The Powerful Truth of You

don Miguel Ruiz and Barbara EmrysJuly 24, 2022Who Am I?PerSpectives

Artwork by Arina Stetsiuk, age 13

“Who am I?” You probably never considered such a question when you were little.

don Miguel Ruiz. Photo by Aaron Landman.

You just were. You saw things, you felt things, and you reacted to things. Every day was about living . . . just living. You might still remember how, as a small child, you were more connected to life than to a particular image of yourself.

And here you are today. You’re not really a child anymore, but you’re full of youthful energy. Your days are full, and you’re way too busy to consider life’s deeper questions. There’s so much other stuff to think about. There’s all the school stuff, the after-school stuff, and the what-to-do-on-vacation stuff.

You have friends and family to think about, too. You’ve got your social status and your online profiles. Maybe you‘ve got romantic worries, or a broken heart to mend. You’ve certainly got more pressing questions on your mind. Should I answer this text? Should I join that club? What should I feel? How do I look? Why should I care?

Maybe you’re already checking out colleges, or imagining the perfect career. Whatever your reality looks like these days, there’s enough to deal with. It’s a challenge to find your place in the outside world. The inside world should just take care of itself!

“Who am I?” is a deep question, and requires time for introspection. Still, you’re the only one who can answer it. You, and you alone, have the power to decide who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world.

Barbara Emrys

The first step is to be clear about who you are not.

You’re not the person people say you are. How can you be? Every person sees you differently. Every person sees you through certain filters. They have their own beliefs, and they judge everything (and everyone) according to those beliefs. Your brain works one way. Their brains work in different ways. Everyone comes to conclusions differently and for different reasons. Those are important things to remember.

And remember this: you’re not who you say you are, either. How can you be? The image you have of yourself has been imposed on you by many people. Over the years, you’ve taken their opinions and expectations, and you’ve fashioned them into an idea of yourself that has little to do with the truth.

Like everybody, you grew up trying to meet the expectations of people around you. You were born to mimic, to learn to be human according to your family’s ways and traditions. Every newborn creature is born with the same instinct. Do as your elders do, and you’ll survive! We all learn by imitation.

In the process, we learn to play different roles in life. Eventually, we settle into the character we think we are, believing it’s the truth of us. That character directs our decisions and behaviors. “I am this kind of person, committed to this purpose,” we tell ourselves. And we tell the same story to everyone we meet. We feel safer thinking we know who we are.

You may believe you’re the rebellious one, the moody one, or the peacemaker. You’ve probably already decided you’re an introvert, or an extravert. Maybe you’re the class clown . . . or the cheerleader . . . or the wallflower. You might see yourself as a jock or a nerd, a hero or a victim. Whatever the case, these are just opinions, and most of your opinions were informed by other people’s beliefs about you. What they believed, you believed.

Behavior follows belief, but any belief can be modified. If you challenge your own opinions, you can separate truth from nonsense. If you take the time to listen to what you think and say, you can be more honest with yourself . . . and honesty changes everything.

Be willing to explore the amazing mystery of you. Don’t try to avoid self-reflection. Don’t keep secrets from yourself. Learn to respect the unique human being you are, without judgment. As a result, you'll become immune to the judgments of others.

You may think you are this kind of person, or that kind of person, but you’re not your thoughts. Thoughts aren’t real, and neither are the roles you play. The person you imagine yourself to be is the main character of a fictional story. The voice in your head is the voice of that character, nothing more.

Keep this in mind: you can choose to put your faith in that voice, with all its opinions, or you can put your faith in the astonishing truth of you. You were born to be an expression of the truth, an exact copy of life. When you arrived into this world, you had no stories in your head, no beliefs, no judgments. You didn’t need an opinion to tell you who you were or what you loved.

Have you noticed how everyone responds to a baby with joy and wonder? People are in awe of authenticity. People will always respond more generously to your authenticity than to your role-playing.

Answering the question “Who am I?” is a beautiful exercise in integrity and inspiration. Soon enough, you’ll realize you’re the rush of energy that makes all thought possible — that makes human imagination possible. That same energy makes your body work, just as it makes the universe work. You are the creative force of life. You’re also the one in charge of your evolution as a person. Love your creation. Love the masterpiece you are, as well as the masterpiece you’re becoming. You can leave the judging to others. From now on, you’ve got better things to do. Along with the school stuff and the relationship stuff, you’re busy uncovering your authenticity. You’re busy peeling away layers of pretense, and letting life in. You’re busy creating a rich and wonderful world for yourself — a world that’s not based on an image, but on the powerful truth of you.

Don Miguel Ruiz is the international bestselling author of a series of books including The Four Agreements (over a decade on the New York Times bestseller list and the 36th bestselling book of the decade). He has dedicated his life to sharing the wisdom of the ancient Toltec through his books, lectures, and journeys to sacred sites around the world. Other books include: The Mastery of Love, The Voice of Knowledge, Prayers, Beyond Fear, and The Fifth Agreement, a collaboration with his son don Jose Ruiz. Don Miguel is highly respected throughout the world. He has received numerous recognitions, including a US Air Force challenge coin engraved with The Four Agreements, and he is referenced as a National Heirloom of Mexico. Born in France as the child of an American diplomat, Barbara Emrys grew up in parts of Europe, Africa, and the West Indies. She has enjoyed a career as an actress on television, stage and film, as well as a co-producer of independent movies. Twenty-five years ago, she met don Miguel Ruiz and began an apprenticeship with him. Her shamanic training, as well as many years of work as a teacher of Toltec Dreaming, have given Barbara unique insights into human behavior and an artistic approach to life. Her collaborations with don Miguel, in the classroom and in their writing, are a continual source of inspiration. The two have published several books together, including The Toltec Art of Life and Death, The Three Questions, and the series The Mystery School. Barbara has also written her own illuminating novels, including one based on her own experiences as a teenager living in Africa, titled The Red Clay of Burundi. She has other literary projects in development, a monthly teleclass, and looks forward to finding more ways to share and inspire.