How many times in a week do you replay in your mind, things you’ve said, or conversations you’ve had? Do you sometimes replay these same conversations aloud with others?
How often do you second-guess yourself? Do you find yourself wondering how you are perceived, or how your intentions might be misunderstood by others?
If any of this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone.
Brené Brown, PhD LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston. For the last two decades, she has studied courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. In her book Daring Greatly Brené states:
“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
I relate to what a heavy burden it is to worry and care too much about what other people may or may not think.
The repeat lesson I’m grateful for, is that anytime I find myself shrinking or apologizing for who I am, I know I’m operating from a wounded place of feeling like I’m not enough.
Walking around wounded in the belief we aren’t enough (knowingly, or unknowingly) is an endless loop that traps us in unhappiness.
When our self-worth is tied up in our actions and relationships, we never get the feeling that we are okay exactly as we are – our worth becomes dependent on external forces.
In an effort to break free from the trap, it’s essential to nurture our wounds, and allow our true selves to take the lead.
We have to be okay being more of who we are – in all of our darkness and light.
“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.” – Wayne Dyer
Loving who we are, as we are – wounds and all – is a practice that requires grace, compassion and humor. Think of it as a step-by-step way to approach the day.
Here are 3 strategies I turn to when I need an added reminder to be unapologetically who I am. If these practices resonate, give them a try.
1. Replace Guilt with Love
Guilt will always knock us off course. When our actions stem from guilt, we aren’t being true to ourselves. Acting out of guilt, also sends mixed signals to the people we are in relationship with. Guilt leads to people-pleasing behavior, martyrdom and feeling as though our tank is always on empty. It’s challenging to be unapologetically who we are if we feel like we “should” be a certain way around others.
I’m blessed to still have my grandmother in my life, she is ninety-one. After my grandfather passed, we made the decision as a family to help my grandma settle in to a care facility. It wasn’t easy. It was especially hard on my mom. There was an immense feeling of guilt shared by all of us in the family. I still find myself wishing I had more time to be there with her, as I know time is limited and precious at this point. Being in the throes of raising a thriving family, is my top priority. Add to that, a business, running a household, and taking care of my health – and it becomes glaringly clear that time is not an abundant resource I have at this particular stage of life.
So how do I replace guilt with love and show up unapologetically as myself in this situation?
Well, my grandma loves cookies, and I happen to love baking cookies. So, each week I bring my grandma a batch of fresh cookies and we have a visit. If my kids aren’t partaking in one of their sports, I bring them and our little dog along for the visit. It isn’t always a long visit, but I fill her in on everything that’s happening in our lives. We stay consistently connected. I feel good about our visits and time together. I know she’s happy to see us, and she appreciates the cookies.
Sure, I wish I had more time and guilt can come creeping in sometimes. But I don’t let it stick around or influence how I show up. My main priority is to show up, express my love and be present with my grandma while I can. I appreciate and make the most of the time we do have, instead of apologizing for how I’m not able to show up. I don’t want to invite those weird feelings into our visit.
An act of love extinguishes the power of guilt.
Instead of worrying about you “should” show up, show up from a place of love. Love always paves the path to authenticity.
2. Don’t Take on Pushy People’s Agendas
Sometimes you’ll come across people in your inner and outer social circles who are pushy. These pushy people are fantastic teachers – especially if you have a hard time holding boundaries. Until you practice healthy boundaries, they will continue to show up in all of their pushiness. You’ll keep drawing in these same people, or similar people, who are quick to make demands and requests of your time, energy and light.
These pushy peeps often become trigger people and teachers. They become teachers because we can use how we feel when we’re around them, and how we react to them, as a barometer for how centered we are in our truth.
Instead of shrinking, overreacting, or caving in the presence of pushy people, practice how it feels to not take on their agenda as your own. It’s okay to say no – it doesn’t change who you are.
We can disagree without being disagreeable. Pushy people are often acting out of a wounded place, so don’t personalize their behavior. Send them love instead.
As for setting healthy boundaries, start with where you are. Make one small step at a time toward implementing boundaries with those who overstep. Reclaim your right to be unapologetically you.
3. Find Your Light and Know Your Center
The trick to showing up unapologetically as who we are, is to know who we are inside and out. If you don’t already have a self-reflection and self-awareness practice, start one in a way that suits you.
What is your definition of success and joy? Make a detailed list of what this looks like to you.
What are your usual triggers and stopping places? What causes you to shrink or feel less than who you are?
How might you nurture your wounds? When you fall of course, what helps you to get back on track?
How will you honor all aspects (not just the shiny parts) of who you are?
Being unapologetically who we are, is staying true to who we are, through all of the ups and downs in life. Sure, we will get knocked off center. But when we know who we are at our core, it’s easier to recalibrate when we go off course.
When we see our light and know our light, it’s easier to come back home when we find ourselves lost in the dark.
At the end of the day, who you are is always more than enough. Be unapologetically you.
Article written by Emily Madill, originally published on emilymadill.com.