Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

The Joys and Challenges of Being True to Yourself

Stress Alarm Katie

I love this quote from author Byron Katie, as it reminds us that the roots of stress may run deeply into the very core of our being.

Responding effectively to stress involves more than simply learning a relaxation technique.  In fact, you may never consistently practice what you’ve learned if stress has intertwined itself fully into your everyday persona.  You may resist letting go of all the tension for fear of facing yourself – blemishes included.

What deeply held beliefs have you caught in the web of stress?

  •   Perfectionism?
  •   Low Self-Esteem?
  •   The need to be right?
  •   A lack of deep self-acceptance?
  •   The tendency to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
  •   A belief you’re unlovable?
  •   The desire for external validation?
  •   Fear of the unknown?
  •   Arrogance or pride that forces you to do more, be more, acquire more?
  •   Comparing yourself to others?
  •  Wanting what others have whether it be material items, status, or success?

Take a minute now and jot down whatever immediately comes to mind.  Then give this question a few days on the back burner to see what else emerges.  Your final list will represent personal stepping stones to a more content and spacious way of being.

Stress:  An Important Warning Sign

As Byron Katie suggests, stress can serve as an important warning sign.  The sooner you pay attention, the better off you’ll be.  When stress starts to mount, take a moment and ask yourself:

“What’s not true for me right now?”

Then consider what and how you can adjust.  For example:

  • Do you need to counter a false belief with a positive affirmation?
  • Do you need to change a behavior?  For example, do you need to pull back from doing too much?
  • Would it help to invoke the relaxation response by engaging in a stress reduction technique?
  • Do you need more quiet time?

Connect with Your Natural Intelligence

At the same time, let’s try to hold Katie’s question lightly.  Let’s not become too rigid about everything fitting neatly into a preconceived happiness package that is likely, one day, to fall apart at the seams.

After all, who is this ‘self’ that we are to be true to?  Is it merely our likes and dislikes?  Our transitory thoughts, emotions, and sensations?  Is it the projections of our mind or is there a more enduring essence of mind?

If you allow your mind to settle and remain quiet for a while, you’ll find there’s a natural intelligence that lies behind your ever-changing mind states.  This is your true nature, who wants to guide you toward wholeness, goodness, and truth.  This inner wisdom will discern between what is beneficial for your well-being and what is harmful.  But this discernment is much larger than our ego-based likes and dislikes, which keep us cycling in tension and discontentment.

Take some time to be quiet, open, and receptive.  Allow your ordinary mind to settle so deeper insight and wisdom can arise.

Be Patient

Like a seed that first becomes a shoot and then takes years to become a fully grown, fruit-bearing tree, it’s not possible to be true to yourself 100% of the time.  Life is the practice of learning to align with your true self.

Self-acceptance will help you relax in the gap between who you are now and who you would like to become.  You can decide to enjoy the journey and not be overwrought by any of the patterns you’ve noted in the above exercise.  No one is perfect!  We’re all in the process of becoming unstuck.

When you fully accept yourself and align with your basic goodness and natural awareness rather than thoughts, emotions, and sensations, life is brighter and stress naturally begins to dissolve.

In my Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Dissolve Stress e-course, we explore these deeper patterns while also learning effective mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques.  You can begin the journey whenever your wish as this is a well-structured self-study course.

Are you attached to something that’s not true for you?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

I’m so glad you’re here! If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe for free updates by email. With love, Sandra


The Best of Always Well Within 2013


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  1. Hi Sandra, this is truly a lovely piece to start the year too and I agree with you on that quote, very profound.

    Wishing you a lovely new year!

    Amit x

    • So nice to see you, Amit! Thanks for your kind words. Yes, isn’t that quote a perfect dividing line! Wishing you a beautiful year too.

  2. Hi Sandra,
    while I agree with you that stress creeps within, without us being really realising that it may mount, I am a bit hazy about accepting our innate ‘goodness and natural awareness rather than thoughts and emotions’.
    Goodness is very much a part of our thoughts and emotions. Thoughts may allure us into the sea of negativity but emotions? They are very basic to your persona, they don’t lie, they can never be negative and they respond to stress immediately. Without emotions we would be nowhere as stress reveals itself to us through emotions.
    I believe if we are true to ourself and our emotions, stress eases itself. Strange that we possess an immense energy and capacity to handle our stress so well, ONLY IF we are true to ourself!
    Thanks, Sandra, for sharing such philosophical views!!

    • Dear Balroop,

      I love when you disagree with me! But, I don’t think we disagree entirely. I’m not suggesting that we suppress our emotions. Yes, we need to be aware of them and they can be guides for us. But let’s not follow them up with lots more emotions on the same topic. That’s what makes us feel in emotional turmoil and more stressed.

      As for thoughts, they will come no matter what. But, I don’t think we need them as much as we imagine. We can operate quite simply and beautifully with far fewer thoughts.

      In any case, most of us are from from resting in our true nature so using our thoughts and emotions in a positive way can be an important part of our personal growth. So in the end I don’t think we are so far apart!

      As always I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  3. Jean Sampson

    I love the idea that, although I am not always true to myself (we reforming people -pleasers have a problem with that!) I have that as an intention as I continue on this unpredictable journey called life. Now, instead of beating myself up for not living up to that standard, I sympathetically ask why I was not able to say what my truth was and tell myself that I did just fine and maybe next time I WILL be able to with a little help from myself 🙂 And maybe not! 🙂 Hope that came out clearly. One of the things that we Southern women deal with is trying to never hurt someone or embarrass them and sometimes we just sit on something someone else might feel ok saying. A lot of our actions are just culturally determined!

    • There’s so much practical wisdom in what you’ve shared, Jean. You are so right! We don’t have to take this all too seriously and become too intense about getting it perfect. I just love your sense of self acceptance and self understanding. If we can just relax about our self-improvement that will be so good too!

  4. Hi Sandra,

    “Self-acceptance will help you relax in the gap between who you are now and who you would like to become.”

    I love this assertion. Being OK with ourselves on a deep level exposes the dissonance – the disconnect between how we feel about ourselves and what we permit that doesn’t line up with that. When we expose it to the light of day, it becomes much easier to gracefully set it aside. Great post!


    • Thank you, Larry. I thought that was a very important line in the post and so I’m so glad it struck a chord for you. I love the phrase “gracefully set it aside.” If we can approach change in that manner it will be far easier and more enjoyable. Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. hi Sandra – I’ve had a lot less stress in the past year because I’ve removed many stress-causing factors out of my life. I’m not sure if I’m in complete denial and facing a false reality or living more consciously 🙂 Is removing the stress-causing situations and people from your life, running away from your present reality or smart?

    I’ve been able to go there by knowing myself better (this natural intelligence you refer to) The more I know what stresses me out, the less I interact with those situations, agencies, courts, pets, judges, wardens (long story), elephant trainers (longer story), foreign diplomats, tv, reality tv stars, and more.

    • That’s an excellent question, Vishnu. The response is very individual isn’t it? It depends on the state of your physical and mental health and your personal stress threshold. If you are very depleted you may need to take refuge away from stressful situations for a while to build your reserves. Plus, some people are more susceptible to stress than others and need to be more cognizant of this fact.

      On the other hand, avoiding stressful situations can cause us more stress if we are constantly in fear of bumping into them again. Avoidance isn’t necessarily healthy either.

      When we build our resilience through learning stress reduction techniques, mindfulness, and compassion, we may be able to handle more difficult situations with greater ease so they aren’t so stressful.

      Yes, you really do need to watch out especially for the elephant trainers and the reality tv stars. 🙂

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