Becoming your authentic self is a trendy buzzword in the Spiritual community but what does it really mean? Simply stated it means “ Be yourself” but why is that so damn hard? As adults, it’s likely because we don’t truly know ourselves. We don’t listen to our intuition, that little voice inside of us that knows us and what’s in our best interest. We learn from an early age to ignore that little voice and strive to impress others and convince ourselves that external validation is necessary to determine our own self-worth. In reality, we create multiple masks or false images of ourselves to please others and in the process, we forget and lose touch with who we are.
So lately I’ve been thinking about and analyzing my parenting and it’s been challenging not to think I’m failing Molly somehow. The catalyst for this reflection has been that Molly has been struggling. While we lived in Europe she longed for Canada and when we moved back she struggled with missing her dad and in general, she has experienced a lot of major change in the last two years. I’m overwhelmed by all the change so I’m not sure why I’m surprised she is as well. I’ve been wondering if we made mistakes is a rabbit hole I occasionally get sucked into, not a helpful place to be and it feeds my saboteur who says I’m a failure.
As I reflect on Authenticity it makes me think about childhood and parenting.
Molly, like most children, is a vibrant soul full of life, a sense of wonder, and the desire to explore/create and live in the moment. Children are perfect, they have no baggage and don’t fear the future or dwell on the past. They aren’t afraid of anything, including putting themselves out there and loving unconditionally which most adults struggle with. So when do we change? When did our thoughts and essentially fears tame our inner magic?
As I reflect on my parenting and my experiences with Molly’s teacher this year it becomes clear to me how as adults we beat this magic out of our children. Unfortunately, this year Molly’s teacher doesn’t love Molly’s spirit, tenacity, energy or intelligence. Anyone who knows my daughter knows she is full of life and marches to her own drum. She is a spirited child who is strong-willed, has intense emotions, demands to know why and doesn’t respond to “Because I said so”, and she moves at her own pace. The benefit is that she will be very successful because of these qualities.
As a child, I was an obedient and very submissive child and so raising such a strong child is uncomfortable for me. She challenges and teaches me daily. As much as I don’t want her to be like I was, I can see how at times I try to “tame her” make her fit into the so-called socially acceptable mold of what children should be like. I see how her teacher also wants to tame her and they are in a constant power struggle. I understand our school system is overstretched and the teachers are doing the best that they can with large class sizes. But I can see how her experience in Grade 1 may profoundly affect her spirit and in essence dull her vibrancy.
This saddens me because I can learn to parent Molly differently to prevent taming her but she spends a lot of time at school and I wish her teacher saw her gifts and not her perceived limitations.
When I reflect on how far I am from living authentically, I am reassured that I’m not that far off. Yes, I’m a work in progress and a hot crazy mess at times but I’m also a self-aware and evolving hot crazy mess. I’m happy that I don’t place external things above my genuine values and beliefs and that I’m less afraid to be vulnerable. I’m not motivated by money however, I do continue to struggle with requiring external validation and acceptance. My husband would say that I am a people pleaser who goes out of her way to inconvenience herself for others. I’m getting better but at times don’t hear the loving reassurance from my friends and family and only hear this validation from strangers. Learning to love myself and show myself unconditional self-compassion is the way to overcome this for me. It’s a process and I’m evolving.
Where are you with living authentically? Ask yourself the following:
Is your top priority making lots of money?
Are you obsessed with getting lots of followers on social media? or only portraying a positive image?
Do you let others make decisions for you?
Do you let society or others dictate who you are and who you “should be”?
Do you follow the crowd or follow current trends even when you don’t like them?
Do you ignore your internal voice (intuition)?
Do you wear a mask and prevent people from getting to know the real you?
Are you terrified to show your vulnerability and feel that your true feelings, thoughts or values aren’t whatever (justified, accepted….).
Do you make decisions based on money, attention or acceptance?
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. - Unknown