In the well-known play “Hamlet” written by William Shakespeare there is a character named Polonius. His role is to serve as counselor to King Claudius and although some people value his advice as wisdom, others focus on the fact that every judgement he made in the play was wrong.
As a parent, though I find his speech and blessing to his son, Laertes, who is departing for France, to be fascinating. One line, in particular is, I believe, important for all of us to consider.
“To thine own self be true” has a powerful meaning. It encourages us to do what we really believe is the right thing no matter what is happening.
Recently I met a woman who stated that she has been tormented by her situation. She moved to a new location after her husband died and, because she was so lonely and desperate to make friends, she began doing things that she previously would never consider doing. She had decided not to take the pandemic injections yet, lied about this because she feared being rejected. Then she lived in fear that she would be “found out”.
All of us have values and the problem is that when we betray our values, we become stressed
Think about your values. What happens when you highly value truth and then find yourself telling a lie. How do you feel? Do you lose sleep? Does your self-respect disappear?
What if you value life but then catch yourself being rude and disrespectful to others. Do you feel stressed because your ideas and behaviors don’t match?
How do you feel when you tell others that they need to take responsibility for what they have been given but then realize that you are doing things that jeopardize your health or neglect taking care of your bills and home?
It is often difficult to not blame others for our problems. You see, if we can point the finger at another person, we won’t have to face ourselves in the mirror or take action to rectify things.
The sad thing is that you can spend years building a good reputation and destroy it in one minute.
The good news is that you can start over. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Write down in detail exactly what you have done that you regret.
- Think about the people who have been hurt because of this (including yourself).
- Ask forgiveness of those who were hurt.
- Forgive yourself
- Make a plan to make positive choices in the future.
- Seek help from others who can encourage and guide you
- Treat every day as one important step forward
No matter how many mistakes Polonius made, I believe that he gave his son very good advice that we can all incorporate into our lives.
To thine own self be true”. (Starting right now).