We spend an awful lot of our lives managing. Superficially, we may believe that we're protecting our jobs, our circumstances, our surroundings, our finances, our friends, our family, every single other person around us and anything else that you can throw into the mix when I ask you that question.
In reality, you are managing one, and only one thing: your ego. (For the sake of argument, leave aside things like protecting your children from predators).
We are walking compendiums of stories. From the day we exit the womb, we have the stories and interpretations of everyone around us slowly but surely imposed upon us. As that is happening, we create our own stories and interpretations based around what we are exposed to. By the time we are adults, there is significance to everything, and nothing is free from our cognitive system of the way the world works.
Was that kind of boring? Here's the bottom-line: you, are very busy, putting your explanation of how the world works in front of yourself, and in the way of what you want to take on in your life.
It is these stories that prevent authenticity. When we have to protect every single thing outside of ourselves (or even just most of them), there is no space for authenticity. When there is a significance to every little thing we do, it is impossible to act freely, because we must check in with the master model, run the algorithm, and determine whether or not it is safe to act.
Ever notice how, at high school reunions, people very quickly fall back into their identities around that time? It's the same kind of thing. If people notice that I'm acting different and out of character, that will be awkward, and they'll have judgments about it.
It should not be hard to see how self-limiting this is.
And so what if they do? Here's a piece of insight. Some people, like me, will have judgments if you don't show up a little different and changed. There's nothing wrong with either of those, because people are entitled to do as they will, and you (and I) have no control over any of it.
So, maybe your high school reunion seems like a specific incident, but I assert that there are million secrets that you are holding on to, unwilling to let go because of how people may perceive you.
The truth is that only in letting the darkness out can the light shine in. Until we reveal our secrets, we will never be able to see how small and insignificant they really are. While something remains in your head, the only gauge of its significance is the story that you've got.
One useful practice is simply to start taking inventory. What are all of the stories that you are unwilling to share with the world? Who are you unwilling to share those with? (Don't cheat and say "well, I share that with my two best friends, so it doesn't count). Lastly, what is the significance you're attaching to them - what are you protecting by not sharing that story?
The last thing to identify is the cost of hanging on to those stories. Most of the time, clients doing this kind of authenticity work with me will state that there's no reason to stop telling these stories, and they don't understand why they would bother to do something as crazy as letting this stuff out "into the wild". It's ironic, because usually we've spent the first 40 minutes of our session identifying that they have difficulty connecting with people, or doing what they really want to do in their lives - both symptoms of an inability to be authentic.
It's not bad that we cannot see ourselves showing up this way. It's just part of the elaborate system we've created to remain safe and sound in our comfort zone. And, there's nothing wrong with staying there. The only thing to realize is that you have a choice. You can keep managing the feelings of every single person that you come into contact with. Or you can step into your life, and really take things on. I don't promise it will be comfortable or easy. But I promise it will be worth it.
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Thanks for your support, and keep choosing powerfully.