A while back, when thinking about this journey I'm on, this phrase from Hamlet that my Dad always used when I was little popped into my head... "To thine own self be true."  This article, written by Dr. Irene Matthews, talks about the meaning of this statement as it relates to her target audience of verbally abused women.  I was stunned when I first found it at how, for obvious reasons, it spoke to me.

I had the occasion today to give the link to a friend and I went over and read it again.  Still amazes me how applicable to transition it is.  I think it's brilliant and worth posting here in its' entirety. Thanks, Dr. Irene.

“To thine own self be true…..”

Most of us are familiar with the above quote taking from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but how many of us know this verse: “And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou can not then be false to any man.” Unless we can be true to ourselves first, we cannot be true to others. 

To thine own self be true…..how profound.

How many of us have a hard time being true to ourselves? Those of us that gave our life to another at the cost of loosing who we are in the process will have a hard time being true to ourselves. Allowing someone else to define who we are, we lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly. We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie. For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is true takes time. Having done this very thing, I know how difficult the journey to self-discovery can be. 

Truth….truth is a word that brings out such negative reactions to many of us. You see truth is really an action word. You cannot accept truth without change. Accepting truth about ourselves is difficult, especially to those of us who have been abused. But truth does set one free if we will allow it to; it is a crucial part of healing. It gives us the freedom to be who we are. We are able to come to terms with our weakness (without condemnation) and appreciate our strength. Truth gives strength; it naturally builds healthy boundaries. Truth is open; it is honest even at the risk of being vulnerable again. Truth is light and brings forth life. When we walk in truth, we walk in light and when we walk in light we live a healthy life.

Truth is also love. The greatest act of love towards another is living a life that is truthful. For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, we will find it will come more easily when we walk in truth about who we are. If we walk in truth, we walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear. Because we have been honest with ourselves, we are able to love ourselves with all of our imperfections, knowing that we are in “process” and therefore need not have others approval. This is freedom indeed.

The second part of this verse is a natural occurrence if we hold true to the first part of the verse. So, when in doubt as to our motives of not being truthful with someone….look inside, are we being less than truthful to ourselves?

”This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”


Very nice link and a lovely sentiment.

I suppose I always hear those particular words bearing in mind their character source, which is Polonius, and the context of their delivery, which is part of a long winded exhortation to his son not to get in any trouble.

But as with all things Hamlet, the expression is beautiful and bears repeating.


Wow, would I ever like to share ideas about this. SO relevant.

Tasha, when I was little, my Dad used it in (somewhat) correct context. He wasn't trying to inspire me to be myself so much. I think I had told him a lie and this was part of the lecture back at me.

Very relevant, Diana. When I first came upon it, it was like it was written for transitioners.

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