Robin Williams, as Aladdin’s genie, advised his young master to “Be Yourself.” Okay, in that movie, it was obvious that Aladdin was not being himself; he was a pauper, disguised as a prince. In real life, our disguises are often less blatant. Physically, it can be impossible to detect when someone is living a lie. People in our life don’t know. But, we do.
How do you know when you are Being Yourself? And, more importantly, what does it matter? I mean, what’s the big deal?
Here is the big deal. In an amazingly intricate collision of art and science, you have manifested upon this earth. You. Chances were over a trillion to one that you made it. So, just existing is quite the miracle, in itself. (Actually, having the ability to read this is quite another miracle, but that’s for another column.)
Through your genetic make-up, you are born with areas of strength. Spiritually, one might think of these as gifts. In secular terms, these might translate into knowledge, skills, and abilities on a resume. We are also born with challenges. In religious terms, one might see these as tests or lessons. In the job market, we speak of these as cultivating resiliency or adaptability.
But, it’s all the same thing. We are born with strengths and challenges. Our strengths offer us ways to flourish and our challenges offer us ways to grow. We hold the power to decide how and when to use these.
The problem in life emerges when we begin to give away that power. If you are unsure about whether or not to do something, ask yourself, “What is my motivation? For whom am I doing this, and why? Am I doing it to be nice to someone, gain someone’s approval, or get someone off my back? Am I doing it because I’m afraid of doing something else or to avoid a threat? Am I doing it for money? Am I doing it for the attention I’ll get—that sweet ego rush? Am I doing it because I’ve always done it, and I don’t know what else to do?
Or, am I doing it because I know it is the right thing to do? I don’t know why. I just know.
Martha Beck, Life Coach and lecturer, describes this experience as “shackles on” or “shackles off.” When we are doing something, does the activity feel like we are wearing shackles? Do we feel imprisoned or forced to do something, whether by guilt, obligation or fear? Or, do we feel liberated by the activity—free of shackles… free!
Ellen Tadd, regional psychic, suggests a simpler test. When making a decision, ask yourself: Is it a Bing or a Thud? Should I go to the concert with that person? Should I take that job? Do I love them? Does this feel like a bing or a thud? After you ask the question, wait silently and patiently. The answer often emerges as a feeling, body sensation, or image. And, it is pretty clear.
This thing—this knowing, shackles off bing thing– is our Intuition. It is the heart of what matters and our inner guide. Unfortunately, it’s acquired a rather Norma Jean- Marilyn Monroe kind of reputation in our Western world.
Carolyn Myss, renowned medical intuitive , says that the ludicrous question people ask her is, “How can I become intuitive?” She replies that everyone—all the time—is intuitive. Intuition is simply the right brain’s way of communicating. The right hemisphere processes non-verbally, unlike its left counterpart. It communicates in other ways: imagistic ally, emotionally, symbolically, musically, and somatically—with sensations. The right hemisphere also transmits “global” information, receiving unconscious or subconscious messages. These are experienced as coincidence or serendipity. We also name this psychic phenomenon. Truth is, it’s pretty garden variety neural activity, when you think of it as simply which side of the brain we are paying attention to. Turns out, we are transmitting and receiving intuitive information, all the time.
The secret to Being Yourself is not in listening to our intuitive messages. Well, that’s not completely true. We do have to shut up every now and again and calm “Lefty”—that nutty, Monkey Mind. And, in our whole brains, we allow a shift from hyper-focused and narrow-minded Beta waves to the calmer, open-minded, problem-solving Alpha mode. This is simple enough. It involves breathing deeply and being present. Oh, yes, and turning off the 37 technological distractions in your room, pockets, and hand.
Intuition is polite. It is a subtle, quiet, patient energy. It will wait until you are done obsessing, judging, rationalizing, projecting, deflecting, avoiding… and texting. In fact, it must wait. It’s like a guppy vying for food in a sea of piranhas. Sweet intuition needs time and space to emerge—a shy wise child, of sorts. It needs you to be quiet, so it can be heard.
And, who nowadays likes to shut the hell up? In the land of Interrupting (longest pause in between sentences is an excruciating 6 seconds), who has time to sit patiently and listen for intuition?
Ahh, but Intuition is everything. It is our path. It is the Being Yourself. So, there is the Catch-22; we have to quiet our crazybusy lives to hear our Intuition. And, no one has the patience or dedication to do it.
But… sometimes Intuition is less than polite. Sometimes, it can be quite persistent. Sometimes we know when we are drawn, called, needing to do something, make some change, talk to someone, etc—and we put it off. By avoiding the message, we believe it will go away.
It does not go away. If you’re lucky, it cowers in the corner. But, some people’s Intuition is more “persuasive” than that. Some people’s Intuition gets rather right in your face—it will ring in your ears—like psychic Tinnitus or spiritual Schizophrenia. The message persists until you turn to face it, lean in and listen. If you persist in resistance, it often manifests in a physical message—pain or disease—in an effort to wake you up. Intuition wants to be not just heard, but acted upon. Resisting it means transforming the energy into a negative form, as intensely as you have received it.
The “message” is often symbolic—if someone is a “pain in your neck,” you grow muscle spasms in your neck and shoulders. If something is a burden to you, you may suffer lower back pain. If you feel “torn” between several commitments, you might tear a tendon… intuitive messages are fascinating, in this way.
Symbols might appear outside of your body and often through patterns. One hears the same song repeatedly on the radio. One is constantly reminded of a person, place or thing. Or, a color might become intensely attractive to you. Do you “see red” everywhere? What are you angry about?
Are there times when you “need to get away from it all?” Do you awake humming some tune that you can’t get out of your head? Do you get cravings to see a certain movie? Do three people recommend the same book to you? Do you think about someone, only to bump into them or receive a call, out of the blue? This is intuition working its ordinary magic.
The secret to being you is not in listening to your intuition. The secret—the hard part and madness– is in the acting upon it.
Do yourself a favor. Shut up, and listen.
You know you want to.