Authenticity: All We have is Ourselves

“I am what I am

I don’t want praise I don’t want pity

I bang my own drum

Some think it’s noise I think it’s pretty”

I Am What I am – Song written by Jerry Herman

I’m interrupting the series on boundaries because something has come up that I need to write about.

I feel very privileged, in my work as a therapist, when I encounter seminal or transitional moments in the lives of the people I work with. As anyone who does the same or similar work will know, sometimes, the work will make an imprint on us personally. Whilst we do lots of training around ‘bracketing’ from our clients experiences we do give part of ourselves, so therefore it is impossible to be unchanged or unaffected.

What has come into sharp focus for me through starting to write this blog is that I work with many women who are at different places on the path to discovering the goddess within. As women they have been held back by so many different things: always thinking of others before themselves, having that voice that says ‘you are not good enough’, being pigeon-holed into certain roles or responsibilities or simply living a small life because they think that they shouldn’t take up much space. (By the way, I do want to put a note here that it isn’t that I don’t think men have obstacles in their lives, they do, but they can often be different). The most important thing that I want to say is that putting a light on different women at different stages of the process, including myself, and not just people I work with but other people I know too, has led me to realise just how beautiful and amazing it is when we have these raw moments of just being ourselves. It is what the world needs right now. There is enough lying, avoidance and covering up out there to fill a million lorries, we don’t need to add to it. But don’t be authentic for others, do it for you because whilst it may be difficult and at times painful, it is the path towards belonging, not to something or somewhere, but to ourselves.

We are all at different places on the path

What this authenticity looks like is different depending on who you are and what is going on for you. you might be at the beginning of this path following years of trauma and gaslighting from others. In which case you may need to learn to be kind to yourself and take things slowly. You may be further along the path and feel the courage to really let yourself be seen. Regardless of the stage you are at it is always important to pick your audience (similar to the safety circle I talked about in my relationship boundaries blog). There may be certain people we don’t feel ready to show our raw self to (and with certain people we may never feel ready) or certain situations where we think ‘no, this isn’t my turn to step in’. That is absolutely fine. There are times we will need to protect our raw, authentic self. Learning the art of knowing when to be and when not to be vulnerable is life changing. But when we find ourselves in a situation where being raw and vulnerable is a risk, make sure you do keep in touch with your goddess within somehow. So, you might not be able to stand on the table at a toxic family dinner and tell everyone they are wrong but you don’t have to embroil yourself in the pain and turmoil either. Play songs from the Little Mermaid in your head, go and get some fresh air, take half an hour to yourself to read: whatever it is that you need in that moment. There may be people in your life who always think they are right and maybe you’ve believed them. You don’t need to believe them anymore. We not only opt out of the toxicity with words but with our actions too. We vote with our feet.

The main thing that I hope you can take away from this is that your true inner-self, your goddess within is beautiful and amazing. You have so much to offer and so many enriching things to experience if you ask her what she wants and let her see the light of day. There are people who might say they want something different from you. It isn’t sustainable to carry on being who you are not. After all, at the end of the day all we have is our true selves.

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