For the last few years, I’ve been diving deep into building my own authentic life. Trying to navigate through the views and beliefs that I’ve held about myself because of my interactions with others and what I truly want to believe about myself. I’ve extended this into my practice with my clients. Trying to help them decipher what they actually want for themselves, instead of following the expectations and beliefs that others have put on them.
Whether we like it or not, others have an impact on what we believe about ourselves. Got rejected by a crush you really liked? You must not be enough. Got rejected for a job? You must not be smart enough. Your mom didn’t spend time with you? You must be unlovable, unworthy, stupid, dumb, ugly, blah blah blah. So you start with these as a foundation and what does it lead to? Finding the negatives in everything, focusing on all of the “evidence” to support that these must be true. It’s not that there was another qualified candidate for the job, or that your mom was working two jobs to provide for you, or that your crush wasn’t even emotionally available for you. It must be that you’re all of these negative things because it’s always about you not living up to others standards. I call BS! Sure you’ve been living in this pattern for years on end and it’s comfortable because that’s what you expect, but you don’t have to keep living in this cycle if it’s no longer serving you. Especially if it’s not true for you!
Shirani, author of Fierce Authenticity, highlights that our relationships are a mirror of how we already view ourselves. She points out a common occurrence of a wife feeling unsupported by her husband with the in-laws. Their comments must mean that she is unlovable, not good enough, not valuable. At her core she feels unworthy, thus everything they do MUST be because she is unworthy. They mirror what she already feels about herself. In fact, it might just mean that they are experiencing their own insecurities. A not-so-secret, people are often focused on themselves. So all this time the wife is focusing on how she can be a wife that’s “good enough,” while the in-laws are projecting all of their own insecurities onto her.
So how does one shake off these untrue, unhelpful patterns of thinking and relating to create a life that’s more meaningful? Shirani identifies 4 aspects of living an authentic life that’s empowering and fulfilling to you. First, you have to fiercely love yourself! cliché maybe, but if you don’t love yourself how do you expect to live a meaningful and fulfilling life? In therapy, this might look like helping you to identify how your previous relationships have impacted how you relate to yourself and others. Did your parents seem to only acknowledge you when you received a good grade? Did they respond harshly when you did not? How has this impacted the way you treat yourself and others when they don’t live up to expectations? Do you notice that mean voice in your head who says that you’re worthless, a failure, etc? We’ll likely start replacing it with more grace for yourself. If you talked to others the way that you sometimes talk to yourself, would you have friends or close relationships? Probably not, so why do we talk to ourselves this way? This is such a no-brainer answer, but helps to connect the dots for my clients to see that they deserve more than the harsh treatment they have been giving to themselves.
Once you have this fierce love, you move on to fierce care for yourself. As she so beautifully highlights, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Once you love and care for yourself, you’ll be able to figure out who you truly are and what matters for you, finding that fierce authenticity. After this, it’s sharing this with others! People will often treat you the way you allow them to. If you communicate with them your authentic self, you’ll likely see some big changes in the quality of your relationships.
Not sure where to start unpacking all of the baggage and negative qualities that you’ve been carrying around? I’d love to help! It’ll be hard work, but freeing and isn’t that wonderful?
Want to read the book along with me? Check it out on Amazon here, Fierce Authenticity
If this speaks to you an you’re looking for help in California, please schedule a consult.