A Life Lived Authentically
I have thought about authenticity so deeply in reflecting on myself. I have really fought to understand what I am feeling in moments where I am feeling safe to be authentic and what I am feeling in moments where I close some or all of myself off. I have really tried to understand the environments that bring out the vulnerability that is necessary for true authenticity and I have certainly tried to understand which environments shut me down. What I am starting to understand is that true authenticity should not be determined by how safe we feel in an environment. True authenticity is the sharing of oneself for oneself, not the sharing of oneself for others. This is a painful realization for me that has set me back a bit on my own authenticity journey. If you have heard me speak in person, you would be surprised to hear that I am struggling with authenticity. Transparent, vulnerable and authentic are the most commonly used adjectives to describe me as a speaker. Through my journey inward this year I have realized there is a reason for this. I am safe on stage, safe sharing my story to a large audience of strangers and safe because when I am speaking, I am sharing stories of hard times and the lessons I learned from them long after the hard time has passed.
I have found a safe place for my authenticity on the stage talking to strangers. I have even found a safe place for my authenticity as a leader of my team and I have certainly found a safe place for my authenticity in this tribe, in these blogs and in the daily texts. Where I continue to stumble with authenticity is in my most intimate of relationships. I have really had to explore this in myself this year. I have had to take some hard looks at how authentic or not I was being with the people that I am closest to. And after a lot of journaling about the moments when I was not sharing myself, I have realized that the reason I am struggling to share myself in my intimate relationships is because I struggle to share myself in the middle of the hard times if I haven’t yet discovered the lesson in it. I learn something from every bump, every success, everything that happens to me. It’s one of my life hacks. I am great at finding moments for self-reflections to get me through hard times. I am not good at sharing those self-reflections with others until the hard times are in my rear-view mirror. I do not feel safe being authentic with my journey until I have a full understanding and control of what the journey taught me. It’s great to share your lessons and I am grateful for the platforms to do it but because I am struggling with vulnerability and authenticity in my most intimate relationships, I often take on hard times alone, in silence and I often struggle to ask for help. I have gotten comfortable communicating once I have the answers. I have locked off the piece of me that feels comfortable communicating the confusion I am experiencing. I especially have a difficult time communicating to people I am close to.
This journey to understand the gaps in my authenticity has led to me to discover a piece of myself that I have hidden away for some time. It’s hard for me to pin point the catalyst and I am unsure if there is one relationship or incident that taught me to shut down. I am beginning to believe it is a series of relationships, events, interactions and my natural instinct to be the fixer not the one who gets fixed. It’s all coming together in a way that overtime has slowly required me to hide from the intimacy of letting someone in on the journey to learn lesson instead of letting them in on the lesson itself. It’s not my authentic self to not share my journey no matter the stage so I seek to fix this for myself one conversation at a time. Certainly, during this time in my life when I am transitioning in so many ways in my professional and personal life, I am unable to continue to try to understand the “why’s” all alone as I have become accustomed to. I am committing to let others help me explore and find the deep understandings in life. I have some real inner work to do here and it is not easy. The reason I have not done this yet, is because I have taught myself that to do so is unsafe. That’s the lesson of authenticity I am uncovering. If you want to live authentically, your safety will be jeopardized and you can’t expect to control the outcomes. If you want to be safe all the time before you express vulnerability or you want to control how people react to your vulnerability, you can expect to stay stagnate in your journey towards your most authentic self.
This week’s homework will take more than a week. This topic takes some exploration within ourselves and I have been journaling about this topic for the whole of 2018. Authenticity is one of the words I set on my vision board to explore so be gentle with yourself.
Start to Journal about this. Think about the relationships in your personal and professional life. Choose 5 to explore. All five should be different types of relationships. For instance, your five could be: (spouse, boss, employee, best friend, child).
Rate each relationship on a scale of 1 to 5 on how authentic you are able to be in each relationship. The relationship with the lowest score is your homework. I want you to write down 10 words to describe why you are feeling unsafe to be yourself in that relationship. I want you to journal after interaction with that person and start to explore what is holding you back and why. Look for patterns with others in your life that you would give a similar low score. Connect some dots on what is going on within you that is making you feel unsafe and then tackle each of the ten words one at a time. If the other person is “a know it all” so you shut down and don’t offer answers, commit to being uncomfortable and feeling unsafe by speaking up one day at a time. Remember, this is not about how they react because you can’t control it. This is about you letting go of the weight you are carrying because you can’t be yourself.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or send me an email as you explore. We are in this together.