“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” C.G. Jung
“This above all:
To thine own self be true.” Shakespeare
Life gives us many challenges and tasks.
We learn to crawl, then to walk, and then, to run. We learn to attach emotionally to another. We learn to trust. We learn about limits, defeats … and loss. We learn to let go. We learn to study, work hard, compete and achieve.
I believe that there is another developmental task that we need to achieve.
It is the ability to find one’s true inner voice.
The ability to feel that one is authentic, that one has a core; that there is a person, behind one’s eyes and within one’s heart, that feels real.
The search for one’s true inner voice is a universal search shared by all around you. “If you don’t know who you truly are, you’ll never know what you really want,” wrote Roy T. Bennett.
Yet, where will you find your true inner voice? There is no right place or one true path, nor will it be the same voice for everyone.
Some will find their authentic inner voice in the ongoing care of their children. Others will find their voice in the sweet harmony of a Sunday choir, a prelude and an earthly audition for a more Heavenly Choir someday.
Some will find their voices in the creative process. The past masters of art and crafts show us where their voices have brought them. And where to go. “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to,” Jean-Luc Goddard told us.
In the shared joyful shouts and the muffled moans, one may find a voice in a communal sporting event.
Others will find their inner voice in the care of the broken, the lonely, the sad and the abandoned. They will find their voice is a soothing, caring one. And it may also empower others to find their own voices.
Finding one’s authentic sense of self and one’s true inner voice is a journey waiting at many stages of life. There is no right time. One cannot be too early or too late.
One may have to go through many life experiences and many emotional feelings, before one finds one’s true inner voice. We may need to go through both successes and failures, depression and anger before we find the right sound inside us.
W. H. Auden knew this when he wrote:
We would rather be ruined than changed.
We would rather die in our dread.
Then climb the cross of the present
And let our illusions die.
In the ashes of your illusions, listen to the sound within you that arises. It is your authentic self, your true inner voice, the one you earned … and deserve.
A BRIEF NOTE: This month marks the third-year anniversary and number 155 of this online mental health column for the Knoxville News Sentinel. It has been a privilege to share my lifelong love of psychology, as a disciple and clinical profession. A special thanks to the newspaper’s editor, Jack McElroy, a talented and dedicated journalist, whose own true inner voice makes our community so much better because of his love of and respect for the First Amendment.
Philip Kronk, M.S., Ph.D. is a semi-retired Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Neuropsychologist. Dr. Kronk has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and a post-doctoral degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology (the use of drugs to treat mental disorders.) His year-long internship in Clinical Psychology was served at the University of Colorado Medical School. Dr. Kronk writes a weekly, online column for the Knoxville News Sentinel’s website, knoxnews.com. He can be reached at (865) 330-3633.