This is an especially important teaching, and I find it really helpful. It’s one thing hearing someone say ‘Don’t tell lies’, but I feel like most of us have enough common sense to know that lying is generally pretty wrong.
But for me this teaching isn’t about saying it wasn’t you who ate the last chocolates from the family bag of M&Ms, or ticking the ‘I have read all the terms and conditions’ box before signing up to something…
It’s about just being open and honest about your true thoughts, your true feelings, your true self. Image is what makes the world tick, and we’re constantly bombarded with logos, adverts, and slogans. You now hear musicians and actors talking about their ‘brand’, and we’ve all heard how Instagram distorts how we see people due to the constant use of filters and photo-editing.
This is just how our world works. But even on a personal level, there seems to be this conflict between how we see ourselves, and how we want to portray ourselves to other people.
I barely use Instagram for anything other than my blog, but the few personal pictures I do have are either of me on holiday, or they’re try-hard-artsy photos of woods and sunlight shining through trees.
Now, am I always either on holiday or sat in a forest somewhere? No, that would be a pretty weird way to exist. They’re just part of an image of myself that I want people to see. I don’t post pictures of myself wearing the same Travis Scott hoodie for days on end as I spill cereal on myself yet again…that’s not how I want other people to see me.
The really liberating aspect of the Dalai Lama’s teaching on honesty, is that not only does it benefit those around you, because it means you don’t hide anything from them and this can build much stronger, more trusting relationships. But it also helps to align these two images we have of ourselves - how we see ourselves and how we want other people to see us.
This takes a huge weight off our shoulders, because it means we don’t have to think about looking cool or coming across in a particular way. This links back to yesterday’s post on cultivating a sincere motivation, in that the focus is no longer on impressing anyone. The focus is simply on being yourself.
So yes, celebrities might have a million advisors and managers and PR agents developing their brand, and ensuring they come across in exactly the right way. But the truth is, someone who is squeaky clean and ‘on-brand’ all the time is eventually going to get pretty boring.
Why not be unpredictable? Be ‘off-brand’ from time to time. Be yourself.
“I'm a puzzle
I'm a walking contradiction
And far from mint condition
'Cause there's pieces I can't find”
I’m a huge Luke Combs fan, and I was really disappointed when the Country2Country Festival got cancelled and I didn’t get the chance to see him live. That’s why it’s awesome that so many artists are doing live shows from their homes online, and his performance of a song he wrote recently about COVID-19, called ‘Six Feet Apart’, is amazing.
“At least I'm honest
I don't spin it like a record
And I ain't acting like I'm better
Than you know I really am”
Today’s song is Luke's ‘What You See Is What You Get’, and it hits the nail on the head in terms of the Dalai Lama’s teaching on honesty. Throughout the song he’s completely open about his flaws, and he’s self-deprecating in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, without putting himself down too much.
"With me ain't no tricks up these sleeves
An acquired taste, a constant work in progress”
I like the idea of someone being ‘an acquired taste’, because it shows how we’re all unique. And instead of trying to fit some mould, our individuality is something we should definitely embrace and be open about, because it’s crazy to think there’s literally nobody else on this planet that’s just like you, and that gets to see life through your eyes.
So while being honest about ourselves inevitably means revealing our flaws, it’s also about appreciating our strengths and giving ourselves credit where credit is due.
“I guess be careful what you wish for is all I meant when I said
‘What you see is what you get’”
Yes, embrace your flaws, but at the same time, embrace how amazing you are. You’re you, and nobody else is you. That in itself makes you one of a kind.