The Courage To Be Your Authentic Self
Apart from the obvious fatigue, there’s another common element connecting the people that take my Energy Excellence Course, it’s an underlying fear of being their authentic selves, is this you?
I can completely relate to this, having been tormented by bullies at an inner city school as a youth. Protection became the name of the game. I played – ‘keep your head down’, ‘don’t get noticed’, ‘don’t draw attention to yourself’. These were the kind of conversations I would have with myself on a daily basis. I did an excellent job of training my neurophysiology to play small.
FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real – can happen when we sort and filter events and tell ourselves a scary story and then convince ourselves it’s true.
In NLP there’s a distinction that says ‘the map is not the territory’. If you have a map of a town, the map is not the town itself, it’s a representation of the town. The town on the other hand contains all the richness of reality.
In the same way, we have an internal map of who we think we are based on what we’ve experienced and what significant others told us about who they think we are. This is also not reality, it’s just a dry 2D representation of who we think we are and the conditioning we’ve taken on board from parents, peers, society, the media etc.
I’m guessing that if you knew who you really are and what you are really capable of doing with your life, it would surprise you – “who you think you are is like a grain of sand on the beach of who you really are” – Ram Dass
“Our deepest fear is not that we are
inadequate. Our deepest fear is that
we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that
frightens us. You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the
There’s nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people won’t
feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the
glory of God that is within us. It’s not
just in some of us, it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we
unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same. As we are
liberated from our fear, our presence
automatically liberates others”.
– Marianne Williamson
Maybe the reason we had previously been an easy target for dominant people, is because they sensed we felt unsure about ourselves, maybe we held a belief that we were less than powerful. Maybe we had written on our internal maps ‘there be dragons here’, and have spent a great deal of time and thought in avoidance. Maybe we were never shown how courageous we could be in the face of fear. Maybe we just need some tools.
Skillfully Communicating Your Feelings and Needs
Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life, developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, is a process that I have found to be extremely valuable and very handy when conflict arises with other people. I find it even more enriching when I use it to make sense of my own feelings and needs.
The process centres around four steps:
1. Observations – observing without blaming or criticising.
2. Feelings – describing feelings in relation to what we’re observing.
3. Needs – recognising the need or value behind the feelings.
4. Requests – requesting an action we would like taken.
I find this process enables me to quickly bring clarity when my mind has become confused or I have been swamped by my feelings.
The feeling of knowing what my needs are and communicating them in a clean and clear way, is a great feeling of rock solid confidence and clarity. This enables me to not get swamped by the heat of another person’s feelings and gives me the spaciousness to seek to understand what the other persons needs are behind their feelings.
Befriending Fear – Fear Busting Exercise
Credit for this fear busting idea goes to Jamie Smart. Go into a store and ask for something ridiculous. For example, you could go into a hardware store and ask for half a pound of apples. Do it with a straight face. When they tell you they don’t sell ‘X’, say OK thanks and leave. Just do it and see what daring yourself to face a fear does for your confidence.
The Gentle Art of Blessing – Pierre Pradervand
Another habit I have cultivated is to bless the people that I have judged for triggering my fear, upset or hurt. This helps me to stay in the endorphin producing part of my brain.
When we think poisonous thoughts about another person, the only one affected is us – we literally poison ourselves with the stress hormones we produce. So I was intrigued by the idea of silently blessing another person’s ability to listen, to be compassionate, to communicate in a better way or other qualities I was needing from them.
I now realise that dominators have a need to make people feel small so they can feel big – what does that tell me about them? Bless em!
I have shifted my thinking to a more useful model of seeing dominant people/energy as a blessing in disguise, challenging me to find my strengths and stand up for myself, honouring my feelings and communicating my needs in a clean way to help the situation to resolve. I now see these situations as opportunities to build courage, I have experienced that courage builds confidence.
I find it remarkable how quickly a positive shift happens within me when I start creatively playing with the way I code the images, sounds and feelings in my head about the way I view a situation. I find it more useful and believe it or not “fun”, to see these challenging people as structural engineers come to test my home for weak spots that need attention – and they’re doing it for free, cheers!
Fight, flight and avoidance strips us of our courage and leaves us living our lives in a small way. We may have unintentionally taught our nervous system a generalised anxiety – avoidance – relief pattern. This happens when we have felt relief at avoiding anxiety producing situations and our neurology has generalised that pattern to avoid anything that resembles fear. The trouble with this is that it stops us from growing and we can fall into a pattern of hiding from life which can wreck our self esteem.
“You are the gift that you have come into life to give” – are you giving it? Mahatma Gandhi was once on a train leaving a station and a reporter ran up to his carriage window and asked, “What message do you want to give to the people of the world?” Gandhi replied, “My life is my message”.
Is your life your message? If not what would need to happen for that to be so?
If there was a miracle tonight and you woke up with the courage to be your authentic self, what would be different?
What would you see, hear and feel that would confirm that shift has happened?
My blessings and thanks go to those teachers who have inspired this article: Marshal Rosenberg, Pierre Pradervand, Jamie Smart, Ram Dass, Mahatma Gandhi and special thanks to my tyrants and childhood bullies – bless em!
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