How honest are we with ourselves? Do we tell ourselves the truth about our experience, about what we really want and need? How we really feel? We must learn to be profoundly honest, to tell ourselves the truth instead of responding from a place of social conformity or insecurity or lack of self-awareness.
Authentic transparency is the essence of to thine own self be true. So often, we walk around lying to ourselves. We don't do this consciously. We don't even realize we're doing it. We fall into patterns. We go to the party, even though we don't want to. We agree to a dinner, or a date, with someone who makes us uncomfortable. We are aching to speak up--but we don't. We're afraid to be rude, or we worry that people won't like us. Or we've simply gotten used to living in a constricted state. In twelve-step parlance, we do the same things over and over again, expecting different results.
Authentic transparency is not about being transparent to other people. It is, in fact, about being transparent to yourself. Consider this: If we were honest with ourselves, how much easier would life become?
During my teens I was rebelling and trying to find my sense of self outside myself--and that wasn't working so well at all. This played itself out most dramatically in my relationship with my father. At one point, I was in New York and my dad was in London. I called to wish him Happy Father's Day and I suddenly began to cry. I had no idea it was going to happen until it did. It was as if a dam had burst. I told my dad how sorry I was, how I would never have purposely hurt him by rebelling, by rejecting him. And after a long pause, my father gently said, "Panache, I have only ever played the role you asked me to play for you. No apology necessary."
That was a profound moment in my evolution. I had found the courage--so suddenly that it felt like a shock--to articulate my feelings and my internal state. And my honesty, in turn, allowed my father the space to embrace me. It was a complete embrace. There wasn't an ounce of judgment in it, or rancor, or disappointment. He understood that I'd had to go through something--let's call it rebellion--and that it had nothing to do with him. It was a pure and simple moment.
That event led me to the realization that everyone in my life--everyone I encounter--is playing the role I need him or her to play for me. We all do this. If we have anger, you can be sure we will encounter someone who will piss us off. If we're sad, we will come across a person who will set off our sorrow. Ultimately, what these encounters do is to provide us with opportunities to feel whatever it is that is unresolved within ourselves.
Once we allow ourselves to feel whatever may be unresolved within ourselves, we discover that these people no longer need to play their particular role in our lives. Our relationships, whatever they may be, shift absolutely. When I let go of my rebellion, my young man's rage, my need to tear myself away from my father, he ceased to be the man who I had been rebelling against, and we were able to meet in a space of pure love. Today, that same man comes to my house at ten each morning and takes care of my twin daughters, playing with them and giving them the greatest gift of all: his attention and love.
When you are in a state of authentic transparency, it's a huge relief. You will feel coherent and light. Even though things may be happening all around you that are chaotic or overwhelming, you will remain clear and steadfast in the midst of it all. You become congruent with your feelings--because you know them. You're not being led around by your feelings as if you're a dog on a leash.
Make the commitment to be honest with yourself about what you're feeling. Fully own it. The funny part is that the very second you have this awareness, it automatically shifts your reality. You begin to see that, in becoming authentically transparent, your relationship to yourself and to everyone around you changes completely, and--I promise you--for the better.
Excerpted from Discovering Your Soul Signature: A 33-Day Path to Purpose, Passion, and Joy by Panache Desai. Copyright 2014 by Panache Desai. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House Inc.