LOVE thyself: practicing authenticity

You know what I’m bad at?  Loving all the ugly, imperfect parts of myself. I see my flaws as failures and I set unrealistic expectations for myself. Anyone else?

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection and it’s giving language to some of my most despised habits and “failures”. For the first time in my life, I think that I am actually beginning to pay attention to what I feel and process it — rather than ignore the unpleasant and pretend I’ve got things under control.

Processing my feelings does not necessarily mean understanding them, but it’s being okay with them and not rejecting them so quickly. At least, that’s how I’m defining it.

For example, I am really good at feeling out a room and intuitively learning what others want from me. And I’m really good at fulfilling whatever it is that they want and so any feelings or thoughts that don’t fit are often disregarded. I thought it was a gift! I could get along with just about anyone, I could stay cool in social settings, I could fly under the radar just enough to not stand out but also be accepted.

What I didn’t realize was that by becoming this chameleon that could always be what other people wanted/needed and disregarding my own feelings, I completely sacrificed my authenticity.

As I learned more from Brene Brown’s book and started a new job where my chameleon instincts went into full gear, I realized how little authenticity I actually practiced in my life. I saw how agreeable I would be just to avoid any conflict. I found myself spending hours trying to pick the right outfit so that I wouldn’t be judged.

I never realized how natural it was for me to be so inauthentic. Learning how to be authentic means learning how to love myself…even the not so perfect parts. And practicing authenticity means letting go of the perfect image I cling to and accepting who I really am. Even if other people don’t like it.

First step: Get to know myself and LOVE myself. Then I can hopefully be fully who I am without apology or fear and live authentically.

“If authenticity is my goal and I keep it real, I never regret it. I might get my feelings hurt, but I rarely feel shame. When acceptance and approval become my goal, and it doesn’t work out, that can trigger shame for me: ‘I’m not good enough.’ If the goal is authenticity and they don’t like me, I’m okay. If the goal is being liked and they don’t like me, I’m in trouble.”

-Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

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