Hi from Sophie.
Being your authentic self, flaws and all
Living your best life.
"We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity." Barbara de Angelis
What does being your authentic self really mean?
When I sat down to write about being your authentic self and admitting my own vulnerability, I really had no idea of the impact those words would have.
In my 25 years as a journalist and author, I have written about happiness and emotional wellbeing many times, including my book "Roadtesting Happiness." http://www.sophiescott.com.au/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
But nothing has touched a nerve as much as admitting my own imperfections and how disconnected and anxious I felt about the way I was living my own life.
I wrote what happens when you fight feelings of anxiety and vulnerability and are not 'your true self'.
When you shut those feelings off, you are disconnected from your authentic self and what brings meaning to your life.
I talked about how stepping out of my comfort zone had filled me with fear and that while we want to see vulnerability in others, we don't feel comfortable showing to ourselves.
I came to the realisation that I had not been living my authentic self.
While writing and reporting on public health, I have been too busy to exercise regularly, drank too many champagnes and wine "it helps thin the blood right?"
And I had put work commitments above my family, friends and even myself.
It was hard to admit but I am so glad it did because so many people got in touch with me to say they felt exactly the same way.
One woman wrote "I am grateful that you wrote your brave piece on vulnerability because it brought tears to my eyes as you admit to what so many people must experience (at least I do.)
"But we are too caught up in the whirlwind of work and relentless pressures to admit it to ourselves.
Your article was a real wake up call, a reminder to be strong and to take time for yourself, family and friends."
A parent of teenagers wrote to me "your words did move me and provoke me to rethink how I'm living my life.
"I have no idea of your intentions when you wrote that article, whether it was just cathartic for yourself but I thank you for sharing your reflections on your own lifestyle.
" I just want you to know that sharing your thoughts about and observations of your personal self can and does get to people. You got to me and I thank you."
When I started to read all the comments, I had to take a deep breath.
Did I really mean to be so brave and courageous?
I really don't think so.
My first, overwhelming thought with the reaction was now everyone knows how I really feel.
Ok, I can deal with that.
But my second and more important realisation was so much deeper.
I thought I was the only one who felt this way, but I was wrong.
I now realise that we are all so much more connected and similar than we think.
By allowing myself to show vulnerability and a sense of disconnection from 'my authentic self' it empowered so many others to say "hey, that's exactly how I feel like too."
Neuroscience research shows that the human brain is hard wired for connection.
UCLA professor of psychology Matthew Lieberman, explains it so well in his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.
"Being socially connected is our brain's lifelong passion. It's been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years."
And now I get why admitting your flaws and anxieties is so powerful.
It's because it fosters the power of the strong, hidden connection between us.
A retired ob-gyn doctor shared his thoughts about being your authentic self and the power of connection.
"Few of us are able to be our real selves all the time. We all live in little boxes and they all look the same, but so often we don't realise it."
"When I was in practice I helped many women with postnatal depression.
So many of the women felt they had to struggle through it alone."
He encouraged his patients to lean on their loved ones and reach out for support.
"Everyone needs to lean on people and take time out to charge those metaphorical batteries."
In the process of reading through all the stories you sent me, from men and women across the country, I saw that so many of us are afraid to let other people see ourselves as we really, truly are.
Living you authentic self isn't something that happens over one day, or even a week or month.
But seeking those strong connections with others, being kind to yourself and embracing imperfection are important steps on that journey.
Each day, ask yourself are you making time for connections that enrich your life and spirit?
And what are the practices, interactions with others and habits that really raise you up?
I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Sophie Scott is the ABC's national medical reporter. Subscribe to her blog.
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