One of the biggest teachings we learn as we deepen in awakening and authenticity is that there is no part of us that needs to hide. There are no thoughts, actions, or traits so unique that others haven’t experienced them too. Yet, few of us, myself included, feel completely comfortable with transparency. In my twenties, in an effort to attract dates, I purposely tried to dress and act in ways I thought others might find sexy or appealing. I tried to look like my friends; we were aiming for the images that fashion magazine and movie stars promoted. In my thirties, as a budding real estate agent, I remember intentionally donning a professional “mask” which reflected an image of what I believed others expected of me.
Along the path of awakening, we learn that the unconditional love and approval that we crave from others is really a completely inside job that begins with self-awareness of our inner terrain – the stuff we like about our self and the not-so-likeable — and at some point leads to being gifted with the blessing of unconditional self-acceptance.
We’ve been conditioned from birth to try to please others. . We’re taught early in life to behave, be quiet, be strong, be smart, and to do what we’re told. Some of this conditioning is very appropriate, of course, or there would be total mayhem. On the other hand, by the time we become an adult, much of our shining, authentic spirit can be muffled by conditioned patterns of approval seeking. This makes it hard to be our transparent, true self, and have authentic communication with anyone else.
We all have some darker aspects to our personalities. At times, we all feel anger, jealousy, competition, hatred, fear, greed, and many other socially “questionable” emotions. Why is it so hard to reveal our shared humanity? In the quiet recesses of our heart, there still lives a vulnerable inner child who is hungry for unconditional love and approval. That child wants so much to please, but at the same time, this inner child yearns to be seen for their true self. This sets up a lot of inner conflict, especially for those earnestly on the path of personal growth; for to reveal less than perfect traits can be quite uncomfortable and can bring up shame.
When we allow someone else to see our underlying quirks and patterns, it offers the other person an open door to vulnerability and honesty as well. If they take up the invitation, then we begin to experience true intimacy and real connection with another. The magic unfolds as we learn through experience that we can reveal vulnerable feelings and, at the same time, be loved for all that we have been trying so hard to hide.
Know that those who see your authentic self might either enjoy you, and want to engage with you, or might pull away. Not everyone is ready to be authentic. Either way, there’s a gift of freedom in being authentic. There’s a relief, an opportunity for deeper relationships, or perhaps a revelation of what is not a real connection. If you’ve been longing to be truly “seen” for whom you are inside, be courageous and take an honest look at yourself!