This short yet powerful phrase is very popular and often repeated but following it can be easier said than done.
From a very young age, many of us were taught how to lie - to our teachers, friends, and the people we love the most. In 'Healing the shame that binds you', John Bradshaw beautifully explains this in more detail.
We quickly learnt to say we were ok when we weren’t. We were told to smile when we were sad and to ‘shake it off’ when something seen as small in the eyes of others was bothering us. We were told there was no reason to be sad because our favourite ice cream fell on the floor or our friend stopped talking to us.
We were also told (and many of us still are as adults) that our problems were minor because there were much worse problems worldwide. We were also told to ‘tone it down’ when we were excited about an achievement, maybe because others did not get the same results and we didn’t want to upset them. Or we were told to cover up when our bodies didn’t look the way that would be ‘worth showing’. I could go on.
This pressure to fit in follows us into our adult life and often translates into
‘you are too much, too little, not enough’.
Authenticity is a valuable trait that we all strive for. It is about being true to ourselves and others and not pretending to be someone we're not. Unfortunately, in today's social media-driven world, it can be tempting to present a perfect image of ourselves to the world, even if it's not entirely accurate. As a result, in many areas, such as work, school or even our personal relationships, we create different masks to protect ourselves. Being driven by shame, we worry that if we show people who we really are – will we still be liked?
Those messages we once heard from others become our internal voice. Sometimes that little voice whispers, and sometimes it shouts as if nothing else being said matters as much. Some people may say amazing things about us or to us but somehow, that little voice seems to have way more ‘power’ sometimes, bringing us down when we should be celebrating ourselves.
I am no different. I have my insecurities too. Most people, even the ones who look the most confident, have parts of themselves they wish they ‘could be better or do better’. And ‘better’ might mean different things in different contexts.
So, a big question for me has been:
‘If I can’t show up in the world as myself, how can I help others to achieve that’?
My most meaningful conversations were with people where we showed up as ourselves, being genuine and saying things we meant and not what we wanted the other person to hear.
The thing is that showing up as yourself, your true authentic self doesn't equal perfection. For me, it equals vulnerability.
It means that you accept yourself as a human who is not perfect and is constantly evolving.
It is about embracing our imperfections rather than hiding them and being willing to learn from our mistakes. When we are authentic, we build genuine connections with others, and we can inspire them to be authentic as well.
Amazingly, our journey doesn’t stop when we start showing up as ourselves, but quite the opposite - it only begins.
Take care of yourself, always.
Hello! I am a qualified counsellor offering online counselling to individuals and couples. If you want to learn more about me and my work, have a look at my website. I would love to hear from you!