shut up and listen to me!

Being authentic.

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2011 at 9:24 am


What kind of person is prepared to fight for what they believe in? What is the quality that allows us to speak up, speak our truths even when our words cause unease? Who, among us, is able to just be ourselves in any given situation? Be “ourselves”? Are you mad? That’s not how to fit into society! Haven’t we been schooled to tow the line if we wanted to be counted and recognised? Remember all the times you were criticised for being outspoken, demonised and denied affection for confronting and questioning? You know all the characteristics you’ve rejected and suppressed because they seemed too bold or foolish.
In our culture, when girls go out with boys, we’re expected to “dance”. We go one step forward, two steps back, so we don’t give the impression we’re too interested. At the same time, we put on our “best face”, hide our vulnerabilities and sensitivities, and patch over the parts of our lives that we think are flawed. We dance hoping to draw an ace and find ourselves a soulmate. At school, I observe students begin candid and carefree, only to become morose and withdrawn midway through the term. I notice how children’s unabashed enthusiasm evaporates when their parents chide them for their mistakes. At meetings, I see people get excited and yell out suggestions, only to be laughed at by their managers. Nobody likes feeling stupid or being wrong, so they decide not to risk sticking their necks out again.

Every time you are humiliated and punished for being honest and truthful, you shut off parts of yourself, didn’t you? People are quick to judge, “That’s good. That’s bad.” For safety and approval, we’ve stifled our self-expression, haven’t we? I know I’m less provocative, powerful, playful… less genuine for fear of how others would react and respond. By being this way I’ve severed myself from real connection, more laughter, more authenticity. I don’t know how much tolerance there is, but I know I’ve been more concerned with saying it nicely than saying it truthfully.

I want to inspire courage, confidence and freedom. Freedom is about being able to choose whoever and whatever we want to be at any moment in our life. How can we be free if we can’t be wrong, different or angry without feeling guilty and ashamed? Discomfort with being ourselves and expressing our truths presupposes that there’s something wrong with us. To develop confidence, can we honestly say to our children, “There’s nothing wrong with you?” How do we make them believe it? Or have you been in the habit of saying, “The problem with you is…” How authentic are we as adults? Are we portraying images of people we think we should be? All this posturing is so tiring! All this double-tracking and game-playing surely takes our attention away from our commitment to our vision and to each other. What makes a group a team? What turns a customer into a crusader? What transforms a family into a loving unit, a population into a proud nation? We are all undercover change agents, and our mission is to promote engagement, openness, connection, trust and empowerment. What a tremendous loss of capacity for this country if we continue concealing and resisting. What a tremendous loss of energy, passion and potential for each of us. My ego would say: How dare I stand up here and invite you all to a higher vision of yourselves if I am not brave or free enough to live my best life. (This would involve me being completely comfortable with myself, naturally accepting and admitting my fallibility and imperfections, and totally appreciating my gifts and talents.) My authentic self would say: Who am I not to be working my purpose? I have no qualms about acknowledging all my feelings. Let me bring forgiveness and compassion to the parts of my life that haven’t worked, courage to the areas where I’ve been afraid to risk. I’m a work-in-progress! I’m an undercover agent and my mission is love.

Read more: GET A LIFE: Being authentic


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