view (to continue to the concert analogy) is incredibly helpful. Having an objective ear, whose only intention is to help you grow in the ways you are longing to grow, helps parse the information you get and guide you toward your own capital-T truth.
Do you recognize your truth, so you can make decisions that honor it? Or are you willing yourself not to see it? I would love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comments!
I can tell you one thing about owning your truth. It is such a freaking relief. And the view is waaaaay better.
If you’re ready to uncover your truth, read about my 1-day retreat. It’ll be a magical mix of yoga, meditation, soul searching, and group coaching, all designed to help you look your truth in the eye and shake its hand.
Take care, and keep breathing,