Authenticity and vulnerability. Two little words that each pack a big punch. What comes to mind when you read these words? Today, these words light me up and serve as a compass that leads me home to my most core being. If you had asked me what I thought of these words in the not-so-distant past, my answer would have been something like, “authenticity sounds cool, but I have no idea how to consistently be in that place. And vulnerability sounds terrifying. Can I go hide now? It feels strangely more comfortable to keep myself feeling small”.
I like to reference the amazing researcher and author Brene Brown when looking for clarity on these topics. Brene Brown defines authenticity as, “cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and connected to each other through a loving and resilient human spirit; nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are“. Yeah, let that sink in. So, one might ask, how do we know when we are living from this authentic place? An easy way to start exploring this is to notice when you’re feeling out of alignment with your true nature. A lot of us go through life without paying much attention to cues from our bodies. Our bodies hold so much wisdom, and our somatic reactions are often the first sign that something isn’t feeling right. That idea of “listen to your gut” is spot on. I know for me, a telltale sign of not honoring my boundaries is when I can almost feel myself shrinking in size. All my muscles tighten, my jaw clenches, and I can’t get out the words I’d really like to say.
You can imagine, this type of response has lead to a lot of me wishing I’d found the courage in the moment to speak my truth. What gets in the way of us really embracing who we are? I love what the spiritual leader Ram Dass says about this topic- “in most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.” What roles do you play in your life? Who are you beyond those roles? Can you peel back the costumes of identity enough to find out who lives at the core of your being? And how much are we all operating out of fear? Fear that if we show up real and raw in the world, we’ll be met with loads of judgment and rejection. How might our relationships look different if we first used self-compassion to get to know all the parts of ourselves, from a curious and non judgmental stance. Then, we entered the world with courage to say, “I see you, flaws and all, and I still accept you. Here I am, flaws and all, and I accept myself enough to stand strong”. Let’s not forget we’re all in this together, and I’m willing to bet we’re all trying our best to feel some sense of acceptance and connection out in the world. The more we can show up for ourselves in authentic ways, the richer and deeper our relationships with others can be.
I now see authenticity and vulnerability as intertwined. One doesn’t show up without the other right beside it. These words represent concepts that are propelling me into 2017. As I get crystal clear on my life’s purpose, and how I feel called to use my gifts in the world, I am holding space in this tiny corner of the internet to create and share. My intention is to provide tools, ideas, and resources to align with our inherent inner peace, so that we may radiate out expressions of our truest self.
As any close friend of mine will tell ya, I’ve been on a bit of a transformational roller coaster over the past year. Take it from me, you can try to uphold all the costumes of identity you want, but sooner or later, they’re going to come crashing down and make you take a hard look at yourself. I don’t claim to have it all figured out (I call BS on anyone who does), but I do know my days spent as a mental health therapist and woman working on her own stuff, has value and a message worth sharing. Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!