e.e cummings said "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."
And it's true.
First we need to stretch our wings and fly out from underneath our parents protection, not to mention their projections. Parents, even with the best of intentions, still have ideas of who and what we should be. Flying, or in some cases fleeing, the nest is stage one of the process. And it is a process which means it happens bit by bit, not all at once.
Even when we have our own place, our own friends and are making all our own decisions we still need to silence the voice in our head. It's the hangover from our parents. Their voice lives on in our heads ( and often on the end of the phone) reminding us of all the ways that we are not living up to our potential, the we are failing at life or just not being good enough
Moving past the soundtrack of our parents we also need to move past the Negative Nelly that seems to live inside all of us. She is a mixture of our parents voices, the voices of our teachers ( you know the ones who told us we needed to try harder, sit down, be quiet -anything but be ourselves) and messages we receive from all the media we have blasting at us 24/7.
How do we get those voices out of our head?
(1) First you have to know it's there.
Listen to how you talk to yourself when you are working on a project or when you are looking in the mirror or any time you are sitting quietly. Can you hear it now? Pay attention. This is not who you really are and you would not put up with anyone else talking to you that way.
Next time you hear yourself launching into all the ways that you suck imagine a big stop sign and say out loud "STOP" Take a moment and just breathe.
Re-frame whatever you were saying into a positive statement.
(3) Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Keep working on the way you speak to yourself. It will get easier but it does take time.
(4) Celebrate yourself .
You are doing great but I bet you never stop to acknowledge how far you have come. The trouble with that is we always wait for the big things; the promotions, the 10 pound weight loss, the new job, the new car and we get so busy waiting for all the big things that we forget to acknowledge that small improvements that we make, the consistent improvements. This is why AA works - they celebrate every day sober not just the 100 days sober. Make a point of finding something about yourself that you did well today and give yourself a pat on the back. You did good.
The next stage is finding our own authentic presence, our joy in being who we are and not who others expect us to be. For me part of that was changing my name. I never liked my birth name, Kathleen, it never felt like me. So I changed it first to my initials K.C which morphed into Casey. That suited me fine right up until I got divorced and again I felt like I needed a major shift. Out went my old name and in marched Caitlin. Not only that I also gave myself a middle name, Grace ( that is now my business name). Needless to say my parents weren't thrilled but it wasn't about them . It was me reclaiming myself.
None of us set out to upset or disappoint our parents BUT that may be a by product of you fully stepping into your true self. Hiding yourself so as not to disappoint them does everyone a disservice. It is painful to live that way and deep down they know that something is not right with you.
I can only imagine what it must be like for those that come out to their parents as Gay or Lesbian or Other. We all deserve to be seen and accepted for who we are and it is not an easy road to travel but it is worth it. Launching my book this month has been one of the most empowering steps on my journey. Stepping into myself and out from behind the clouds of others ideas of me feels liberating.
Are you living as your most authentic self? What is holding you back? I would love to hear your story in the comments.