I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming disheartened with seeing people hide behind facades and superficial layers of protection in our modern day world. There’s a reason why people like Brene Brown are speaking to the masses about authenticity. I have a sneaking suspicion that we, as a culture, are hungry for that which is real, genuine, and authentic. I believe we are craving it because we live in a world of disconnect, where we can hide behind emotionally detached text messages, online dating profiles, and social media status updates.
There seems to be an instinct to go deeper, and to look within ourselves, and to look deeper within each other. All of us are aching to be seen, yet many of us are terrified of being seen because we fear judgment, exposure, and vulnerability. I call bullshit on this. How about you?
It’s time to stop hiding the true magnificence of your being. But how do you do this if you’re terrified of being seen?
Expose the roots.
What does it mean to hide in inauthenticity? You’re playing small, living out a dimmed down version of you, or not being genuine. You are not expressing your true character, your essence. You may be highly aware that you’re not being authentic, or your camouflaged state may be completely subconscious.
You may know that you pretend to be someone you’re not, or try to live out a life based on a drive to seek approval, love, or belonging. Maybe you’re following the dream career that came from generations of doctors.
Maybe you’re dating and you’re an expert at approval seeking, because you fear that if you truly expressed your needs, you’d scare partners away. You wither away in hiding because you fear that the real you is too much, or, not enough.
Maybe you pretend to be interested in an activity that bores you to death just because you think it’s what you should be doing. You don’t speak up for your needs in a relationship. You may not even know what your own needs, desires, and interests are if inauthenticity is strong for you.
If you aren’t living in alignment with your truth, you are not being authentic.
Not being authentic can lead to a lot of unpleasantries, such as depression, resentment, boredom, anger, and a slew of other unhappy feelings. You may feel irritated by or jealous of someone who is living their life in more authentic ways. You may feel like you’ve just given up on your dreams of being who you want to be.
Dig up the roots.
If you struggle with being seen for who you are, it’s likely that this is not a new problem for you. Often these beliefs begin in childhood, in small and subtle ways (and sometimes not so subtle ways). People who struggle with being authentic usually have some deeper core beliefs such as not being good enough. You may have been given messages over the years that gave you the idea that you were too much, or not enough.
Children should be heard and not seen. Don’t be so crazy, loud, quiet, needy, nice, selfish, sexual, etc, etc, etc.
You may fear rejection, disapproval, or abandonment, if you show who you really are. Are you relating? Authenticity means that you must allow yourself to be witnessed, purely, and simply, as you. Does this sound intimidating?
Grow new roots.
It’s crucial to identify the stories that you use to validate your instinct to hide. What experiences did you have that lead you to believe that you couldn’t be you? It could have been a parent, a sibling, a school bully, a boss, your peers, the media.
Life is ripe with opportunities to dim our light.
The truth is, all of these experiences are interpreted through your perception. You are the storyteller of your life. If you can tell a new story, being seen may not be as intimidating. The trick is to identify your stories as just that…stories. And then you begin to courageously rewrite your stories in a way that will provide you with the strength to show up in more genuine ways in your life. Be who you are in relationship. Follow the career of your dreams. Stop trying to be “perfect” and just be you, with no limiting stories attached.
And then, you courageously take root and blossom.
Being authentic insists that you let go of your fear of being seen, and all of the fears that attach to that (rejection, disapproval, inadequacy, etc). It means you must take a risk. You step into the limelight of your life, your relationships, or your career. The limelight may be grandiose dreams that need to take root and grow. The limelight might be a soft glow that shows up in a conversation with a partner or a friend, where you disclose your true thoughts, feelings, and desires, regardless of how you think they may receive them.
It may mean shedding some crazy notion that somehow, you have nothing important to share with the world around you. It may mean that you embrace the wild idea that you are worthy of being seen.
You are enough. You are magnificent, and you owe it to the world to show your true being.
If you want to learn more about being authentic in relationships and in life, catch my interview on Destination Love with New York Times Bestselling author, Mark Manson, as he discusses his book, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life".