Hello fellow courage practitioners. It’s been two weeks and I know I promised to write this blog last week. Well, better late than never, right?
Today I want to talk about what is probably one of the most topical of the ten guideposts, and that is cultivating authenticity and letting go of what people think. We often step back from practicing courage and showing up authentically to the world because we are afraid of what people will say or think.
The Oxford dictionary defines “authentic” as: “Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine; relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life…” I like that they use the word “responsible” in the definition. This implies that we have a duty to be our true selves and to genuinely show up. In reality though we don’t always embrace who we are and we find security in being whom we think other people want us to be. The real reason we are afraid to be courageously authentic is the fear that we might fall short of other people’s expectations of us. Even when we assume those expectations, which is often the case.
The recent twitter trending topic around afros and Black hair, and policies at schools and workplaces, have the country abuzz regarding sense of identity and being ridiculed and made to feel “less than” because of the hair on people’s heads. People feel that these voices make them feel unappreciated and describe the feeling of “not good enough for my country”. Some of these are accompanied by voices which tell the pupils that they will not succeed because of who they are.
All the horrible voices (doubt, fear, lack of self compassion and empathy) which tell us that we are not good enough, or question our worthiness, caution us that showing up authentically will make us less acceptable to those around us. So it becomes easy to just “fit in” with the crowd. But recently these students and workers are finding their own voice and are saying “I am not my hair, I am not my skin, (and) I am not your expectations. No…” (India Arie). They want to be left in peace to be their authentic selves.
The unfortunate thing with caring too much about what people think is that this is a forever moving target, especially because people always have something to say about what the next person is doing. Some will say things about you that they know nothing about, like the hair story, or the rumour mill from people who envy and want to destroy your self-esteem, or people who themselves are wounded by their own voices. Chasing the fallacies and trying to please everybody will only leave you drained and without any sense of who you truly are in the world. You have unique capabilities which in a word full of abundance will find fertile ground to be realised fully.
Authenticity for me is that state we catch you in when you’re not taking yourself and the world too seriously. That moment when you are so in tune with yourself that for a second life seems effortless. It is the moment of just being. When shame has been shamed, and cannot keep you down.
If you don’t understand shame, you will not understand what keeps you playing small. Shame keeps us from playing in the arena. We must ask the questions;
- What are the emotions that keep you playing small?
- How do you uncover them and how do you challenge them?
These triggers are not always moments, but also experiences about how we engage and we operate in the world. We must live our lives like a child before an adult teaches them otherwise. With our whole hearts and ourselves fully engaged. You need to find a way to regain your worthiness for love and belonging. Know that when you are practicing courage you are going to fall many times. There will be struggle and darkness. The question to ask yourself is; ”At this moment am I fulfilling the duty to be responsible for myself and my values, or am I instead concerned with respecting others and their wishes about me, real or perceived?”. Understand your triggers, because they dictate how you think, feel and behave every day.
Our worthiness lives inside our stories. Your story matters because you matter. Today say of yourself; “I am not perfect. And I am good enough. I am woman/man enough. I am pretty enough. I am intelligent enough. I am leader enough. I am worthy of love and belonging.” Step in the world and show us who you are, and not who you think the world wants to see. Have a lovely week.
Feel free to leave some comments, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a private conversation. Please note that it might take a while to get back to you, as I get swamped with emails every day. But I will respond. Welcome to Wholehearted Living.