For me, one of the aspects of healthy recovery is learning about who I am and staying rigorously honest with myself about my reality. This means understanding my own story to the point that leaves no confusion – where I cannot pretend, lie, omit… But I know it’s a tall order. For most of us. When you try it first, it might seem really hard to live like that – fully honest and void of delusions – because we’re used to telling ourselves stories about who we are. We tell stories for different reasons – to protect ourselves, to hide, to make ourselves feel better – and it’s in our human nature to do that. It’s a survival mechanism – especially when we experience trauma.
Personally, I believe in the cliché that “Truth will set you free.” You see, once I stopped telling myself stories, I was left with the truth – and with that came freedom. The “problem” with truth is that it’s not something that’s always easy to find and face, and many of us have a hard time accepting reality. This is why so many of us avoid it, why we distract ourselves with substances, or electronic devices, unhealthy relationships – all those things that take us out of our lives, the things that make it impossible to see clearly. I know I certainly avoided my dire situation for as long as I could… until the story I fabricated for myself started killing me.
On another side of this coin lies self-criticism and over-rigidity. Being honest with yourself and accepting reality as it is shouldn’t equal punishment. When I get stressed I can get too hard on myself – I am better at it now, but self-flagellation is such a common trait for those of us who have lived through trauma and shame that it’s very important for us to be gentle with ourselves even when being brutally honest. Sounds like a paradox, but it is possible to find a healthy balance. Truth of your story and making peace with reality can only lead to personal development and evolution of your consciousness. I no longer have to fear getting caught in lies or missing out on beautiful things in this life because I’m too distracted by the smoke of in-authenticity. My awareness also helps me get along better with others, it allows me to see others with more compassion, more understanding. I never, again, want to be confused about who I am and about my place in this world; I never again want to be selfishly running away from myself and those around me. I want to be here, now and present.
Carl Jung wrote once: “A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way, and is, in addition, fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor.”
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