I had no clue how to be authentic. As a child, I remember feeling like when I was myself, I was shamed out of it to behave differently. Before I knew it, I believed that any question I would want to ask was dumb and that I should already know things. I was not good enough as myself, so I’d become someone else, which then prevented me from getting too close for fear of being found out. Intimacy was a decades long work-in-progress.
When that is the experience, it takes a lot of courage to come from the heart, to be straight forward, and to put yourself out there, risking rejection and judgment. It gets easier with practice, and while it feels like one teeny tiny painful step at a time, the rewards accelerate the process quickly. It doesn’t mean authenticity becomes easy. Fear of rejection or judgment can be strong, and we don’t usually feel like being vulnerable. But it’s the key to relief. It’s the key back home to Self.
I began by practicing being fully present. It was difficult to do at first when I was overly subconscious about myself. I had to genuinely turn my attention away from me to the other person. Who knew it was so much more nourishing, bonding, and enjoyable…
I decided to trust others to be kind. This takes some discernment, because not everyone is. Before I knew it, everyone around me was kind.
I went in to things open and with a whole lot of gratitude. It helps to see the gift in every person, in every moment, and in your own process.
I got in touch with my own values and needs and developed healthier boundaries. Letting go of the need to fit in isn’t easy. This takes practice and thoughtfulness to learn to articulate on my own behalf, to say “no,” to find common ground, to work things out, and sometimes to walk away compassionately.
I put myself out there, “unfinished.” People are incredibly helpful and compassionate. And I figured out that those that are not had nothing to do with me and more to do with them.