Bringing your authentic self to business. That can be challenging, and it’s something I’ve struggled with in the past.
We deal so often with shoulds and should nots that we often forget to allow our authentic selves to shine through. Each should [not] is a brick in a wall we build around our authentic selves; and, if we’re not careful, we can become completely enclosed.
There I am backstage at the performing arts theatre. There are 600 people in the audience. I’m about to do my flamenco dance as the title character in Romeo and Juliet. I step out on stage and begin.
Now, just in case you think I was always that bold to dance in front of 600 people, you’re wrong. I started dancing at age 30 and I had extreme performance anxiety. I was so shut down as a child that I was destined to spend my entire adult life living with my parents; hiding from the world.
You see, I grew up in a traditional, patriarchal Italian home and my father who was 5’11” and 180 pounds could blow a fuse quite easily when he disapproved of something. Like when I used to speak in English and he used to bellow out “parla in Italiano!!” … “Speak Italian!” Because of this, my mother was constantly walking on eggshells and taught my sister and I to “not upset your father.” When I asked questions and challenged my father’s opinion at dinner, my mother would kick me under the table and say “Basta! – Enough!” I cannot count the number of times that I was kicked in the shins.
I was six years old and I remember thinking it was dangerous to talk, so I spoke less and less, and guarded myself more and more, until it stunted my growth.
By 8 yrs old, I developed a debilitating fear of speaking, to the point where I stuttered quite a lot… I couldn’t even sssay mmmy nnname, and could barely get the words out, which was super frustrating and extremely embarrassing. I began to close myself off to the world around me. I didn’t want anyone to find out my secret that I was imperfect, so I did everything in my power to hide it.
Do you ever feel like you need to hide parts of yourself, because you think that people won’t accept you for who you are?
That in fact, you don’t accept yourself for who you are.
If you could do one thing that would move you into that wild and wonderful place within you that expresses totally, fully and authentically who you are, what would that be?
We can get very attached to our most cherished self-image. For me, it was the need to be perfect, in order to feel I was worthy. As with all conditioned behaviours, it is first necessary to see clearly what identities we cling to most.
Each of us has to examine where and how we get in our own way, observing all of the ways we hide parts of ourselves and all of the self-imposed expectations we place on ourselves for living up to our self constructed personas.
Once we start to unravel the layers of our false selves, we can truly reveal our authentic self lying just under the surface, waiting to be embraced.
Questions for reflection:
- What is blocking me from being my authentic self?
- Why do I feel the need to hide who I truly am?
- Can I surrender to who I authentically am?
I believe that being your authentic self has many benefits, including being the best marketing strategy for your business. Contact me for your no obligation consultation to talk about how you can incorporate an authentic approach into your business growth strategy.