We all know at least one of those people. The ones who say exactly what they’re thinking. They don’t hide their emotions, and seem to share every opinion. They are unapologetically who they are every moment of every day. As you think about a person like this in your life, you may find yourself of two minds about them. First, you think of the damage they sometimes do – the feelings they hurt (intentionally or not), the opportunities they may squash through lack of tact, the relationships they may lose over words and actions that are “direct” in nature.
Your second mind, though, probably leans a little differently. There’s something undeniably appealing about a person who holds nothing back. You know what you’re getting with them, and you know it’s the truth, whether you like the flavor it comes in on a particular day or not. You can’t help but…well…respect them for it.
Why is that? Given all the fallout your first mind noticed from their behavior, why would you also kind of admire them for it?
What’s appealing about people who speak their mind is that they’re authentic. They’re not pretending to like, believe or support things that they don’t. On the other hand, when they are in favor of something, you sure do know it, and they will boldly support it through their words and actions all day long.
In a way, they’re trustworthy. You know they’re being honest with you, but the thing is, it has nothing to do with you. It’s about how they feel, what they think, and what their inner wisdom is telling them to do. They trust themselves, and if that trust sometimes leads them to make missteps, they keep going. They’re relentless, in a sense, which of course, is both inspirational and super scary.
We respond to authenticity because we crave it for ourselves. We have a deep and persistent need to not only be our true selves, but to have those selves be valued by those around us. So, what’s the problem, then? Why not just be true to yourself and be happy, if that’s all it takes?
Two reasons: 1) we aren’t always connected to our true selves, and 2) even if we are, we don’t always value those selves enough to believe that others should value them, too.
We decide that the only way to fit in, be successful, and be loved is to play up certain parts of ourselves, and play down others. We show part of the way up. We prioritize being liked, respected, valued and loved by others over feeling those things for ourselves.
Even more, if living your truth means making choices that may not be supported by those around you, the fear of their disapproval can be enough to keep you right where you are. But as Baron Baptiste said, “…genuine transformational experience is by its nature disruptive of the existing state of affairs.” Old patterns won’t support the new you – the trueyou that is trying to emerge. You need to create new ones.
Start with this. In order to give your “authentic self” a chance to speak, find some quiet so you can listen. Focus. Stop holding your breath. Let go of what you think needs to be said or done. Once you have a clear sense of what it’s saying to you, you can make an intentional choice about what it sounds like to the rest of the world.
A regular yoga and meditation practice can be keys to exploring what your “true self” looks like, right now. Just a few minutes, most days, and you will begin to see yourself a little more clearly. You will recognize what is for you and what isn’t, right now. You will know that your intuition, your voice, your self is valuable, and when combined with the courage of your own convictions, it is infinitely powerful.