If you follow me regularly, you will know what a lover of reading I am – and always have been.
My mum used to tell me what a challenge it was keeping me supplied with books as I read them as fast as she could get them for me. I think we pretty much lived in the local library … you can call me Matilda!
Whilst I maybe don’t consume books quite as quickly as I once did, and for some the format may have changed (I love Audible for “reading” and dog-walking at the same time), reading is still a huge part of my life.
I am totally committed to lifelong learning and see books as a cornerstone to this.
I am currently listening to The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. I first read this book in 2020 and have listened to it regularly since then. There aren’t many books that I read over and again, but each time I pick this one up, it is like I am reading it for the first time. There I am wondering how I missed that particular lesson last time round!!
So this really is the gift that keeps on giving!
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius offers advice to his son Laertes as he leaves for university. He ends the speech saying:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
So our authenticity to ourselves is also our truth to others. What a wonderful world that would be to live in.
Michael Singer starts his book with this quote but also questioning which self we should be true to? Is that the self when we are in a bad mood, the one when we are humbled by our mistakes, the one that speaks from the dark recesses of our heart when we are depressed or upset, the fleeting moments when life feels fanciful and light.
He goes on to discuss Freud’s views on the self, whether that is the id, our primal animal nature, our superego, the judgement system society instilled within us or the ego self, our representative to the outside world that struggles to maintain balance between the id and superego.
Now, I haven’t come here today to challenge the views of two greats in Michael Singer and Freud, but my view is that there is only one true version of ourself and the other versions come along to protect us from some perceived or real danger in our lives.
I was discussing in a podcast interview last week how we can choose which parts of our self we show to another person, or in a particular context – those are our boundaries and choices.
However, what is important is that we can be honest and authentic to ourselves about ALL the aspects of our SELF – the good, the shadow and everything in between.
Of course that is not necessarily easy as we have constructed emotional and physical frameworks to keep us away from those parts of us that feel scary and out of control.
But the journey to total acceptance IS the journey to truth and becoming unapologetically you.