I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people describe their authentic self, their voice, in these lustrous terms.  It’s loving and giving, making the world a better place and doing for others.  It’s speaking the unvarnished truth about things and seeing the world clearly. It speaks in ringing tones about everything that’s possible and looking to a bright and shiny future.  However, they are stuck because they can’t seem to get that voice out of themselves, they can’t seem to get past this or that or the other and they just feel stuck with all of these issues and emotions and old baggage that never seems to go away.  They need to get rid of it in order to move forward.

On the outside I make all the acknowledging noises, all the “I hear you” conversational responses because this is their experience of things and they are being honest, vulnerable, and open to the change they see as necessary to have a good and fulfilling life.  On the inside the Warner Brothers sound track where the character’s jaw elongates until it hits the floor, the eyes bulge out with an “Awhooga!” and steam comes shooting out their ears is happening.  Just…too…much…irony….overload….tilt!!!  All this time, years perhaps, their authentic voice has been trying to get out, has been trying to be heard, but the most significant person who needs to hear it, embrace it, and validate it is the one person who thinks it’s baggage that needs to be jettisoned.  The issues that are most important and which their authentic voice has been screaming about for all this time are the things the person wants nothing to do with and is seeking escape from.  *sigh*

So I try to help them see that authentic does not mean safe.  It doesn’t mean nice. It has nothing to do with socially correct or even polite.  It can be these things, but not to the exclusion of…um…let me think…oh yeah, authenticity.  Sometimes the authentic voice needs to be confrontational.  Sometimes it says No and actually means no.  Sometimes it needs to scream and have a tantrum and express all those things inside which are ugly and valid and perfectly appropriate to the moment and the person. As Brene Brown has talked about in her work, how can we get to that place of happiness and balance and compassion if we aren’t willing to look at the issues that are holding us back?  Setting boundaries, thinking of ourselves first and doing what is right for us is leading by example.  If we don’t do it for ourselves, if we can’t listen to our own authentic voice in all of its moods and with all of its messages, then how can we hear anyone else?