BlossomWriter Core Value #5: We believe that blossoming begins and ends with being true to ourselves and others.
If you wanted your children to grow up to be authentic adults, to be true to themselves, how would you nurture that growth and development? Would you ignore them? Would you tell them they need to be more like their brother or sister or friends or classmates? Would you downplay their feelings, opinions and ideas?
No, you would do what professor Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., recommended in his Psychology Today article, “How to Nurture Authenticity in Your Children.” You would “observe them, take an interest in them, and listen to them.” You would “Ask your children questions about what they think and feel…’What made that fun for you?’ ‘What is it that you like so much about that.’”
So why do we ignore ourselves, compare ourselves to others, and downplay our own feelings, opinions and ideas and expect to live as authentic adults?
Perhaps, we need to take the same approach with nurturing our own authenticity as we would with our children because many of us are still in the infant stages of blossoming. We are still growing buds not quite ready to open up. Either authenticity wasn’t nurtured in us as children, or it was, but we lost our way as adults in a world of pleasing and perfecting. We regressed. So we need a place to start, or a place to re-start, to get back to ourselves.
Being authentic requires you to know yourself, deeply and truly. It requires you to know what you feel, think, value and believe. It requires you to know your interests, to be able to say “yes, this is me” or “no, this is not me.” And, ultimately, it requires you to be unwavering in sharing your true self with the world.
You cannot be true to you, if you are not true to others, and vice versa. And by “true to others” I don’t mean conforming or pledging allegiance to someone else’s ideas for your life. Being true to others, in this context, is being truthful about who you really are.
The first step, the place to start, in nurturing your authenticity is engaging in self-discovery. Ask yourself a lot of questions, get personal with your personality and explore your interests. Don’t judge where this journey of self-discovery takes you, simply observe it and then work towards acceptance. Too often we start with acceptance when we might not be ready to make that leap, yet.
If you’ve believed for a long time your feelings don’t matter, it might be hard to immediately accept they do, in fact, matter. So, you might start by simply observing your feelings and contemplating the role each one is playing in any given moment. This observance will lead you to appreciate your feelings for what they are – teachers – which will eventually lead you to accept them.
The second step in nurturing your authenticity is to know your worth apart from others. This is the only way to be true to you while being true to others. If you know your worth apart from others, you are not dependent on their approval, acceptance or admiration; you can just be yourself. It also eliminates the need to compare. When you know your own worth, how you “stack up” no longer matters. You realize life is not a contest, but a shared experience. We are all worthy, or else we wouldn’t be here together.
The third step in nurturing your authenticity is to leave behind the need to be perfect. There is no such thing. Pursuing perfection is a waste of your time and energy. You have a finite amount of time and energy, why waste it on something that cannot be achieved? Instead, try focusing your energies on what makes you, you – even the things you might at first consider flaws. For example, you may perceive your sensitivity as a flaw, when it may be one of your greatest assets.
One of my favorite role models for authenticity is Glennon Doyle. In her most recent book, Love Warrior, she wrote:
“I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, ‘For the same reason I laugh so often — because I’m paying attention.’ I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide.”
Blossoming into your best, truest self is not at all about perfection. It’s not about becoming more like someone else or more like what someone else wants you to be. It’s learning to pay as much attention to yourself as you do to the world around you. It’s discovering that deep inside of you is already a beautiful, amazing, perfectly imperfect, lovable person waiting to be brought to the surface.
What could you do this week to nurture your own authenticity? Could you listen to your heart a little more? Could you stop trying to please everyone around you? Comment below with your thoughts and ideas and please share this post if it was meaningful to you.