When I am asked for guidance in spiritual matters, the primary and most crucial advice I can give is to know yourself. Everything else can grow from your understanding of who you are. When I started my own spiritual journey, I had a strong sense of identity but found it difficult to reconcile the different parts of who I was into a single cohesive whole. And its hard isn't it. How many hats do you wear? Balancing the different roles we have to fulfill can be a mine field. I'm a wife, witch, bank manager, daughter, friend, aunt, spiritual counsellor, romantic novelist...the list goes on. And I found that although I understood each of the parts that made me up, I didn't initially see how they could harmonise together and enable me to move smoothly from one hat to another without feeling I was playing a part or acting to the gallery.
So I had to excavate beyond the surface of each of my hats and find the common ground, the core elements that remained consistent in whatever situation I was in and whatever hat I was wearing. It takes a lot of self honesty to look at yourself in a critical light, evaluate your strengths and hidden weaknesses and understand yourself as a person beyond every layer of self protection that we all wear as our personal suit of armour. But under all those layers is a truth, your truth and in my case, my truth. And those integral elements of who we are allow us to understand the person behind the hats. Once I discovered that, the hats became easier to wear, it didn't feel like an identity exchange, just focusing on a different aspect of myself for the situation at hand. And because I started to understand my own personality I learned what I could compromise on and what it was crucial to stick fast to at all cost. And in learning this, I achieved an integration of my discordant parts and a unity of the different aspects of my personality.
The hardest part of my journey was sharing this honest and unified personality with other people. I've always been rather content to be written off as a bit superficial, its suited me very well over the years to be honest. I'm a bit ambivalent about sharing personal things with other people. But the next stage of my journey is taking me further down a path of spiritual direction and supporting others and I can't follow that path unless I can demonstrate the self honesty that I am promoting to other people.
And its important for those who come to ask me for advice and guidance that you know I'm not a cardboard cut out quoting excerpts from the Wikipedia. Its important for you to identify me as someone who has had their own ups and downs and struggled with their own journey and their own spiritual path at times. My advice wouldn't be worth having if you didn't know that I've been where you are now and worked out a way to go forward.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1395333 (Xmeltrut)
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