Showing up as authentic requires courage and a willingness to make oneself vulnerable. It means letting our real selves be seen, almost like taking our psychological clothes off in public. People who practice authenticity create huge benefits for themselves and build more profound connections with others.
Authenticity was important for me when I wrote my book hoping it would affect others in an uplifting way. Readers asked me if I wasn’t afraid to admit weaknesses and failures in public. I told them that I wasn’t! I wanted my readers to see themselves in my stories. They could then resonate with the joys and pains which are an inevitable part of everybody’s life. But that I also wanted them to see that challenges can be overcome without breaking us.
I have spent a great deal of my life pretending I was someone else in order to fit in. Folks just couldn’t understand me, my personality, values, and spirit. By being a fake on the outside I started to collapse more and more on the inside. When I couldn’t remember anymore who I was, I crashed and had to reinvent myself.
This collapse of my old personality was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I had to become authentic in order to be able to live with myself. I had to be able to look in the mirror and tell myself all the wonderful things which I had hoped others would tell me. It was so hard at the beginning that I thought I would choke on my kindness to myself.
Yet it also felt like I was given a new fresh canvas! I could paint a picture of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to feel about myself. As a background I would use the basic structure of my personality. Over top of that I could now paint the real me: kind, caring, intelligent, fun-loving, playful, and so on. This basic rebuilding took ten years, one step forward, two steps back. Slowly a new picture emerged that I liked. But it is a never-ending process.
I also realized that I could survive without the approval of people around me. I would simply say “I bless you and I let you go!”. This made room for compatible friends and acquaintances to show up. Now I have a handful of trusted individuals who accept me as I am.
In closing I would like to say that we live in a in a world where fake news and fake people often get the limelight. Yet we need to ask ourselves what price we’re paying for playing roles. Then we can see that by being authentic, we are serving our own wellbeing. It does require courage and some soul searching but the empowering results are definitely worth the effort.
I invite you to read When Life Has Other Plans…Discover the Hidden Gifts!