Wholehearted Living Challenge Week 2: Cultivating Authenticity

Welcome to week 2 of our Wholehearted Living challenge, based on the work of Brene Brown and specifically from the book The Gifts of Imperfection.

This week I’m focusing on guidepost number 1: Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think.

I’ve always struggled with the idea of authenticity because it’s so important to me.

The struggle is 3 fold.
1. What does authenticity mean in reality?
2. Who is the authentic me?
3. How do I need to/want to show up with authenticity?

I’ve come to define authenticity as being true to my beliefs and values and having the integrity, courage and compassion to stay true to them no matter what.

I’ve failed miserably, succeeded intermittently and stood strong occasionally.

The authentic me is a whole other question and my current sense is that it’s an elastic, jelly type answer.

I’m much closer now than I’ve ever been to understanding what’s important to me and how I like to live out my beliefs and values, whilst showing respect, compassion and non judgement to “the other”. The elasticity arises when I doubt myself or I’m fearful of external consequences. This fits nicely with Brene’s point about letting go of what people think.

Most of the time and from a wholehearted perspective, I don’t let what people think stop me but I can still feel unsteady, hurt and remorseful about reactions to something I’ve said or done that’s been taken the wrong way due to my inadequacy in being clear with my intent and meaning. I guess that makes me human!

I want to show up with integrity, which is a core value for me. Integrity – being all of me, all of the time and doing and saying things that are in line with what’s important to me. It feels yucky when I’m out of integrity and it’s usually as a result of fear on some level.

I’ve realised that the more clarity I have, the easier I find it to be in integrity. I also find it easier to be and feel authentic and interestingly, the more vulnerable I’m willing to be. I’m a work in progress.

When I read this line from Brene on page 49 of The Gifts of Imperfection I felt a bit better.

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice –a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day”

The fear I’ve experienced, which has lead to occasions of lack of integrity and inauthentic behaviour is, I believe, driven by my desire to be respected, seen as credible and a good and caring person. Many people and you might be one of them, go out of integrity when they are driven by a need to people please and be liked – too much.

Whatever our underlying drivers are, they are powerful, sometimes helpfully and often, not so much.

I’ve also realised that as courage is another one of my core values, I want to get better at not letting fear drive my behaviour in any way that’s not connected to my real, physical safety.

I’m noticing that when I show up with integrity and do so with compassion, I feel better and in a weird way it “gives permission” for other people to step into their courageous authentic selves as well. I can show up as me, trust myself and stand for what I believe in with integrity AND I can disagree with you whilst respecting your right to be your authentic self.

As I say, it’s all a wonderful work in progress.

I thought I’d share some thoughts that I’ve found helpful when I sense an elasticated jelly moment arising.

  • What’s important to me in this moment?
  • How do I want to show up?
  • Do I want to engage, withdraw or stay silent?
  • If I stay silent am I doing so consciously or purely out of fear for what will “THEY” think, do, feel or say?
  • If I engage and stay strong what helpful or unhelpful consequences might occur?
  • How will I feel if I am inauthentic in this moment?
  • Do I want to say or do X, Y or Z, just to look good, be right or some other ego driven motive?
  • Could me showing up right now be really helpful for this person or group?

Your Invitation to Play

  • What’s important to you – values, beliefs and ways of being?
  • What’s happening when you’re being or feeling inauthentic?
  • What could be driving your “need” to be inauthentic?
  • Think about a time when you truly showed up as your authentic self. How did you feel?

Please share your thoughts on this guidepost, Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think and your reflections on the invitation to play.

Next week I’m jumping into guidepost 8, Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

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