This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True

Good morning, and TGIF!

While listening to this week’s IIN module, I heard phenomenal quote from Iyanla Vanzant: 

You’re not tested where you’re strong – you’re tested where you’re weak. 

Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the  #beTRUEtoYOU challenge hosted by Powercakes’ bloggess, Casey — so I figure this combination of events was meant to tell me something.


Why? Well, my weak points have always been trusting myself and being true to myself.  

First, the issue of trusting myself and my instincts: I spent years convinced that “listen to your heart” was actually code for “Be impulsive, be reckless, and feel free to do stupid stuff that you’ll regret for the rest of your life because you didn’t bother to think it through.” I’d seen so many people do life-alteringly harebrained, ridiculous stuff under the guise of allegedly “following their heart” that as far as I was concerned, the heart was an agent of poor decision making and self-destruction. And I had no intention of going down that path. 

I decided that I shouldn’t listen to my heart, ever, under any circumstance. If my instincts or heart ever spoke up, I planned to at least relentlessly question them, if not ignore them entirely. In either case, my plan was to totally disregard their messages. My brain and critical thinking skills were to rule above all. 

As it turns out, this approach has actually made me miserable on more than one occasion.  

In each of those cases, my gut and my intuition knew that something was off and that I was getting myself into a bad situation, but I always came up with logical explanations for why that feeling was wrong.  Reasons why I could disregard my instincts and carry on.  Reasons why I shouldn’t trust my gut.  Reasons why it was totally fine to explain away the “This isn’t a good idea” voice in the back of my head.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
This, of course, has never worked out in my favor.  Not even once.

It also leads directly to weak point numero dos: the fact that I’ve struggled mightily to be true to myself.  Being true to myself requires trusting myself, trusting my instincts, and listening to my heart. Without having that foundation in place, nothing built on top of it will stand.


It took some exquisitely painful experiences for me to learn that I can, and must, trust my instincts and listen to my heart. In each of those experiences, my heart had known all along what was right, but my brain had shut it down in favor of a supposedly logical explanation.

Those experiences were miserable, but they’ve taught me the importance of trusting myself and being true to myself — and the areas of my life where I’ve done that have improved dramatically.  I’m now able to do this much more readily and easily than ever before, but I realized today that I haven’t applied that principle across the board.  

The piecemeal approach hasn’t been deliberate, but rather by default.
Trust your instinct

I’m a big believer in the importance of being fully engaged in an effort to overcome a default behavior, so I’m publicly committing to applying the whole-of-life approach to trusting my instincts and being true to myself.

To help with this effort, I’m doing two things: first, I’m creating what is, for me at least, the ultimate rebuttal against my brain’s efforts to discredit and undermine my instincts.  

It’s based on the two pictures below – it’s powerful evidence to know that two of the most brilliant people who have ever lived believe firmly in the importance of honoring and trusting one’s instincts. 
Always trust your instinct! 

... trust your instincts ...

The other thing I’m doing is finding quotes that really resonate with me and adding them to my art journal, since I like being able to keep everything in there as a one-stop shop for inspiration and encouragement. Some of the keepers are scattered throughout this post, and I love them – here’s to the wise folks who spoke/wrote these words!

lao tzu

And, of course, there’s always this gem (one of my favorite parts of Clueless):

Snooty girl: It’s just as Hamlet said, “To thine own self be true!”
Cher: Hamlet didn’t say that. 
Snooty girl: Um, I think I remember Shakespeare accurately.
Cher: Um, I think I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that. That Polonius guy did.

If prior experience is any indication, trusting myself, listening to my instincts and my heart, and being true to myself — across every area of my life, not just a handful of situations — will be a tremendous change for the better.

2 thoughts on “This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True

  1. Caitlin Helsel November 30, 2012 / 12:34 pm

    Bravo Lillian! Such an awesome post 🙂 And one that I identify with very strongly, too. I have some trust issues with people in general…especially myself and that definitely needs to stop. I understand the idea of being cautious, especially about making major changes, but I also need to stop holding myself back because I'm afraid to fail or make a mistake. I love how you are working to listen to yourself better, especially writing down those quotes!! Thank you for sharing this today, hun…definitely something I'm glad I read ❤

  2. Lillian November 30, 2012 / 4:31 pm

    Thanks, Caitlin! I'm glad you liked reading this – I know it's scary as hell to face the possibility of failure and mistakes. That said, though, you have so much to be proud of, you're so very smart and talented, and you're definitely worth your own trust! 🙂

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