Authenticity Leads to Freedom
If we are all honest, so much of our focus goes to managing others impression of us; we have all done it. I rarely believe anyone who says they don't care what anyone thinks of them. The 'tell' their comment is disingenuous is the tone of anger in their words, which covers up the shame behind them.
If I am honest, I care to some extent. Although it is a lot less than I used to. Many of the things I used to be self-conscious about no longer bother me at all. This is true freedom. Just when I feel like I am fully free from others judgment, I will find myself in some situation that lets me know there is still some work to do in this area. But I have also come to acceptance of this, which helps me keep overcoming this fear more quickly.
The number one factor related to attraction is authenticity
The irony is research tells us the number one thing that attracts people to each other is authenticity - just being yourself. Why is it so difficult for most of us to be our true self? The answer lies in our DNA.
In almost every post, I am making some reference to our core emotions. These are the spontaneous emotional experiences we have when we are not defending against them or having anxiety about feeling them. They are powerful forces for living your best life. In fact, they are the number one resource for doing so. Furthermore, each of them has an evolutionary, adaptive value that facilitates survival and acquiring our greatest needs.
The core emotion we experience when feeling judged by others is shame. Shame is what impedes our goal of being authentic. The reason shame is so powerful is because it triggers fears of death and annihilation. No small thing. For most of human history if you were not part of a group, you would not survive. To be rejected by the community was a death sentence.
Every core emotional experience has what is referred to as an adaptive action it wants to initiate. Shame will cause you to either become subservient, a less than stance, or attempt to conceal what you have done. Even though being rejected by 'the group' no longer threatens our physical survival, the primitive part of the brain has not received this message.
Overcoming shame requires safe relationships
The number one fear next to death is speech anxiety. On a practical level, the worst thing that can happen to you is embarrassment. But from the neck down, your body says, "I'm going to die." If you struggle with public speaking, all the affirmations and rational approaches in the world will not save you from the panic you experience when you get up to speak. In this type of scenario, primitive wins.
To achieve the goal of being your authentic self requires overcoming shame. It necessitates working through past and present shame in the presence of a supportive other, or even more powerful, an emotionally safe group. Having lead hundreds of group therapy sessions in substance abuse treatment centers, I can attest to the power of a safe group to heal.
Resources for healing from shame
There have never been more resources to help you heal from shame and learn how to become shame resilient. Brene Brown has made a career out of helping others with shame. She has numerous books addressing this issue. Google shame or search for books on Amazon related to shame. However, nothing will be as impactful as developing a small community of safe relationships in which you can take incremental risks to reveal your true self, or you can start with a counselor or therapist.
Nothing will have a more positive effect on your life than conquering shame. I can validate this in my own life and those of the clients I have worked with. Without shame, everything gets quieter, calmer, and more enjoyable. All the energy you put into protecting yourself from shame can transfer to unlocking your creativity and greatest potential.
Make the commitment today to pursue being your authentic self. It will be the highest act of self-love you can ever do. There is greatness inside of you that can only be expressed as the real you. It is your unique contribution to the world. Moreover, nothing will fulfill you more than engaging in what you truly value and love. Be courageous and find others who will support your efforts. I can assure you not only are you more than enough, you are exceptional.
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.