Authentically Alive

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Life is all about who you should be! Right?

So often we hear what we should be in our families, with our significant other, with our friends, in our work place, among other areas of our lives. I named this blog ironically because it isn’t about who you should be, but rather who you are that truly makes a difference. Authenticity is the quality of being genuine or real. When we try to live up to what we “should be”, we sometimes lose touch with who are are at our core.

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Be the Light Shining in the Darkness

There are many people who often bend and shape in different roles of their life. Whether it be work, friends, significant others, or family, I am sure we can all relate to one area. We put on these “masks” of who we believe other people want us to be, who we think we should be, and what we believe others want from us. We spend our life trying to fit into these unattainable expectations or we turn our cheek and become angry that these kinds of expectations exist.

The concept of an authentic-self is built on who we are at our core. My latest blog, “3 Ways to Increase the Understanding of ‘Self’”, enlightens people in ways that they can start exploring the person they are within the context of their lives. It can help reveal some of the experiences and circumstances that may have had an impact on us as we developed early in life and how our experiences and circumstances created and continue to create our personal world. We create defenses that help protect and hide parts of ourselves that we fear being exposed in the unforgiving nature of the world. Peeling back the layers of the who we are through each experience, relationship, and circumstance helps us see the core of who we are beneath the debris in our world.

The authentic-self is often hidden because there is a fear about facing what others think of who we are. There is a fear that, if we are authentic, people will not see us as “good enough” in their world. There is no miracle cure for facing the judgments that other people have held against us. It is about learning to be at peace with who we are at our core, and not falling victim to other people’s judgments. We must learn to build a strong sense of identity in self-love and resilience.

A photo by Joe Beck. unsplash.com/photos/NbUokuw0BQI

“Courage is taking that first step even when we can’t see the path ahead”

Authentic living is a process in which we must come to peace with who we truly are by learning to accept things others don’t see as “fitting in” and by better knowing and understanding ourselves at a deeper level. This first step is a long process and creating self-awareness in areas of our life can be difficult. When moving toward authentic living it is very important to consider the following aspects of yourself to better understand and reach the core of who you are:

  • Know how your history impacts you
  • Understand your defenses
  • Know your mind and body
  • Start with people you trust
  • Start small and work big

Each of these aspects will maximize your growth authentically. We sometimes may need a little more support in figuring out the whole concept of authenticity, and how it is safe to grow without allowing others to determine our worth. Choosing to live authentically does not mean that we are perfect or we live a life better than others. Authenticity is about being real and accepting parts of us for what that are: not perfect. In a perfectionistic driven society, it is scary to admit that we are not perfect and that our lives are messy. Living an authentic life allows us to: address what is happening in the moment, be genuine, put away the masks that we live behind, connect with people on a deeper level, and strengthen our identity in who we are at our core.

If you are ready to start living an authentic life that allows you to be more free, more empowered, and more certain of who you are then contact me. I hold a non-judgmental space to help you navigate through the process of living a more connected and heartfelt life. Take the step toward freedom in who you are and learn the peace that comes in that freedom.

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3 Ways to Increase the Understanding of “Self”

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Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought to yourself “who am I?” This is a questions that plagues every generation and it takes no preference to a particular gender, race, orientation, or age. The question of self or identity is what makes each individual unique in their journey.

Some people believe the self can be narrowed down to certain attributes that get to the core of humanity. They say the self is made up of:

  • empathy
  • courage
  • curiosity
  • calmness
  • compassion
  • connectedness
  • creativity
  • drive

We all have the capacity to reach these areas in the self, but each person will reach them at an individual level. Every person is so complex and unique that it is impossible to narrow down the core qualities of what makes up every self. Each person is uniquely made up from so many different experiences and relationships that each trait is going to be a little different in the person sitting next to them.Pu9MTKTuWOi7dDqIyZqA_urbex-ppc-062

We were all born with a certain temperament that developed from genes within our family. Our temperament helps shape our responses and our adaptability to the impact of our environment throughout our upbringing, our relationships, and other external forces beyond our control as children and adults. The combination of temperament and nurture can determine the way we look and perceive certain situations in our life.

Exploration is the key to understanding the self, but it is difficult to know where to begin to see who you are and how you got to where you are now. Here are the three major pillars in finding who we are through all of our experiences and genes that has shape us:

  • Past & Present Experiences: We all have a past that shapes us into the present versions of who we are. It helps shape how we look at situations and how we cope with certain complexities of life. When we explore the past we start to see how it links (positively or negatively) to the present, and this can be an indication of who we are currently. Every experience and every encounter impacts the way we see and create the world we are moving toward. Each past experience correlates to a present decision and each reaction allows us to tap in a little further to the world we have created around us. It can be a difficult and frustrating process to sort through all of the experiences that shape us, but this can give us a better understanding of what is happening inside of ourselves.
  • Attachment & Relationships: Attachment is the bond that we create with our primary caregiver as a young child (before age one). This specific attachment shapes the relationships we create throughout our life. Temperament does play a role in this as well, but the way our primary needs are met as an infant provides us with the understanding of how we can trust, expect, and relate to the people/world around us. Our brain registers that the people/world are either dependable and trustworthy, or sporadic, scary, or untrustworthy. This also correlates to how the past shapes our world that we create, but relates more specifically that the relationships we have throughout our life. Once we recognize our style of attachment, it does not mean this can never be changed, but awareness increases our understanding and from this understanding we can build and shape the relationships that we have.
  • Purpose & Meaning: Purpose and meaning are what drive us as human beings. It seems like we are always looking for something, whether it be work, an invention, a test, friends, family, the list could go on and on. There is a force that drives us to be happy and to create meaning in and throughout our lives. Purpose and meaning pull us to a place a positive self-esteem and self-fulfillment. Each person is given this opportunity to be unique in their passions and their desires, and our opportunity to choose can be shaped by people in our lives, by experiences, by dreams and hopes. There is very little limit to what we choose for our purpose in our lives. Where we find our purpose and our drive can say a lot about who we are as individuals. These drives can say a little about our strengths, our weaknesses, our desires, and our fears. Tapping into this area of our lives can give us deeper understanding of who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

The self is such a hard concept to define and there is so much to understand and know. The journey to self-discovery is always continuous and things are always changing, thus we change.

“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life” -Dr. Joyce Brothers

As we start to unfold some of the traits that we have, we may notice some discord with what we have uncovered, but this does not mean it is who you have to be. There are many circumstances in life that leave us wounded and broken and those pieces are still scattered. We develop certain habits or traits that protect us from all of the bad things that we encounter. These parts all serve a purpose in protecting us and allowing us to live, but these parts should not run who the core self is.

IMG_5144Maybe you have experienced some pretty difficult times and those three areas of understanding have been tainted by bad experiences, defeating messages, hurtful people, and those emotions run the compassionate and driven person you were before that incident. That core self is still there and is still shaped by all our experiences, but it has to learn to maneuver around all of the debris from our bad experiences. Bad experiences leave wounds, when left unattended to, that fester and begin to wreak havoc in our lives.

When exploration leads to struggle it is an opportunity for growth, and growth is difficult to do on your own. I encourage you to reach out and find someone trusted who will walk with you through this difficult journey. Whether this person be a family member, friend, or significant other. It is important that this person will walk with you through this and not allow their problems come in the way of your growth. If there is no personal connection that  It is always my goal to create a safe place to come in and talk about the hard stuff. If the people above are not able to provide the support you need a professional may be appropriate whether it be a counselor, church member, or a coach. I strive to provide a safe space where you can start this journey toward self-discovery and growth. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions about moving forward.

This is just the beginning to getting a better understanding your“self” and these three pillars can provide some insight on certain behaviors and certain personality traits acquired through all of the years. Exploration is the hard part and life can become strenuous when moving through these different areas toward growth. Keep moving forward, each step may be difficult, but the journey of self-growth is worth the travel.

How To Overcome Fear

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Have you ever wanted to take a leap of faith, but chose not to because that little thing called fear took over? What is this idea of fear that holds us hostage in so many areas of our everyday lives?

Fear is defined as this: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or threat.

Fear is something that can be experienced physically and psychologically (also seen as anxiety). In today’s society, there are many ways to experience physical fear (poverty, war, etc.) and there are so many psychological experiences of fear (news, appearance, shame, criticism etc.).

Living in fear is exhausting, fear always keeps our dreams at an arms distance and it causes us to question our ability every day. Fear is something that everybody encounters, and I know for myself, fear has been something I have dealt with my whole life:

  • fear of failing
  • fear of not being good enough
  • fear of not being loved back
  • fear of being alone
  • fear of the unknown
  • fear of humiliation

All of us deal with fear on a daily basis, whether it be getting into a vehicle, walking down the street, being divorced, getting laid off, failing, or having that tough conversation with someone you love. Fear lingers around every corner, and I hope I can offer you some relief in saying that it is ok to be afraid.

Fear is a normal emotion, and without fear our lives would be messy and chaotic. Fear is an emotion that keeps us in check with reality and keeps us alert to what is going on around us. I think the last thing this world wants is a ton of people who have no sense of fear in their lives. Fear keeps people from driving their car off a cliff for an adrenaline rush (most people leave that to professionals for fear of our getting hurt or losing out lives), and fear keeps people from committing crimes for fear of being caught or getting in trouble. A certain amount of fear in life is healthy, but the problem with fear with when it becomes an overwhelming force that alters the way we live from day to day.

How do we break free from fear that controls our every move and motive?

Recognizing fear for what it is and what it represents is the first force in moving toward a happy and whole life. Recognition is key to overcoming fear, because without recognition of being afraid we have no grounds to move forward. Recognition includes asking questions such as:

  • What are the things I am most fearful of?
  • Are these things hindering the way I am living my life?
  • Do my behaviors around these fears need to change?
  • When we are afraid of certain things, what does that tell us about ourselves?
  • What can you learn about yourself when you explore fears in your life?

Once we are able to recognize some of these factors and process these ideas or behaviors we will free ourselves to move onto the next step of breaking free from the grips of fear: exploration.

Exploration of fear can open up doors to growth within ourselves. Exploration entails the idea that once we recognize the fear within us and understand the impact it has on our lives. It is then that we are able to journey further into where the fear comes from and this allows us to see ideas that may have been brushed under the rug in the past. We then have the opportunity to identify if the fear is rooted in our past or if it is a current stressor that is causing the fear (or a combination of both). This opens so many doors to self-love and self-understanding. If we understand the things that make us work and make us unique we are then given an opportunity to love ourselves in a whole new way. When we do this we are able to understand fear for what it is and what it represents in our life, and this gives us power to control this fear in our day to day lives.

Recognition is the first step and exploration is the next step. What happens after we recognize what our fears are and the deep meaning behind the fear? We learn to must learn to live with fear, and sit fully and safely in the experience of feeling fear. This can take different forms and each form is unique for each fear and each individual. This will be different for every individual and the process will look different for everyone as well. This is something that no one can choose for you, you have to choose and allow a trusted individual to walk alongside you through your journey of taking on fear. It is then, that you can start to experience joy in ways that you never thought possible.

How do we look at fear in terms of self-worth and being good enough?

Fear is an emotion that keeps us from trying new and exciting things because of possible repercussions of being laughed at, mocked, or failing. Fear is at the root of perfection, and let’s face it, perfection is at the root of society. Fear can be tied into our identity and our need to be good enough for others around us and ourselves because fear is what keeps us safe from ridicule. If we stay in the “safe zone” no one will be able to laugh and we will not be able to fail if we don’t try. If we stay in the “safe zone” we remain perfect on the outside because no one will see our “imperfections”. Staying in the “safe zone” is dangerous to our identity because we all have beautiful and unique minds that have so much to offer to the world.  Fear hinders our minds ability to create and share due to society’s demands on being good enough and fitting in. Self-worth is different for every person but is often tied to fitting in and being accepted (which are ideas within themselves to be discussed). Many people tie acceptance to who they are and what they are worth.

The big question to ask yourself regarding your self-worth and identity are:

  • What do I find my identity in? Is it to success and failure, or is it to family and friends, or to my career, or does it relate to something deeper within me?

These are questions that only your unique mind can answer because no person’s answers or journeys will ever be the exact same.

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Why is fear always surfacing in and around counseling?

Fear is entangled with counseling and it typically all starts at the beginning when we reach out for help and follows us through the whole journey. Reaching out for help from a counselor is vulnerable and it elicits fear for so many reasons. For each person, it is going to be different. For some, it may be fear of judgment by others, by the counselor, or shame of self. For others, it may be fear of the unknown and not understanding how it works or if it will even work.

Once we get past these fears in the beginning, we ride into the next set of fears within the counseling process. There is fear of not being good enough in counseling and fear of not being understood or seen. There is fear of change and with that change fear of what happens after, or whether it was right. These are all things that produce large amounts of fear for people, and it takes courage to overcome fear. It takes a large amount of courage to look at fear head on and say you know what, I am going to do this anyway. When we find courage to overcome fear, we find ways to better love ourselves and better understand ourselves.