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It’s always so easy to highlight the good parts of our life. It just feels so good to talk about the successes, about the things you’re proud of and what you’re amazingly happy about. We all aspire to live a perfect, successful and happy life and it’s those ‘better’ parts of our life we like to share with the outside world. Talking about our failures and things we feel ashamed of is something that doesn’t feel right. And that’s why we often don’t talk about it at all, but bottle it up in the shadow-side of our brains instead. We ALL have done, said or thought things we’re highly ashamed about, so why shouldn’t we be more open about it?

BEING HONEST ALL THE TIME IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT.
BUT IT’S YOUR FLAWS THAT MAKE YOU AUTHENTIC, SO YOU BETTER USE THEM.

Michel de Montaigne, a French philosopher who lived during the Renaissance, can teach us a lot about transparency. He devoted his writing career to examine only one subject: himself. In his masterpiece, The Essays, he explores exactly who he is, without any restriction. He wasn’t afraid to talk in detail about things like sex, penises, farts, smelly bodies or shitting and he talked about these subjects in a way that would still be quite shocking today. What makes his work even more special is the fact that Montaigne presents himself as a real and genuine person. Someone you and I could identify ourselves with.

“Every movement reveals us.” – Michel de Montaigne

Montaigne gave the reader a very personal view into his private life, his doubts and his quirks. This transparency in his philosophical writings led him to some profound lessons that are still very helpful today, 450 years later. By describing that a ‘noble person’ is just another human being with a lot of luck, brains and/or money, but still a body that’s closely related to an animal, he relieves us from the insecurities about ourselves. As he said himself ‘Kings and philosophers shit, and so do ladies’.

Inspired by Montaigne’s writings, I’d like to show you three things that transparency can bring you:

1. The notion that we’re all equally human. Even the people who you amazingly admire (this could be a great writer, a celebrity that inspires you, a teacher, therapist, family member, etc.) are just human beings in the end. Some people tend to be very nervous to speak in front of a group of people, but imaging the group in their underwear can often shake off most of the nerves. Want to know why? Because it reveals our equality. Underneath it all; our clothes, our masques, our (fake) identities, we’re equally human. We all pee and shit. We all get pimples every now and then (and often at the most unhandy times). Oprah once told in an interview, that most of her guests, no matter how famous or rich, asked her at the end of a show: “was that OK, did I do OK?” We’re all insecure and without exception, we want to know, am I OK?

2. More self-acceptance. Once you become fully honest to yourself, you feel so relieved. Truly, the only way to accept yourself is to say YES wholeheartedly to yourself. Don’t lie to yourself (and yes, you know you do sometimes, I do it too). Make a big confession sheet for yourself. Write down all the shameful things about you, some characteristics, stupid actions or even cruel actions, weird thoughts or weird habits. Start every sentence with YES.

Acceptance comes first. Only in full acceptance change can happen, so let’s get very honest.

YES, I am a bit of an obsessive control freak. YES, I sometimes change my mind at two to twelve just because it doesn’t feel right. YES, I can get very angry, like the ugly-and-yelling kind of angry. YES, sometimes I’m worrying and panicking about things I won’t be able to change. YES, I feel awkward in posh restaurants because I am a difficult eater. YES, I feel uncomfortable around certain social etiquette, like shaking hands to congratulate someone or giving (this is typically Dutch) three kisses on the cheek as a greeting. YES, I feel insecure about my character. YES, I always wonder; am I OK?

Breathe out. This is YOUR list. Make it as short or as long as you want. Whatever feels right. You have flaws. We all have, it’s what makes us authentic. Perfection is boring.

3. More unexpected compliments, praise, friends, deals, jobs, money and general LOVE. All the world needs, is you. Once you let go of that voice in your head whispering ‘is this normal or is this too weird to mention’ and just speak up and be honest, unexpected miracles are VERY likely to happen. Most friendships are built upon mutual quirks. Same goes for love. And even in your career, a down to earth and honest attitude can probably bring you much further than when you try to adjust fully to the vibe and habits of your surroundings. You are most talented at being yourself. Now, I don’t mean you can say anything to anyone (criticising other people all the time because of their behaviour, opinions, or character can become a bit tiring), but when you talk about yourself,  you actually can say anything to anyone, most of the time. The more you show yourself, through what you (dare to) say, wear or do, the more love of the right people you’ll get. Yes, you’ll lose some friends along the way, but that’s OK. We all follow our own path in life and it’s only natural that things fall apart sometimes. Don’t try to force anything. You’re OK.

“On the highest throne in the world, we are seated, still, upon our arses.” – Michel de Montaigne

Don’t think you’re less than anyone, or not good enough. Don’t think you need to get better, nicer or smarter before you can do what you secretly wish to do. Just give it a go, that’s what all successful people do. Are you willing to do as much as it takes?

Once you stop worrying about yourself, the blurriness of your personality disappears. Don’t let your fears hold you back, we’re all fearful. Bring your shames out of the shadow into the light. Shine like you never thought you could.
Open up.

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Speaking about transparency… Sometimes the things you don’t need are the things you most want. I bought myself a ring last week, for no reason other than because I really wanted to buy it. Not everything needs to have a reason. If it feels good, it is good.  

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Do you see yourself as an open and transparent person? How can you be a little bit more ‘you’ this week? Think of things you could wear or slight changes in your behaviour. Keep on practicing and keep opening yourself more. Have trust.

Showing 6 comments
  • Eva
    Reply

    Really enjoy your blogs, thank you for writing!

    • Linde
      Linde
      Reply

      Eva! Thank you SO MUCH!! XO

  • Karin
    Reply

    Ha Linde, dank je wel voor weer een mooi stukje!
    Ik las laatst een boek, waarvan ik dacht dat het een luchtig soap-achtig verhaal zou zijn, maar het bleek vol met inzichten te staan over wat jij hier noemt: de dingen die we over het algemeen nooit hardop zeggen, zelfs bijna niet durven denken. Het boek zette mij echt aan het denken en gaf het me meer ruimte om mijn “schaamtevolle” gedachtekronkels toe te laten en te accepteren dat ze er net zo goed bij horen als mijn verheven gedachtekronkels. Want juist die ‘schaamtevolle’ gedachten van de personen in het boek, maakte hen tot echte, authentieke personages. Ik ben er dol op als een boek me zo onverwacht inzicht geeft. De titel? ‘Het geheim van mijn man’ van Liane Moriarty (oorspronkelijke titel ‘The husband’s secret’)

    • Linde
      Linde
      Reply

      Bedankt voor je leuke reactie Karin! Dat boek wat jij nu beschrijft, sluit inderdaad helemaal aan bij dit onderwerp en bij wat Michel de Montaigne in de 16e eeuw ook aankaartte. Juist nu ook, in een tijd waarin schijnbaar perfecte ‘Facebook-identiteiten’ ons onzeker maken over onszelf en onze gekkigheden, hebben we die transparantie en openheid nodig! Ik ga het boek meteen opzoeken want ik denk dat zo’n in eerste instantie ‘luchtig en makkelijk’ boek net zoveel inzicht kan geven als de ‘hogere’ literatuur. Wat goed dat jijzelf ook die openheid vond om toch het boek te lezen en er zo zelfs een wijze les uit te kunnen halen! Dat vond de filosoof Michel de Montaigne zelf ook trouwens; nieuwe inzichten zijn ALTIJD nuttig, ongeacht de bron. So read and learn on! XO

  • Margreeth
    Reply

    Hey Linde, je geeft ons weer iets moois om over na te denken! dank je wel. Ik heb mezelf altijd als een heel openhartig iemand gezien naar mijn vrienden toe, maar ik ga me nu wel afvragen in hoeverre dat nog zo is! heel fijne overdenking.

    • Linde
      Linde
      Reply

      Thanks Margreeth voor je reactie! Wat leuk dat het jou doet heroverwegen hoe openhartig je nou precies bent. Ik heb zelf ook altijd het idee dat ik toch wel heel goed weet hoe ik in elkaar zit, maar soms blijkt het toch heel anders te zitten…! Vooroordelen (ook over onszelf) ontstaan snel en vaak onbewust, dus elkaar en onszelf scherp houden is altijd goed: once again, be proud of your doubt! XO

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