Living authentically is easier said than done. It is, as the popular saying goes, “a process.” As babies, we begin our lives authentically, expressing ourselves freely – often loudly and in the middle of the night. Along the way, however, we receive many messages – usually unspoken – that tell us to act like someone else, hide parts of our personality, or doubt our own goals and views.
Understanding the Message
As much as parents want to love their children unconditionally, parents are human and everyone has their limitations. The result is that for many of us to truly live authentically we have to get past the message – which we internalized as children – that warned, “Don’t you dare.” Instead of being vengeful or angry toward our parents for their often-unconscious warnings, it can be helpful to try and understand where this message originated.
Take the example of a positive, energetic young woman who has her heart set on becoming a journalist. She envisions herself traveling the world and reporting compelling stories. She feels that making others aware of important political issues is vital to peaceful global relations and that this is part of her purpose. She expresses her desire to achieve these goals and, unfortunately, feels as if her mother does not take her seriously and, to her, it seems as if her mother is irritated by the subject and discourages her from pursuing this path.
Generations Change Opportunities
Where is her mother’s response coming from? Let’s take the compassionate view. Options for women have changed with lightning speed in recent decades – so fast that the options for an older woman can be in sharp contrast to those available to he daughter. A mother watching her daughter easily entertain options that the mother never had can make the mother realize what she missed in her own life. That can result in jealousy and resentment, even fear.
Perhaps the mother is still carrying around anger due to her own missed opportunities as a young woman and these can seep out in a series of little “attacks” directed at her daughter. Furthermore, if the mother believes that her only source of identity and success is in her role as a parent, she may begin to feel a void in her life once her children begin to show signs of independence. The message “Don’t you dare!” begins to show up from fear and loss of identity.
Similarly, some of us have heard “Don’t you dare!” from our fathers who saw their own value rooted in more traditional gender roles. Seeing a child turn into a successful, knowledgeable person who is a leader can be very threatening to a father who identifies himself largely as a provider to his children. The message of “Don’t you dare!” results from his fear that his status as father is becoming obsolete, not from a conscious will to stifle his own children.
As we venture out into the world as adults, we carry negative messages with us. They can begin to hold us back from important decisions and choices that we face. They can impede or prevent us from fulfilling our dreams, visions, and life purposes. How we respond to negative messages is entirely up to us and often requires a good deal of courage. Each of us has unique gifts to bring to others and we were meant to thrive and to shine our light for everyone else to see and learn. As Esther Abraham-Hicks said, “You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get better. You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive. It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. If you’re wanting to be of an advantage to others, be as tapped in, turned in, turned on as you can possibly be.”
What messages have we internalized as a result of someone else’s fears? What do we dare not do because of an unspoken warning that we have received? If we are to move forward and ‘dare’ to do what we have been warned not to – it is necessary to dare in order to live authentically – what reaction do we fear from others?
Shine Bright; Show the Way
Defy your detractors by shining brighter than they ever said you should shine. Then, take the hand of those detractors and show them the way to finding their own authentic selves – by living authentically. The most powerful way to teach is by example. Provide inspiration and a generous and compassionate response to those who are negative toward and fear our changes. “A rising tide lifts all boats!” It is never too late for anyone who has felt stifled to pursue his or her own authentic path.
We have tons of resources available for you. To address negative messages, you can try recycling, dark side check, elevators, and more!
To check out a comprehensive list of ways you can help your light shine brighter, visit our Resources page here: https://www.hoffmaninstitute.org/resources/