In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” That’s far easier said than lived by. What I say or do defines me, my most authentic self, my truth. What is my truth in the bigger picture?
In the cultural lexicon, Oprah Winfrey said, “Speak your truth.” What is our truth? Not asking about the truth, if there is such a singular distinction. In context, our truth can be our unique perspective, our distinguishing life narrative. Just saying.
Retired 3-time NBA Champion Dwyane Wade discussed his 12-year-old transgender daughter Zaya coming out with Ellen DeGeneres on her show. Dwyane described what Zaya said:
I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth and I want to be referenced as she and her. I would love for your guys to call me Zaya.
Zaya was born as Zion. Zaya’s truth is being Dwyane’s transgender daughter. Dwyane shares in Zaya’s truth, as well. Nothing but mad love and respect for them.
Speaking your truth to the world can be scary. What if the world doesn’t love you back? What if no one loves you for who you are? Speaking our truth is the risk. Yet, speaking our truth, regardless of circumstance or judgment, is freedom.
My hero is the late Fred Rogers of the beloved PBS TV series, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”. In delivering one of his final university commencement speeches before he passed away, Fred said, “You don’t have to do anything sensational to be loved.” We all deserve to be loved for who we are. Amen.
Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, the Highest Paid Movie Star on Planet Earth, said “The most powerful thing we can be is ourselves.” The Rock would know. He’s the 6′ 5″, 270 pound former professional World Champion Wrestler making Hollywood blockbuster movies like “Hobbs and Shaw” and “Jumanji”.
I’m working on being as authentic as I can be. I grind it out to work toward my greater-than version of myself. In the aftermath of my abusive childhood, I relentlessly hated on me. That voice in my head constantly said, “I’m no good.” Working with my therapist, Lance, I got that was my Dad’s voice when I was a little boy. Dad inherited that voice from his dad, who had abused him far worse, too: the tragic generational legacy of abusive parents.
Grinding it out, I hated on me a lot less. I couldn’t just love and forgive myself from zero. I took my baby steps, practicing kindness for myself. I forgave my mistakes, my imperfections. I practiced making the unnatural, natural. Cheryl reminded, “Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.” Amen.
That voice in my head transformed from “I’m no good” to “I’m okay”. My truth emerged: Love and forgive thine own self.
For over 25 years, Mizukami Sensei taught me Aikido. More importantly, Sensei taught me what it is to be a good man. He created the space to invent my greater-than versions. I was free to be me. Amen. Amen.
Sensei generously raised me up to his level. One morning in Aikido practice, he said, “Jon, you’re a better teacher than me.” I got it. I was grateful. That became my truth, too.
Love and forgive thine own self. Love yourself for who you are, and forgive yourself for who you’re not. Have compassion for others and for yourself. Have as much fun as you can for as long as you can. Leave the world greater than when you came into it.
My truth continues to evolve as I do. Just saying.
What’s your truth? Just asking. The world is waiting to listen. Just saying.
Whatever your sphere of influence, be authentic as you can be, and make a difference for others.
Train like you’re LeBron James and continue to work on your greater-than version.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please support our mission and join us as a Premium Member.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock