Come out! Come out! Wherever you are! It’s time to stop hiding. Unfortunately, many people today still feel it necessary to hide themselves from others. I’m starting this blog series about what it takes to be real and how we can release barriers to full expression. We expect authenticity from others but can we recognize when we are inauthentic, and do we feel aware and empowered to change?
Authenticity is defined as the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; sincere and authentic with no pretensions. With the pressures we’re all feeling today it’s not hard to understand why we don’t feel free to be ourselves. We’re seeing the many faces of anger, jealousy, competition, hatred and fear every day. No one wants to be the target. We don’t know what direction it will come from either.
Whether you realize it or not, you have an innate ability to recognize when someone is being less than real. That sense that what you’re seeing and hearing is incongruent with what you believe true. We might see it, think it, or feel it, but we certainly know when it’s happening even if you can’t name it. It makes us uncomfortable.
Regardless of age, everyone knows the pain of judgement and tries to avoid the sting. Whether it’s a misstep or mistake, sexual orientation, a difficult past, faith, fears, a job, our education, gender identity, financial difficulties, political views, the challenges of certain personality traits, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, or lack of self-love; people don’t feel safe to speak the truth or be themselves.
Every one of us has experienced the sting of judgment, or loss of our sense of safety by exposing some deep truth about ourselves: that moment when we unknowingly showed our vulnerability as we shared our truth. Maybe it was high school when in our desire to be cool, we professed/confessed our adoration of a popular band before we realized that ‘the cool kids” thought that group passé. We became pinned as “uncool”, and it stung when stuck. Maybe it was Day 1 of the new job, when we sought connection with another and blurted something dumb in our anxiety for recognition. Or in trying too hard, we saw and felt the realization in the eyes of those listening that they knew we were not being real. First impressions formed and those can be lasting. Maybe it was that moment when we showed our vulnerability, and because others felt exposed as they related to our truth, they lowered their eyes, looked away or disengaged; body language begging for us to stop.
This year we are seeing the exposure and disclosure of inauthenticity in politics, governments, relationships, leadership, our family, and friends. Most importantly, if we’re honest with ourselves, we feeling it within and we don’t like it. People everywhere are struggling with what they want to say and do, and what they believe they feel allowed to do or what is safe. Some are struggling with who they want to be, what they want to do, and what they believe is expected of them. Folks are trying to figure out how to hold onto the illusions created about themselves, and still feel free to express their truth. It can’t be done, and there’s discomfort in the squeeze of that tight spot. We must free ourselves and there is no better time than now. But how? I’ll tell you, but first I must reveal my lack of authenticity truthfully.
As you know, I do non-traditional work. I teach new truths about old ideas and old truths that seem new to many. I know first-hand that corporate leaders, and business owners use these services, but they mask them under different expenditures and names. My work is an occupation fraught with all kinds of misunderstanding, false ideas, and judgment. Depending on who you are and what you believe, you may use these types of services, find amazing and remarkable value and results, but not be willing to share your experience for fear that others judge you weak or deficient for needing help. You may be the type that would never consider these services for your own reasons. I know this. I hold space for you here.
I constantly strive to help educate and remove the unfounded stigma of this work. At one time, maybe even still today, getting mental health or addiction services was something one hid for fear of being labeled crazy or sick. Thanks to the truth telling of many, much of the stigma is removed and many people now feel less shame for seeking help with mental balance or overwhelm. There was a time where people didn’t go to chiropractors because the medical professionals defined them as quacks. As a result, people hid their experiences from others for being label foolish for using quackery. Thankfully chiropractors today enjoy open acceptance of their work and people refer their chiropractor often because they no longer have reason to hide. Given the expansion in human consciousness, and the growth in the human potential field I know it’s only a matter of time before this work is commonly understood and accepted. I’ve been doing my part all along.
Normally, I stand in my power. I am a force to be reckoned with: a born system-buster on a mission to help others thrive not just survive. I help people identify and remove the limitations, own their power, and heal their lives. I’m very proud of this work that has helped hundreds.
I realized that despite my openness and regardless of my profound belief in what I do, I sometimes still mask it. After speaking with my peers, I came to understand that others were sometimes doing this as well. In one example, a friend from a strong religious & cultural background mentioned that she doesn’t state her work around certain people or groups because her experiences of rejection, disregard, hassle, and threats were too unsettling. Another identifies the ‘part-time day-job’ rather than her passion because some people feel free to belittle and bully her.
Several months ago, I participated in a traditional, multi-day business development retreat. I’d made a significant financial investment to learn how to take my business to the next level so I can help more people unlock their potential and live their dreams. After thirty-plus years in corporate business, I knew what to expect. Knowing, that in a room of 50 entrepreneurs, there would be no one who did what I do, I felt like my work needed an approach different from theirs. They wouldn’t understand. Knowing the misconceptions and lack of understanding that exists in many minds, I realized I was scared to tell the truth. I wanted to be accepted and I feared rejection. I don’t scare easily, but this was certainly doing a number on my head.
I strategized about changing the language around my work. I searched my mind for neutral words that would convey my message without shutting people down even before they opened up. I practiced an introduction, which spoke of my work but didn’t name it. I hated the pain of hiding. I hated not telling the truth. I hated the squeeze between that rock and a hard place. I felt disempowered, inauthentic. This fear was catching in my heart, blocking my voice and it felt awful.
For 2 days I hedge the answers, I danced around the words, I deflected the questions by taking interest in their passions, their work, their successes. I remained quietly hiding hoping I wouldn’t be found in my private game of hide and seek. I was playing alone and no one was looking for me. Nearing the end of day two, the loneliness of hiding, hurt.
We know that only discomfort drives change. Something needed healing. I was getting damn tired and damn uncomfortable. I was getting angry with myself, ashamed of my fear as I made myself smaller, hoping not to be discovered. Then it happened, that call, “come out, come out, wherever you are”. I felt that nudge to throw off my invisible cloak, jump up and yell ‘surprise’. I resisted. Then I heard it again, “Who’s been playing small, nay, dipping their toes in the experience? “I wanted to stand tall, call myself out, but I was frozen in fear. Then, in one brave moment of betting it all, I found myself standing. I looked around and noticed a few of us. Whew, I wasn’t alone.
‘Tell us” I heard, ‘what do you have to say?’ He asked those standing. As the last to stand, I hoped to be the last to speak, to have that few moments, to clear the fear choking my voice, to find the strength to stop my legs and hands from shaking and to find the words to reveal myself, to make myself vulnerable: To stand in my authenticity and truth regardless of the outcome.
As in the Divine wisdom of all things, of course I was called to speak first. With a hard swallow, I lifted my head, I looked around the room, I met the eyes of the others, and I owned my truth. ” My name is Nora Helbich. I’m an intuitive healer and coach. I’m excellent at what I do and I can help you realize your dreams.”
In that moment, I faced my greatest fear. They didn’t look away, there was no judgement in their eyes. As the deafening fear subsided, I heard their clapping, I felt supported, accepted. I had grown, shifted. I stood in my truth. it may have been my most authentic moment so far. I was afraid but I faced it. While all that was great, the most wonderful thing happened after that. People approached me, interested, supportive, wanting to know more.
In the moment, I realized how my fear and lack of authenticity had held me apart from the people in this room, maybe people all through my life. I realized this fear caused me to have judgments about these strangers. I didn’t meet them openly. As in all things, the fear created a set of false beliefs that my mind held as limitations. By standing in truth I created opportunities and an openness that reaches out. I realized my actions gave strength to others. I was holding myself back in life because of the fear. Thankfully that’s over. Being truthful and authentic always feels better. I’ll never fear sharing my truth again. Or so I thought… (see tomorrow’s post)
Intuitive Healer & Life Coach