Remember those days when you tried to be cool? When what the group was doing really mattered? When you tried to convey a certain image… hoping to be liked and accepted?
And maybe you’re still there? No judgement if so.
Luckily for me I was never very good at it, so my time of trying to be cool was pretty short lived. But from what I remember… it was pretty exhausting!
I really feel for kids today with so much emphasis on social media. At least when I was growing up (“back in myyyyy day”) we would only have to put our coolest foot forward during school hours and then could come home and retreat to our secret stash of Pokémon, frilly pink pajamas and a bedroom full of teddies. Sure I was 17, but what I did in my own time was my business!
But in all seriousness, this meant that the pressure to be – or be seen to be – anything other than who you were naturally born to be, was far less.
I’m not about to bash social media, because I happen to be one of those people that actually loves it. It’s really helped me move around the world while still staying just as (if not more) connected to friends and family in all corners of the globe. It’s helped me with my business. It’s introduced me to wonderful new friends. And most importantly, it’s allowed me to follow the growth, progression and journeys of the amazing people in my network.
But I don’t envy teenagers that are now entangled in their social webs 24/7 and unable to enjoy their Pokémon in peace. Instead, they feel pressured to doll themselves up, put on their best trout pouts and post with #squadgoals so errrrbody thinks they are so cool.
It was only by default (i.e. my failure to fit the mould of “cool”) that I discovered the liberation and awesomeness from an entirely new concept… authenticity.
It felt so great to finally embrace all aspects of who I am… including my inner-grandma. I realised in my late twenties that I was happier at home with a cup of tea and watching the latest episode of Countdown than I was going out clubbing. Now maybe this is a slight exaggeration, or just a sign of my age… and I’m sure there are enough unfortunate witnesses that could attest to my (albeit short-lived) glory days of binge-drinking and partying til dawn when I was younger.
But the same goes not just for being cool, but the aspects of your personality that you judge to be bad or unpleasant. Most of us figure out from a very young age which personality traits are “good” and which are “bad”. This is why people grow up with what I call disowned parts of themselves … an aspect of their personality that they would refuse to acknowledge or express because they know it to be “bad”.
Take for example a 5 year old boy who overhears his mum judging someone else as being selfish and how horrible that is. As a result he makes the (totally unconscious) decision that he will never be like that (or allow others to see him this way), because if he does then he will stand to lose his Mum’s love. As a result, he puts other people first his whole life but eventually grows resentful as the little boy in him starts to say “but what about me?”.
The process of filtering ourselves, putting our best foot forward, etc. begins at such an early age and can happens so unconsciously. If you have found yourself doing this, do NOT judge yourself! As humans, from an evolutionary perspective, we are intrinsically wired with a “need for affiliation”. Our desire to be liked and included as part of the group is a mechanism to ensure the pro-creation of our species… so it’s totally normal!
I’ve spoken about judgement a bit in the past and here is a recap of why you should embrace your authenticity and let go of your fear of judgment:
- SO… the secret about judgment is this: If someone does judge you, guess what… it’s not personal! They are actually just judging a disowned part of themselves that they either can’t accept or haven’t acknowledged yet (or both). The saying goes: “If you spot it, you got it”. Once you know this, it becomes a lot easier to not take anything personally 😉
- Secondly when you are 100% yourself, you energetically give every single person around you permission to show up as 100% authentically themselves too – so you are giving them all a gift without them even knowing (#you’re welcome!). Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, embracing who you are and being okay with people seeing you as you are, is a huge step not just for yourself but for everyone you come in contact with.
- And thirdly (my favourite)… although we are intrinsically programmed with a need for affiliation and desire to be liked, there is actually nothing more freeing than the moment the penny drops on the realization sinks in that when you are 100% authentically yourself, some people may NOT like it… but guess what?
If you spend your whole life trying to please everyone you will end up pleasing no one (including yourself) so make peace now with the fact that you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea… but the good news is that the people you do click with will be much more meaningful and fulfilling connections, and the days of wanting to be liked by the masses will long be forgotten.
- Everything in your reality is a reflection of your current beliefs, thoughts, programs, conditioning etc. so if someone says something that triggers you, ask yourself if YOU believe this to be true? And if so, when was the first time you heard someone pass this judgment on someone else (or you)? This will help you trace back where the fear started.
So off I pop now to gather my knitting needles and cup of tea. I may never be cool, but I sure am happy and free!
I’d love to hear ways that you have embraced your authenticity, and as always drop me a line if you have any questions or comments.