Imagine you’re in a meeting at work and your boss compliments you in front of your coworkers on the stellar job you did getting a project together. Do you:
a) Smile and look embarrassed
b) Say, “Well, so-and-so actually presented it, so really he deserves the credit.”
c) Say, “Well, it was really a team effort.”
d) Say, “Thank you.”
I’m pretty sure I’ve done all of the above except D. An not just in work situations.
Receives compliment on attire: “Oh, this dress? I think I got it on sale at Old Navy.”
Receives compliment about hair: “Yeah but it’s so dry — just look at my split ends!”
Receives compliment about writing: “Oh yeah I just do it for fun, hardly anyone reads it.”
An activity is suggested that I don’t want to do: “Sure, yeah, whatever you want to do.”
Someone says something I don’t agree with: Silence
I am the ultimate conflict-avoider. I do it at work and in my day-to-day life. I apologize, I bend, I push aside my opinions to make sure everyone is happy and likes me. I’m agreeable and highly sensitive. Although being a highly sensitive person is an excellent human trait — especially now in our current culture where we need more people to consider the health of our planet and the other organisms that live on it — it can get in the way of being our true, authentic selves sometimes.
Authenticity is scary for a conflict-avoider. It means we need to show up and be real. Be honest. Let our true selves be seen.
Author Bren says to practice authenticity is a choice. To choose “being real” over “being liked”, which is all about playing it unsafe and stepping out of our comfort zone. Brown
“There’s risk involved in putting your true self out in the world. But I believe there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world. Our unexpressed ideas, opinions, and contributions don’t just go away. They are likely to fester inside and eat away at our sense of worthiness,” Brown says in this article for CNN.
As a thinking introvert, I can tell you that these unexpressed ideas, opinions and contributions definitely do fester. I am in my head more than I am out of it sometimes. And while there’s nothing wrong with thinking, I do know I need to express myself more if I am to live a more authentic life.
Aside from expressing my opinions more, I also need to stop apologizing for things. As one of my favourite fitness trainers Jen Sinkler says, being humble an unable to accept compliments is “part of the social script we are given at an early age” as women, and I have to agree with her that it’s total bullshit. “I understand that it flies in the face of societal norms, but what if we suddenly, completely stopped following the script?” Jen says in this post on her website. “Will that really make us jerks in the other person’s eyes, or would everyone involved feel better? Because here’s the thing: We are super smart, we are great at solving problems, we did kill that presentation, we do have great hair, and this skirt does make our legs look fantastic, so…thank you. Just thank you.” SO MUCH YES.
We need to practice authenticity. We need to speak up. We need to be unapologetically strong.
Although I know the importance of speaking up and authenticity when it comes to living your truth, I have not made a conscious choice to practice it until now. There was a situation that happened last week and over the weekend that made me realize just how detrimental NOT being authentic was to my life, so going forward — as scary as it might be — I am going to live my truth. Be myself. Not give a shit if someone doesn’t like it. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to be grateful, kind or compassionate — all of those things are still part of being who I am. It just means that next time someone says “great job on that project / I love your hair / I love reading your blog”, I will smile and say “thank you.”
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” – e. e. cummings
Do you find yourself apologizing for everything or unable to accept a compliment? How are you living your true, authentic self? Is it something you practice everyday?