The Unbearable Lightness of Honesty

The Unbearable Lightness of Honesty


Many people experience confusion about whether to honor inner longings and blaze their own trail, or do what is “reasonable” by following traditions or the expectations of others. There is an ever-increasing complexity of standards, achievements and approved ways of being that the world seems to demand. It’s hard to know what’s best for you when you’re distracted by so many models: peers, family and public lives all point in different directions.

Part of our modern lexicon is that we can be whatever we want. This is true: in a mobile capitalist culture that values achievement and innovation, we really do have the option to invent ourselves, move to a new place, live and work differently. But how do you know who you were meant to be? Maybe it’s not about taking a prescription, emulating someone else, or even picking from the many choices. Maybe it’s about listening to your own heart.

Want What You Want, Love What You Love

When in doubt, go back to center. Really listen. What calls to you? What inspires you? What urge threatens to overtake you? Look for moments when your heart feels light and ask yourself why? Identify the idea, feeling or memory that gave rise to the lightness and follow where it leads.

Pay Attention

Sometimes I hear clients say, “If I were really honest with myself, I would____________.” Now we are getting somewhere! There is an irrepressible excitement and aliveness in the person as they express the longing. But sometimes such moments are scary because immediately there is a thought of all that might be risked if the fantasy were lived out. Somebody may end up disappointed in you. You may doubt your own voice, fear making a wrong choice or missing your way. All that can be dealt with. Anyone living someone else’s life is surely depressed. The fulfillment of your very particular human destiny requires you to pay close attention to yourself.

If you are wondering who you are and how to live, don’t look to the world for your answers. Look inside and notice the clues. What do you fantasize about? What section of the bookstore do you always go to? What did you want to be when you grew up?

What would you say if you were really honest with yourself?


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