A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.
— Meister Eckhart
A newfound goal of mine is to truly "know thyself." I am letting go of some lifelong denials, some pretensions, some lying to myself that I have done all my life. This is a lifelong pattern of faking it. I am determined to tell the truth to myself — to be authentic and face it, if I have been lying or denying anything to ME.
This new venture started when I needed to speak to someone who I felt was not always authentic and who was not truthful at times, to the point that she convinced herself that a lie was true. I did talk to her and, to my dismay, she denied examples I brought up, thereby lying again.
However, I am a spiritually awake person and I have many like-minded friends. One of my guy friends reminded me, as I shared my experience, that we are always "looking in the mirror' when we criticize or judge someone else. It is so easy to be righteous and blame someone outside of ourselves. Although at first baffled, I took what this friend said to heart. I began to seriously look within, to see where I might be guilty of lying, as I had accused the woman. The more I examined myself, I realized that at times I will temporarily hide something from my husband, for instance, if I don't think he will approve of a choice I've made or a social plan I've chosen. When talking to others, I will exaggerate something so it seems worse, or better.
Although I am definitely less in denial than I was in my younger years, I won't always face something unpleasant. Sometimes I outright lie to save face or because it seems so much easier than telling the truth. I realized I will pretend, deny or tell myself an untruth until I believe it unequivocally.
The mirror unfogged exactly as I had accused my woman friend.
Here is one example that has plagued me my whole adult life. I have a lifetime of self-loathing around my body image. I am a curvaceous goddess-of-the-ancient-times type, which is to say not naturally thin and tall. When I see photos of me in my youth, to my surprise, I realize now that I WAS beautiful. The lie I have been telling myself is that I am not a woman of beauty or not okay just the way I am. I have struggled and battled to love my body. Yet, to be honest, I haven't liked seeing my reflection in a window, or looking at a full-length mirror. This is all denial and not facing the truth. I normally hate photos of myself, too. I let them cause me pain and suffering because who I am physically doesn't match with the vision I hold in my mind. Recently, I have been looking at myself more, and accepting myself exactly as I am. Yes, I am not a typical beauty in the modern sense, yet my beauty does stem from within me — the love shines from my heart into my face in photos. I AM beautiful! I'm beginning to like photos of myself, and not look away if I catch myself in a window reflection or mirror.
This new quest to "know thyself" as the ancient Greeks carved in stone, is deeply renewing. If I catch myself starting to lie, I stop myself and tell the truth, to myself or others. I am thankful for the lesson learned, because I judged my friend. To know thyself brings a deep and lasting inner peace and serenity.
By Deborah Perdue, is the author of "Grace of Gratitude Journal," www.graceofgratitude.com, a Licensed Practitioner at Grants Pass Center for Spiritual Living and an accomplished book designer, www.illuminationgraphics.com.
Send inner peace articles to Sally McKirgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.