What If You Could Show Up and Be Seen As You Really Are?

Today's post explores the first of Brené Brown's "Guideposts for Wholehearted Living" from her book The Gifts of Imperfection. If you're reading the book title and thinking, "How could imperfection possibly be a gift?!!" then this is a great book for you to read. I thought the same thing at first, and I absolutely love this book. I frequently recommend it to my clients. So if you're interested in understanding how the Guideposts can help you live your life more wholeheartedly, then read on! 

What If You Could Show Up For Who You Really Are?

In my last post of this series on living an authentic life, I listed the Guideposts and how I (and many other people) have used them to help me live my life in a more fulfilling and joyful way.  The first Guidepost is: Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think. That can be a tough one. What does it mean to you? 

Here in the greater Annapolis area, where I live and work with clients, it can be really hard to let go of worrying about what other people think. Conformity is prized in our community, and fitting in feels better than being excluded. I think that is true no matter where you live. But what if you aren't the same as everyone else? I'm kidding. None of us is the same as everyone else! We're all unique, and our differences are what make us who we are. For some reason, though, we tend to hide what makes us unique in order to fit in with the group. 

If you want to dig deeper into Brené Brown's work, join me July 17-19 when 6 women will use The Daring Way™ model to discover how connecting with their most authentic selves can help them build meaningful relationships and live wholeheartedly. Click here for details.

When you don't like who you really are it can be tempting to hide, pretending to be someone you're not. You might find yourself trying on different personas until you find one that people respond to in a positive manner. This often starts in childhood, and some of us are so skilled at it that we don't even realize we're doing it anymore. It becomes automatic, like a chameleon changing color to fit its surroundings. Eventually you may wonder, "Who am I, really?"

There are many common strategies that are used by people to get by. One of these strategies is going along with things that you don't really want to do. You may hate playing golf, but you do it to fit in with your work friends because it seems to be expected. Another strategy that many people use is participating in social gatherings with people who don't talk about meaningful subjects, instead limiting conversation to surface matters. There is a time and place for this, but if these interactions are your only social relationships, it can feel lonely and hollow to feel as if you have no one to talk to who understands what you're going through.  It's isolating, and you may even think that you are the only one who wants to talk about anything more than the weather, what home improvements your neighbors have done recently, and which Kindergarten teacher you want your child to have next year. 

Many women compensate for such feelings by anticipating other people's needs and trying to meet them before the person asks. Our society emphasizes women's role as caregivers, and sometimes this helps us avoid thinking about our own needs. It's usually met with a positive reaction from others, too. Are you the woman who always brings the perfect dish to the neighborhood gathering and the first one to start cleaning up for the hostess when the evening comes to an end?  Do you have a hostess gift every time you show up for an informal happy hour at your neighbor's house and send a thank you note as soon as you get home that evening? Are you the one who is always doing favors for everyone else in the community? There's no doubt that you have impeccable manners and others probably appreciate everything you do for them. But are you doing this because you want to, or because you want to be liked? Don't get me wrong, I want to be liked too - we all do - but I would prefer to be liked for who I really am, rather than how good I can make the other person feel about themselves. What about you? Would you rather be liked for your true, authentic self (even if you don't always have time to send a thank you note right away) or for your ability to change your behavior to suit the other person? People pleasing and hiding our true selves can create a prison with us trapped inside. How can you ask for help when you need it (and we all need it at times) if you are too busy taking care of everyone else?

What would it take for you to believe that your own combination of unique qualities is what makes you special? Think about it. What do people like about you? Is it your outrageous sense of humor? Your joyful laugh? Your artistic ability? Do you have a great singing voice? Maybe you make the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Do you have a family recipe that you have mastered but you never cook it for your friends because it represents your family's cultural heritage which is embarrassing to you? It might be hard to imagine showing your neighbors, friends and co-workers your true self. Are you afraid they wouldn't like the real you? Or worse, do you feel like you don't even know the real you anymore?

For many of us it can be difficult to imagine being accepted as we are, with the pretense stripped away. It might be easier if you imagine a child. Whether you have children of your own, or you have children in your family - nieces, nephews, cousins - or your neighborhood. What would you tell a child about being the same as everyone else? Can we agree that each child is unique and special exactly as he or she is? Sometimes it's easier to believe that when thinking about children than ourselves. But let's remember that we all started out as children too, and our special qualities didn't stop being valuable just because we have grown up. 

It's important for your own well-being and that of your children, if you have them, that you understand that you are just right, right now, exactly as you are.  If you have trouble believing that, and want to work on connecting with your authentic self so you can feel confident showing up as you really are, get in touch with me! I would love to work with you on this. I am certified to use The Daring Way™ method, based on the research of Brené Brown, to build shame resiliency and help you remember what you loved about yourself when you were a child.  You deserve to love yourself for who you are, and to stop hiding your true self from the important people in your life! To work with me see below for contact info.

If you want to dig deeper into Brené Brown's work, join me July 17-19 when 6 women will use The Daring Way™ model to discover how connecting with their most authentic selves can help them build meaningful relationships and live wholeheartedly. Click here for details.

Brené Brown's Guideposts to Wholehearted Living

Thanks for reading this installment of the blog series on living authentically. If you like what I've written here, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for more. You can also sign up for my e-mail newsletter, which is sent every so often with updates on new offerings including workshops, groups and intensives, as well as recent blog posts and news about the practice.

Have you ever wondered whether you'd still be accepted if people knew the real you? If you're afraid of the answer, but brave enough to want to find out anyway, then get in touch with me! You can call me at (443) 510-1048, send me an e-mail at laurareaganlcswc@gmail.com, or visit my website for more information and to schedule an appointment


Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.