Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 13: Authentic Fear, 2 Enemies of Personal Authenticity

“Just be you,” he chided.

His loving admonishment thrust like a spear right into the heart of the little girl inside me. The little girl who, occasionally, is still afraid that who she is may not be good enough, accepted, liked, loved or appreciated by those around her. And there I was – wearing my big girl panties and all – trying to walk bravely into yet another new environment (new church, new job, new civic group, new community) to be exposed to these possibilities all over again.

In those instances, it seems my most authentic attribute is my fear.

A woman’s tendency to hide herself is more of a defense mechanism than a flagrant stab at phoniness.  If we take the time to dig deeper, we’ll find it’s usually driven by two core fears:

  1. Fear of judgment (negative evaluation or criticism)
  2. Fear of rejection (loss or exclusion)

Somewhere along life’s journey we receive a false message that who we truly are isn’t good enough:

  • Maybe a unique aspect of our personality is mislabeled as a flaw – something negative or undesirable.
  • Maybe it seems someone sifts over all your good attributes simply to highlight your flaws.
  • Maybe a friendship or potential romantic relationship ends without warning or without explanation. Subconsciously, you draw the conclusion that something must be wrong with you.
  • Maybe – despite your best efforts to showcase your winning personality – that coworker, church member, neighbor or classmate just dislikes you for seemingly no reason at all. Again, you draw the conclusion that something must be wrong with you

Whatever the case, the pain that accompanies rejection and loss is not soon forgotten, and here is where the masks begin to appear. Without realizing it we trade our most authentic selves for whom we think may be more acceptable. And we do so in hopes of avoiding those painful waters of rejection ever again.

Does it work? Nope! You soon realize that even the mask(s) you’re wearing won’t please everyone. The vicious cycle continues. All the while the beautifully human woman God created you to be is dying to be set free.

Sound familiar?

Next time you feel yourself being less than authentic, stop and ask yourself this question:

What is the fear that’s driving me to cover up who I am in an effort to protect myself?

Join me next week as I share a few ways to embrace the beauty of you and defeat the desire to cover up or mask the real you.

#52weekstoBE

#becompletetlyyou

P.S. Maybe this isn’t your struggle, but it’s undoubtedly the struggle of a woman you know. If she crossed your mind while reading this post, please share it with her. The world is waiting for the beautiful woman she is to make an appearance.