Back in my corporate days, say 10 or 15 or 20 years ago, I was counseled often by wise mentors to play the game, to keep my head down and mouth shut, to do what was asked of me and do it better than anyone else. Usually, that’s what I did – not always, but usually – until I’d find myself suffering from a bad case of what I like to call an “indigestion of shoulds.” “You should do _____ because it will make other people happy. You should say _____ because it will impress them. You shouldn’t say ______, because it won’t. You should never let ‘em see you sweat or let ‘em think they’re winning.”
That never seem like the right approach for me; turns out I am not made for indigestion. I am not made for posturing or appearances or shapeshifting, I learned. I didn’t learn it easily, of course; it took years of anxiety, panic attacks, alcoholic drinking, and the special brand of exhaustion that comes from co-dependent people pleasing at the expense of your Self to teach me.
But once I learned, I would never forget. I began to see that it was okay to lead with my heart and my truth; it was okay to be the unvarnished, unedited, soul-guided and honest me; not just in my professional sphere, but everywhere.
Maybe it’s the circles I move in, or the seekers I move with… but I’ve been seeing so much good, raw honesty lately – in TLC meetings, the way people are showing up in conversations and relationships and with themselves – and the more honesty I see, the more I am affirmed: Honesty is the only way to get anyplace real. It’s the only way to maneuver through our suffering. It’s the only path that leads directly to the lives of authenticity we so desperately seek. And, what’s more, honesty is contagious: Truth begets truth, openness creates more openness, the seeds of freedom take hold in those who see honesty in action and then that freedom propagates itself.
May we all feel the freedom that lies within those seeds. May we plant them, in others, with no sense of scarcity or hesitation. May we all know it’s okay to be you who you are, to lead with your open heart, to heal and to grow – with no indigestion, and no justification or apology required.