Authenticity and vulnerability have become popular buzzwords in our society, today, and many are divided on what they mean, their place at work and even for the world, on a macro-economic scale.
Honouring individual sovereignty means we accept that all healthy individuals are capable of making the best decisions for themselves, and their lives, uninfluenced by anyone or anything else. I believe we all take action when we’re intrinsically ready. Action taken before we’re actually ready, often leads to doubt, imposter syndrome and subconsciously grieving what we lost. I cringe when I hear coaches and teachers talking about “pushing” or giving a “kick in the pants”, because I know it diminishes individual power.
As most of us were parented with those communication undertows, however, we’re more readily swayed, even if subconsciously, by those types of words. Our parents, and their parents, meant well when they spoke to us that way, but it doesn’t serve to strengthen self trust.
Since that’s what love and support sound like to us, we continue to trust others – gurus, coaches, consultants, mentors, advisors – who speak this way, even above ourselves. There are several industries making a mint off of the fact that many of us are wired to respond with submission, when being scolded. We can change that.
If we are clear on who we are, on our own goals and values, we become truly powerful contributors, as global citizens. We can genuinely “live and let live”, because our actions are rooted in love, which trusts and honours. That is because self love inevitably overflows. The need to influence and control are generally based on fear, which is the actual opposite of love – not hate, as you might think. Even hate is rooted in fear.
Instead of standing in our strengths, without realizing it, we’ve handed over much our decision making power, our individual sovereignty, to others. We haven’t handed over the responsibility, though, leading to mounds of helpless, unfounded, guilt and shame. All of this drowns out our intuition continues, meaning we stop hearing and trusting ourselves. Of course, this drives us to seek external counsel on more and more matters, until there’s nothing left for us to answer, ourselves.
May I invite you to consider this: No one is better equipped to lead your life than you. That’s why your life was entrusted to you, and you only. It is here that my talk, on Authenticity, was born. I mentioned, in an earlier blog post on this topic, that:
“Being authentic, being true to oneself, is not an excuse to be viscious and call it honesty. It is not finally standing up for ourselves in an unfair situation and “getting it off of our chest”, either. These are examples of actions or reactions, which may reflect our true thoughts or emotions in one snapshot of time. Those moments are important, yes, because they reveal issues that affect us adversely so that we can address them, or boundaries that have been violated that we need to reinstate. Those snapshots are not, however, who you are inherently.”
It’s important to be clear on that, but how do you know who that is when everyone is in your head except you? How many causes are you investing energy in, that aren’t yours? How much has guilt pushed you into, that is draining your energy? From work, to relationships and volunteering for free to gain experience, take a step back and check in. Are the driving ideas truly your own? If they’re not, if you let them go, what new contribution might you be able, and willing, to make in the world? You’ll find out, when self care comes first and you begin to give primarily from the overflow of that self care. Why? It’s because you would have slowed down enough to hear yourself.
Beware resentment and rebellion
As you go into deeper reflection, you’ll start seeing which ideologies are yours, and which ones were placed on you by society – culture, religion, parents, tradition, etcetera. Sometimes we, ourselves, develop beliefs against our own nature, after traumatic experiences.
The point is this: once you start doing the work of discovering and differentiating among those beliefs, inevitably, some form of anger arises. Anger is good, as it indicates when boundaries are being violated – real or imagined – and it is a necessary part of the process. This is where resentment shows up, and rebellion – silent or otherwise – is a natural response.
This is important. As tempting as it is to do something about it – write, speak up, share a piece of your mind, inform the world – the invitation here is to sit with it instead. Anything else is a swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction – rebellion – sometimes, at any cost.
That may feel great in the moment. In fact, if it is a necessary part of your healing process, honour that. If, however, it isn’t necessary for you, sitting with it allows you to work through the hurt until you can truly let go of it, forgive (often unintended) betrayals, and return to honouring your individual sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of those we’re forgiving. That means allowing others to keep their beliefs, even as yours change. That may be the toughest part, but it’s also where the magic and true liberation happen.
In my talk, I walk you through a few practical examples most of us can relate to, and a few exercises that have worked for me, and others, in dealing with feelings that arise. This is something you can also talk yourself through.
Back in the world
Of course, it is easier to stand on your newly discovered self when no one has challenged it yet. I invite you to hold this new you close to your chest until it takes root, until you’ve silently tested it in numerous situations, so that you can tweak and refine as you learn more about your truths.
Once you go public, you’ll know if you’ve taken enough time to do so. Your parents, partner, friends, colleagues, even those who recommend that you “always be true to yourself”, may not like how your change affects them. If you haven’t let your new ideologies marinate within yourself, and grow strong within, it’s easy to feel intimidated, defensive, or even revert to who they’d prefer you to be. Then, resentment returns. If you’re more assertive, you may not revert to who you were, but it’s easier for rebellion to set in.
You’ll know that you’ve sit alone with your discoveries long enough when, faced with any disapproval, even if you’re caught off guard, you’re able to step back and remember that this is a normal response. You’ll be able to actually, within yourself and without explaining a thing, “live and let live”. You can genuinely celebrate your freedom to be, as well as their freedom to be. You take responsibility for your feelings, and genuinely (not mockingly) leave them with the responsibility for their own.
You are worth it
I have found that self care and authenticity are inseparable. Self care gives you the time and space for clarity, which allows your true self – not the self under pressure – to show up. Self care is powerful because it ensures that you are actually included in your day and your moments, and your truth has enough time to shine through, for you. No one else needs to see it. It gives rise to your power and confidence. There’s peace in owning our yes / no, our decisions. Even our mistakes are easier to learn from, and mindfulness happen organically, when self care is the norm.
Entrepreneurship isn’t 24/7 for everyone. Life isn’t “give until it hurts” for everyone. Your life and career, can truly energize you, and that allows for greater impact, overall. What are you ready and willing to do, to find out who you really are – to have the life, the career and the freedom, you really want? Food for thought.
This article was adapted from my blog post here, at the Successiory blog.
Crystal-Marie Sealy, MBA, is a dedicated mom, keynote speaker and entrepreneurial strategy consultant focused on sustainable business models for premium services entrepreneurs and professionals. President and founder of Successiory and her signature “Mindful Entrepreneurship for Mindful Affluence™”, Crystal-Marie works with professionals who want to build sustainable (livable) business models around their lifestyles and create sustainable client community on social media. She also speaks and delivers workshops at business and motivational conferences on authenticity, entrepreneurial strategy — pricing, process, and pace i.e. feasible schedules and productivity — and client social media community. Connect with her and subscribe at www.successiory.ca