Ever so often, I need an honest sounding board. For me that sounding board is three hours time difference and only a phone call away.
My best friend—who I grew up with and whom I feel closer to than to my own two sisters—can always be counted on as a barometer for how I am doing. We talk about being parents, being relationship partners, about our families—close and extended, about new experiences and challenges, but most of all about who we truly are.
Claudia is what I call my “authenticity barometer”. She truly loves and respects herself, and I admire her for how she navigates life. When I am at a crossroad and about to make an important decision, I often ask myself, what would she do or say? That does not necessarily mean I make the same decision that my best friend would make, but it always means I am making my own choice with more awareness.
My soul sister and I have learned from each other’s errors and from each other’s successes. We are encouraging and non-judgmental with each other, while at the same time we do not let each other get away with less than what we feel the other person is capable of. We don’t coddle each other or lie to save each other’s feelings. The measure is always authenticity. The one person who will honestly tell me if I am behaving in line with what I claim my life philosophy to be, is Claudia.
About thirteen years ago, she was brutally honest with me and let me know in not unclear terms that I was not showing up to my full potential in terms of honesty and the values I claimed I had. She could have just turned away from me without telling me why I was hard to be around at that time, and done the “polite thing” by letting the friendship slowly and quietly die. Instead, she spoke her truth and expressed honestly what she saw. It took me a while to digest what she had noticed but because it came from her, I knew it was worth considering. I am still grateful to her today, for pointing out how and where I had lost myself.
Speaking your truth is different from being opinionated and feeling you know what is right. Speaking your truth is a subjective I message: “I see, I feel, I believe and I need…” It is up to the person I am being straight with to accept or reject what I am saying. There is no absolute truth, no absolute right or wrong. There is just what works for me, or doesn’t work for me.
Being authentic also means refusing to fit into moulds of what is done, in lieu of finding your own way. Claudia always encourages me to take the harder path, the path of being in integrity with myself, which lately has required setting clear boundaries with people I love.
Sometimes we can lose ourselves in the name of love for others. Our children and partners bring out our shadows. They constantly challenge us to love ourselves as much as we love them. Living life in line with who you are means checking back in every so often to decide if a clear “no” is in order and if the lines have become blurry. Is it time to say to someone we care about, “Sorry, honey, no. That does not work for me.”?
One of the things Claudia always reminds me of through her own example is that our relationships do not have to be lived according to what society deems to be the norm. Sometimes we decide to just live how married people do, or to do what so called “good parents” do, or to behave how “good children” are expected to behave because it feels safe. We forget that it is completely up to the two people involved in a relationship to decide how they want to design their personal commitment or their personal relationship. The only relevant question is, “what feels right to both parties?” And if guilt clouds your judgment, know that shame and guilt are the lowest frequencies and biggest blocks to truly being happy. Clear them out!
We all have heard of grieving the loss of another person. Do not underestimate how deep the grief goes when you lose yourself, the true voice of your soul. Ultimately, choosing to not be true to yourself comes from a place of deep fear of being unlovable. That feeling of fear, unworthiness and shame is the breading ground for depression, food, alcohol or drug addictions, and for many physical symptoms and disorders.
How does one avoid losing oneself? What if you decided to not do things for others because you owe them but because you truly want to, because it fills you with joy? What if you reminded yourself that being lovable is not tied to conditions? Most of us still find it hard to believe that we will be loved unconditionally, independent of what we do or don’t do. And then ask again—free of guilt and obligations, free of the worry not to be loved—what feels right to you deep down?
Shed the idea that your decisions need to be popular with others! If it is a deciding criterion whether others will like your choice, you sure aren’t making that choice from your own inner voice. Sometimes one has to risk being called “a bitch” or “selfish” in order to be true to one’s own needs and values. To truly be authentic and at the same time to do what other people approve of is nearly impossible. The fastest way to come to a place of being true to yourself is to let go of the need for outside approval.
Sometimes we have to risk hurting someone’s feelings in order to be true to ourselves and our own needs. That doesn’t mean you have to be cruel or insensitive. We can come from a loving or compassionate place when we let others know how we feel. After all, love and compassion goes two ways. In order to be truly loving with others, we cannot come from a place of hidden resentment because we have been ignoring our own needs.
Being authentic has no agenda of manipulating or changing others. The motivation for authenticity is being happy with yourself and being truly healthy. Authenticity is detached from the response of others. Being authentic is loving yourself unconditionally and continuously, no matter what. Ultimately, we cannot change anybody. By living in line with our own inner voice, however, we can be an encouragement for others to try the same.
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Life and Relationship Coaching