Oh boy, do I know this to be true. Traveling the path to discover our true self takes a ton of courage, over and over again. It also requires ongoing practices of resiliency, compassion and forgiveness towards oneself. So far, I’d have to say, becoming authentic has been the longest, most arduous and painful journey of my life to date. Dont misunderstand me, my journey to authenticity is not done yet – far from it. That’s one of the ironies of this particular journey – as much as have learned and grown, I know I haven’t got it all figured out and I’m so okay with that. I am okay with making mistakes, because they teach me and I grow. I am okay occasionally falling back to old approval seeking behaviours that inevitability will occur, particularly if I’m stressed, tired or in a new unknown situation. I am okay with whatever challenges are thrown my way because of the confidence, faith and trust in myself I’ve gained on my journey overcoming challenges. By facing fear and doing it anyway, I’ve proven to myself I have what I need to face the next fear, and be okay. I actually embrace mistakes as an opportunity to call myself out, practice self-compassion and forgiveness, apply the wisdom, strength and skills gained to do what is necessary and move on more authentic and true than before.
It is such an amazing feeling, so liberating,to no longer feel that gut wrenching paralyzing fear of rejection that I once did. There may still be a twinge, but that’s okay because it reminds me to be alert, reflect upon whats happening and to choose to do things differently. This is called conscious competence – need to consciously think about to do it rather than it being automatic. The more I practice, the more competent I become with less conscious thinking, becoming more automatic or unconsciously. The time between the ‘slip’ backwards into past ways, catching myself and regaining my balance is faster and easier more and more. Each time this occurs is an affirmation I’m ‘getting it’; transcribing the knowledge and skills from conscious competence to unconscious competence and it fuels further confidence, becoming more authentic and behaving with ever-increasing levels of integrity and authenticity.
Sometimes, I’m almost excited about situations that in the past would have frozen me with fear and seek approval. I see these events as an opportunity to test myself and practice, knowing I will gain more insights and learning. As approval seeking diminishes and better boundaries becoming the norm, I’ve noticed a greater ability to see potential ‘trigger’ situations and people and proactively steer clear of them completely. Avoiding such situations and people further solidify new thinking and behaviours, giving me further confidence and self-esteem in being who I am, my authentic self.
Like life itself, the learning process to becoming more authentic is cyclical, a positive feedback loop, reinforced by specific positive benefits. The benefits, higher self-steem, trust and acceptance further reinforce increases in confidence in self. I learned at an early age to seek approval and acceptance from others as means to accepting myself. On the surface, this worked&very well for a large part of my life despite the fear I felt of possible disapproval and rejection. I was misaligned between how I behaved and appeared to others from how I felt and thought about myself. To become aligned, the true me inside and out, required finding who I really was and overwriting outdated beliefs about myself and who I thought I was supposed to be.
Fortunately, some higher power was looking out for me. Piece by piece, over the last 10 years, every external element of my life I had come to rely on for acceptance and approval has been stripped away. Married to single, move from one city to another, loss of my comfort zone and many friends, employed to unemployed a few times, new friendships come and go, dwindling savings, death of one parent, terminal illness of another and thoughts of ending my life to end the pain. Tough journey for sure, but I now know it was necessary to force me to learn to rely on my inner authentic self only for acceptance and approval.
Along with the core life saving lesson, the path to becoming authentic has enriched my life so many ways, too many to name. The inner peace and calm, the freedom to be who I was and say what I think, the presence in which I live my life, the resiliency, confidence and wisdom I’ve gained, the grace and compassion that fills my soul, the love and serenity I feel, is far beyond what I would’ve ever imagined. It has been worth every dark day of hardship I endured to finally step into the light of my authentic self.
Try it, you’ll like it.
Just sayin’ 🙂 ❤