Authenticity, part 1
Have you ever had a moment of realization that “Oh, my. I can’t keep all this up!”
I had that realization several years ago. On the outside, I looked like a pretty productive and effective young adult. I had a job, friends, family, a dog, and all that.
As a healthcare practitioner, I LOVE people. I want to make them happy and see the best in themselves. So, to do this, I was kind of a chameleon. To my family, I was the mediator. At work, I was the go-to girl with all the answers. To my friends, I was the soft shoulder to cry on. In my relationship, I was the strong one. To my dog, I was the master who provided safety and security.
All of those things sound wonderful, except each corner of my life (my family, friends, work, clients, etc) knew a different version of me. I was something different to everyone.
It was exhausting!!!
After some soul searching and digging, it was brought to my attention that I was living an inauthentic life. I wanted everyone to know ME as I knew ME.
So, I did some research about women in history who really lived an authentic life. I wanted to be like them.
Susan B Anthony
Julia Ward Howe
I wanted to be confident in who I am, knowing that I am enough for whatever situation may come my way.
In my research, I found one common denominator.
On first look, I decided that surely, that wasn’t what creates authenticity. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
But, on further reading, COURAGE is exactly what each of the women used to create authenticity.
What is your definition of courage?
Who is your role model of courage?
At first, my definition was much like the movies show us. Think about Braveheart, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. The main characters are courageous. Surely it is more than overcoming physical danger.
Courage is the quality of mind and spirit that enables us to face difficulty.
It is the way we prepare ourselves for an unknown future. A practice, if you will.
There are different types of courage:
Physical Courage – enduring pain or hardship (like in the movies)
Moral Courage – the ability to act rightly in the face of opposition, shame, or discouragement
In Western culture, courage is the pivotal virtue. All other virtues rest on this one quality. To posess any other virtue, you must be able to sustain it in the face of difficulty.
Courage is not something that you can call on, in moments of need or an emergency. It is not something that can be completely handed to you in a lesson. It is a way of life. Like a habit.
Courage is a matter of routine, not a series of deeds.
A mom who resists giving goodies and spoiling her children shows courage.
A family who tills the garden, unsure if this season will bring enough rain or sun to bless the seeds.
A student who is bent on following her dreams.
“Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.” – Ruth Gordon
Although I cannot dink you over the head with my magic wand (which, by the way, I do use in therapy and give you the quality of courage, you can start with these 4 practices of courage.
And I stress that word, PRACTICE.
The four practices of courage are: honesty, bravery, faith, and joy.
First, lets talk about Honesty.
Honesty has to do not only with telling the truth to others, but looking at the truth within you.
Lets do a quick exercise I use a lot in my seminars and day retreats.
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page so you create two columns. On the left hand column, title it WHAT. In the other column, title it HOW.
In the WHAT column, write down your top 5 values in life. For me, my top five are creativity, connection, faith, service, and growth. Yours might include family, friends, work, organization, money, etc. Whatever comes to your mind first. Don’t think about it too much.
In the column on the right, write down three ways you regularly express those values in life. For my top value, creativity, I am a musician, I am learning how to turn wood, and I use creative out-of-the-box solutions for problems.
The goal of this exercise is to find the values that mean the most to you and to check if you have engaged in them recently (like, daily).
If you haven’t engaged in the HOW, then you know that authenticity is not happening right now, and you know WHERE it is not happening. It’s a simple test to see what you need to add or take away from your life to make it what you want it to be.
If you want the expanded version of this exercise, leave me a comment below and I will get you a copy of the whole worksheet. It goes through your top 15 values, labels them as level 1 and 2, and adds in the third step of courage. I think this is so useful, I’ll even walk through it with you