These days more and more of us feel the call for demonstrating authenticity in our lives, myself included.

What does that mean, and how did we lose it in the first place?

Is it possible for us to be anything but who we are?

It seems so. Human beings have feelings, the desire to fit in and be accepted, and fear of retribution when we don’t adapt our personalities to others’ beliefs or expectations.

You can’t blame us. It begins when we’re forming. We have to depend on our parents or caretakers to get our needs met. Gabor Mate and other well-known trauma experts speak of the distinction between attachment vs. authenticity.

Attachment. Connection. Humans need it. Animals need it. It’s vital to our well-being. As babies, we had no choice but to depend on adults to get our needs met. We cannot feed ourselves, dress or bathe ourselves. We cannot change our own diapers or go to the bathroom on our own. We don’t know how to soothe ourselves.

We establish a dance with our parents from the moment we enter their world. As we learn behaviors to get what we need from them, we assign meaning to other’s people actions. We know how to do just the right thing to get the reaction we want. Here we develop our understanding of love, shame, and the whole range of human emotions.

Our parents have their habits, ways and unresolved issues that inform the way they interact with us. We need things. So we adapt to them. It’s challenging to write about this without saying, a child chooses attachment over authenticity. But, it’s not even a choice; a child follows their parent’s lead for survival. They don’t have a choice.

As we grow, we learn how to adapt to the environment we’re in, and as a result, our authentic self gets buried within. We become what we need to be to fit in. And the adaptive behaviors form the outer shell we present to the world because we don’t feel safe enough to reveal who we are for fear of annihilation.

The question becomes, how, as adults, will we ever feel safe exposing that inner gem? Allowing our authentic, loving, silly, fun, serious, obnoxious, sad, scared, beautiful self to show up, say hello and join the party of life? Make choices that feed our authentic selves instead of remaining attached to people, places and things that only cause discomfort in our souls? How can we come to see that we genuinely have a choice in who we interact with, how we respond to things, and what happens to us? And when will we admit that our knee-jerk reactions to other people are often based on past interpretations, not present-day scenarios? (That’s a big one!)

Once you are grown, you’re in a position to recognize when your actions aren’t in alignment with your inner voice or the human you want to be. At this point, you have a choice to do the inner work it takes to feel safe, respond in new and satisfying ways, and cultivate the life you want instead of the life you may think has been prescribed for you.

Acceptance isn’t resignation; it’s recognition.

You’ll have to look at your habits, addictions, suffering, victimization, anger, blame and all the ways of being that keep you stuck and operating from a place that manipulates, ever so subtly, to get what you want. Face the agreements you make with yourself, the justifications for why you’re where you are or can’t change, the part of you that just wants to be taken care of; deep stuff that must be faced to create authentic change.

The first choice is the decision to do it differently. The second choice is to commit to what it takes to make those changes. And the third choice is recommitting again and again to doing what is necessary to keep showing up and taking the unfamiliar scary actions that bring forth your authentic inner self that has been hidden for many years.

As I write about showing up authentically, I want you to know that I speak from experience, not conjecture. It’s important to me to be an example, do the work I suggest others do and step forward with my words and actions matching. To model what I preach. Here goes!

I acknowledge having uncomfortable feelings in my heart and stomach as I write this because it’s revealing. I’m figuring out how to present my irreverent, silly, serious self as a life coach when I’ve made fun of and laughed about the term for years. The best way to use what I’ve learned; apply the work I’ve done to help others come to love this precious life as I have grown to. Find a way to market myself in a world that revolves around social media (which I abhor), passive communication and posting cute little quips or some sort of life-changing sentiment every day to entice and gain followers. The struggle is real!!!

I don’t know the answer, but I am living in the question. It’s uncomfortable. But comfort isn’t my gauge. The one thing I know is I’m going to figure it out. Despite my fears, I’m taking steps every day to move forward. That’s how I roll. That’s how I’ve always rolled. The most important thing is to begin.

I encourage you to step into the questions, start the difficult work, and set in motion unraveling the internal bondage of your past. Once you begin providence often steps in. Contentment is possible. Reach out if you would like some help.

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