Finding Your Authentic Self
©Copyright: All Rights Reserved, Laurie Geary, 2002



To be AUTHENTIC = genuine, veritable, bona fide, being actually and precisely what is claimed; not imaginary or false (Webster's Dictionary):

What does being authentic mean to you? Words that come to mind: being centered or present…in the moment… feeling joyful, loving – at peace with the universe. I know when I’m being authentic I feel confident, focused, energized, creative, and playful. When I am authentic I am congruent with my feelings and thoughts and behaviors; when I am authentic I express myself honestly and freely; when I am authentic I have the best chance to reach my potential, to connect with my passion, to create my perfect life, and to become fulfilled and self actualized. Being authentic is the Real Me, my true Self I believe that living my true, whole Self is the only way to be happy and at peace. Finding and expressing my authentic self is crucial to achieving high self esteem.

Authenticity cuts through our layers of defense. Like peeling the layers off an onion, when we are authentic we peel off the layers of our false self when we feel safe enough to express our honest feelings and thoughts. It takes courage to be authentic because we open ourselves up to criticism, confrontation, and negative feedback. The Authentic Me is open and vulnerable and raw – totally present to the moment.

The Authentic Me is unique; there is no one else like me in the whole universe. According to Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness we become most authentic when we recognize and tap into our "signature strengths" – our unique characteristics. And it is only by tapping into our signature strengths that we achieve authentic happiness.. Yet being authentic means expressing all my feelings, not just happy ones. Feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, and frustration are all parts of whom we are. It may be more difficult to express these feelings, yet we will feel more connected to ourself when we express what’s real.

WHAT IS REAL? (by Margery Williams from THE VELVETEEN RABBIT)

What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick out handle?

REAL isn't how you are made" said the Skin Horse. It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves your for a long,long time, then you become REAL

Sometime, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful, when you are REAL you don't mind being hurt.

Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, he asked, or bit by bit?

It doesn't happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop off, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all because once you are REAL you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand

Are you REAL? Do YOU really know yourself? Are you in touch with what you really want? need? value? love? Can you ask for what you want? Can you say NO to what you don’t want? Are you aware of your preferences? your interests? Are you happy with your choices? your decisions? are you congruent with your thoughts/feelings and behaviors? are you able to express feelings that may elicit negative reactions from others? Who are you, really?

Nothing shapes our lives so much as the questions we ask. Questions demand an answer; questions create a gap that needs to be filled. When we ponder a question an answer will eventually come to us.

Finding our authentic self is difficult for most of us and more so for girls/women. Years of pressure to conform to familial and societal and cultural expectations cause women to lose sight of whom they really are and to lose touch with what they really want and need. Women are conditioned to care for others first… to put their needs second…thus becoming alienated to themselves.

Researcher Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice, found that girls lose their voice at about age thirteen. Girls become afraid to speak up for fear of losing their boyfriends. They are willing to give up their authenticity in order to be in relationship with HIM.

Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, also found that girls (women) end up trading their authenticity for what they perceive as survival, terrified to swap security for their heart’s deep desires… in order to become authentic, (women) have to give up something dear: a job, a house, a relationship, a belief, a lifestyle, security, money, precious time. To be authentic we need to believe that what we gain is worth the price of what we lose. There are people who choose superficiality over authenticity because the price is too dear.

When we are young our parents make clear their expectations. We want to be loved and we want to please. Our significant others (parents, family, friends, colleagues, community..) let us know what we can do to please them. The more we please them by molding ourselves to their images of us, the more we lose touch with our true Selves. Many people are not even aware that they are not Real (Authentic). Thus, awareness is the first step to finding one’s authenticity.

For me it has been easier to be aware when I am not authentic; in comparison I can then know what is being authentic. I have learned to notice the symptoms when I am out of touch with my Self…when I am feeling disconnected, alienated, false or "fake." And, I have gradually become aware that I pay a big price when I am not authentic.

"Costs" to living the unAuthentic Life:

  • Psychosomatic symptoms: headaches, ulcers, anxiety, sleeplessness, lack of energy,
  • Disconnection from self; false self: others don’t know the Real Me (nor do I)
  • Others take advantage of me by asserting their needs over mine
  • Feelings of boredom, unease, unhappiness, sadness, depression
  • Low self esteem
  • Destructive behaviors: alcohol, drugs, sex, conflict avoidance, unassertive
  • Dishonesty; being out of Integrity.

I think I lost touch with my Self early on. As a little girl I was very shy and eager to please. It was much easier to go along with whatever my mother wanted. And if I expressed opinions or desires different from hers, a conflict ensued; so it was easier to go along with her by keeping quiet. She made all the decisions for us: what to wear to school, what to eat for dinner, where to go on vacation… so I didn’t know what I really wanted.

Like Gilligan’s teenage girls, I feel I lost my voice early on also. My desire to be loved and accepted meant that I focused on pleasing others rather than pleasing myself. Then I lost touch with what I needed to please myself.

Then I married at 19 and passed the decision-making onto my husband. It wasn’t until after my divorce (28-year marriage) that I realized how much I had lost touch with my Self. I had a hard time making the simplest decisions: how I wanted to spend my time, where to go for dinner, where to live, what kind of car to buy, where to travel. I wasn’t used to having choices or thinking about what I really wanted.

I had no idea who I was now that I was no longer a wife and mother and daughter. During my marriage I paid many of the ‘costs’ of being unauthentic: I was unassertive, I avoided conflict, I was always trying to please others. As wife and mother I had learned to subjugate my own needs to the demands of my children and my busy physician husband. When I became single I found it hard to know what my needs were. It has taken me years of self observation and self assessment, therapy, coaching, and training, to find out what I really need and want. I often find myself paralyzed with making a decision or I feel anxious when my needs conflict with a friend’s. I still want to please others. However, the difference is that now I notice when I am doing this and that motivates me to be more authentic.

Age may also play a factor in my becoming authentic. As I get older I am less worried about what other people think…I don’t need to please others so much. I realize that time to be real is now or never; if I’m not authentic now, when?

Sid Simon wrote about the IALAC (I am Loving and Capable) concept. In this allegory of the self he narrates a typical day for a little boy: how he gets up each morning and puts on his IALAC sign. Throughout the day he loses pieces of his sign (his Self) when others make demands or criticize or hurt him. At the end of the day he has lost most of his IALAC. Whenever I am not authentic it feels like I am losing pieces of my Self as IALAC. Being authentic is how I can feel IALAC.

Being authentic is takes more than being aware; authenticity demands action. Being authentic means being congruent with one’s inner awareness and one’s outer behavior. It takes courage to be authentic. To be authentic often means expressing unpopular opinions and taking unpopular actions; to be authentic can create disharmony and conflict because we risk disapproval or loss of relationships. Yet not living an authentic life means losing your Self, creating inner disharmony and inner conflict. Ultimately this disharmony is harder to live with; I have become convinced of this.

Learning to take responsible risks can help us move towards our authentic self. We can learn how to build our risk muscle by following the <8 R’s of Remarkable Risk-Taking> so that we can become all we can be.

Being in relationship with significant others and friends and family can bring out our authenticity…or not. I believe that we all have within us buds of our authentic potential. Each relationship we are in will connect with our dormant buds and cause them to grow and blossom. Our relationships can help us grow into our authenticity…or they can squelch our growth. We need to become more aware of the influence of our relationships.

Over the years I have learned to tell when I am not being authentic in other significant relationships. I have noticed this in my relationships with men. With my husband, I rarely asserted my needs and wants. Once I was single I found I followed the same pattern. With one man I ignored it when he broke promises (to call me or to come over); I didn’t say no to his unreasonable requests; I avoided conflict; I let him think I was someone I was not (I portrayed a False Self). I thought by acting this way I would not lose him. Not so. I lost my Self and I lost him anyway. But I learned.

With another man I began to notice that I felt bored most of the time in our relationship; I couldn’t be my whole self with him or he felt intimidated. I knew if I expressed my needs and wants our relationship would end, but I have learned to express my needs and feelings sooner because being unauthentic isn’t worth it. The relationship ended, but I know it was a good thing for me. I felt more authentic. I trust that my authenticity will attract someone who appreciates and values the Real Me.

Now, in my relationships with friends and family I try to speak up more often when our needs conflict; I try to voice my needs and wants immediately when I am aware of them. I also notice that I have attracted more women friends who are authentic themselves. Their courage to be authentic inspires me and they also encourage and support me in my efforts to be authentic.

Having authentic role models can help us know how to be authentic ourselves. We women especially ought to seek out authentic women role models who can show us the courage to be real. We can find them in books, in politics, in leadership roles; we can find them if we look around and acknowledge their authenticity. Unfortunately women suffer from having few authentic role models, in life or in books. In history books there is a notable absence of women heros; in novels there is an invisibility of the female character…which creates a sense of powerlessness and actively undermines self confidence…virtually every serious work in English and American literature that portrays a woman as a major character point out in some way the deleterious effect of the feminine role. (The Female Hero in American and British Literature)

Other people can show us how to become authentic too. Therapists will help us dig deep to uncover the layers of our false self; coaches will help us move forward to become the authentic person we are meant to be. Joining a support group can provide the base of trust and caring needed to inspire and support you to become authentic. Asking your friends and family to support you in your authentic growth path is essential.

Theoretical models help me better understand the path to authenticity which involves self awareness and self assertion.

The Johari Window is a model that provides a visual framework on how we can become more self aware and thus more authentic. Through self disclosure and receiving feedback I learn more and more about myself.. The more I tell you the things I know about me, and the more you tell me the things you know about me, the more I will enlarge my open area and thus the more I will know about myself. According to psychologist Sidney Jourard: no man can come to know himself except as an outcome of disclosing himself to another person. We must know ourselves in order to be authentic. (Contact laurie@ingearcoaching.com for the Johari Window model.)



Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is another model that provides a visual framework on how we can reach authenticity by satisfying our needs in a hierarchical fashion. Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who studied people with high self esteem; he was especially interested in what made people reach their potential, what he called self-actualization. Self Actualization is Authenticity.

Self Actualized people had more frequent peak experiences: those moments of heightened awareness, sense of wholeness, congruence, joyfulness, and fulfillment. According to Maslow's theory, self actualization is reached only through satisfying ones’ needs in a hierarchical fashion. Level I needs are physiological (food, water, health, shelter); Level II needs are psychological (emotional and physical safety); Level III needs are social (relationships); Level IV needs are achievements. We cannot reach Level V, self Actualization, until we have satisfied all our lower level needs first.

According to Maslow, we cannot become our self actualized/authentic selves until we have first satisfied, hierarchically, our basic physiological, psychological, social, achievement needs.

This theory helps me understand the times in my life when it was impossible for me to be authentic; understanding helps me not be so critical of myself. For example, when I first divorced I had to deal with satisfying my lower level needs all over again: I had to find a new home, establish new relationships, find new ways to achieve professionally. Now that I am more stable, my foundation of needs is more solid, I can work towards being more authentic. I can search to find the real me through self actualization.

Since loss of Self erodes gradually, over time, it takes time to find your Authentic Self. You can satisfy your hierarchy of needs by building a solid pyramid or you may need to go back and rebuild parts of your pyramid. You can become an authentic archeologist…an inner explorer…digging and searching for the lost parts of your Self. Sculptor, Michelangelo, said that all he had to do was chip away the outer layer of the marble to find the beautiful sculpture within. We need to chip away at our outer layer in order to find the inner sculpture of our unique, authentic Self .

Yet, how does one go about finding, excavating, sculpting our Authentic Self?

Start with describing your Self: Who are you, really?

  • What are your physical attributes and abilities?
  • What are your roles? Who are you in each of your roles? (eg. mother, daughter, sister…)
  • What are your characteristics?
  • What are your skills?
  • What are your competencies? (characteristics + skills=what is special and unique about you?)
  • What are your talents?
  • What are your preferences?
  • What is important to you?
    • what are your values?
    • what are your needs?
    • what are your wants?
    • what are your interests?
    • what are your goals and dreams?
    • what brings you passion?
  • What is your life purpose?

It can help if you ask your significant others/colleagues/family to answer these questions too; how would they describe you?

Another way to discover who you are is by using a variety of written assessments. There are many assessment tools available. You can take assessments to determine your life balance (Clean Sweep) clarify your true values (TruValues), determine your real needs (Needless), understand your interests (Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, understand your personal preferences (MBTI:Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), or understand your personal style (DISC). There are also assessments which give you feedback from others (360degree) to learn more about how you are perceived. Professionals can help you interpret your assessment scores to help you become much clearer about who you are.

Attending personal growth workshops or seminars, taking courses, going to retreat centers, reading self help books or listening to self help tapes, are all methods to help us learn to become more authentic. We can learn skills to help us ASK for what we want, say NO to what we don’t want (and YES to what we do want); making decisions, solving problems, and being a leader. We can learn ways to become more self aware through the use of meditation, relaxation, and visualization. Taking the time to do self awareness exercises will help us learn more about who we are and what we want and need.

Be OBSERVANT: Stop – Look – Listen. Be constantly on the lookout for what excites you... inspires you...brings you happiness and fills you with passion. We must learn to savor the small, authentic moments that bring us contentment. Sara Ban Breathnach. And, be sure to notice when you are not being authentic.

You can learn to listen to your intuition or be an open receiver to your Callings.* We must learn to pay attention to our inner messages that tell us what we want and don’t want. We must learn to be congruent with our actions and feelings. We need to say what we mean so others know US.

To be authentic we must also live with integrity; we need to be honest because keeping secrets diminishes our ability to live an authentic life. Secrets kill intimacy; secrets destroy friendships; secrets damage families; secrets block personal growth;. We think we’re hiding our secrets, but our secrets are really hiding us. Harboring dark secrets, lying, pretending, trying to be someone you’re not…all of these things are weights that prevent you from reaching your greatest potential. Oprah Winfrey. To be authentic we must have a good reputation with ourselves; we need to respect ourself.

Writing can be one of the best ways to discover your true feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs. Putting words to paper helps us become more focused; writing things down helps us understand what we are thinking and feeling in order to become clearer about what we want and need. Numerous authors emphasize the importance of writing for self discovery. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way encourages us to write daily morning pages to get in touch with our Self; Sara Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance encourages us to write daily dialogues in order to get in touch with what we are grateful for and to find our personal map of individuality. Ira Progoff teaches the Intensive Journal Workshop to facilitate self discovery and personal growth through writing.

Whatever method you use to write will help you discover your authentic self. Keep a Reading Journal to record what you have learned or quotes/phrases you find meaningful; Keep a Dream Journal to record your dreams to uncover your deepest desires and concerns; Keep an Event Journal to keep track of important places, experiences, new relationships; Keep an Illustrated Discovery Journal: draw or cut out pictures, post photos, paste objects/materials that give a visual rendering of the real you; Keep an Authentic Journal to keep track of the times you notice when you are being authentic (or when you’re not).

Developing an Authentic Attitude may be the most important course of action to find the Real You. Acknowledge and accept yourself: We learn how to reveal to the world our unique radiance only after we acknowledge it ourselves. (Sara Breathnach, Simple Abundance). Acknowledge yourself for all your efforts to be authentic. People see us the way we see ourselves, so see yourself positively.

Let yourself be SELFISH: always take care of yourself first because an empty cup cannot pour out anything. We must be sure we are healthy and fit; we need to nourish ourselves with healthy food, get lots of aerobic exercise and plenty of sleep. We need to relax, de-stress, and take time for ourselves. Being selfish means self care. We can’t give others’ care or support without having something within us to give. Remember the airlines’ advice: you need to put on your breathing mask before you can help anyone else. We need all our energy to be authentic

Give yourself an "A" and then earn it! Benjamin Zander, author of The Art of Possibility discusses the value of finding your specialness (your "A") and finding a way to express it without judgment. Like our inner sculpture, we all have an "A" within us – we just need to BE our "A" by allowing our natural authentic self to unfold.

Learn to quiet the negative self talk that wears you down and lowers your self esteem. Learn to use positive self talk to bolster your authenticity.

Affirmations are strong, positive statements said as if they are already true: I am lovable and capable; I am authentic; I am happy with myself. Affirmations can be used to quiet the negative self talk. By creating a gap between who we are now and who we want to be, affirmations move us naturally to close the gap. Affirmations can be a powerful technique to help us become the authentic person you tell yourself you are.

We need to be Attractive to be Authentic. Attraction is much more than your physical appearance; attraction is your inner and outer beauty. Attraction is all of you. People notice your physical appearance: your hair, your clothes, your body language. Physical appearance is important because it gives the first impression of YOU. You want your outer Self to match your inner Self; being authentic means being congruent. You want people to see the real you. Attraction is your ability to attract into your life what you want and need. When you are authentic you are attractive.

Our Environments have a powerful impact upon us. We can create an environment that will support and inspire us to become authentic. Our environments include the people around us as well as the sounds, sights, and happenings. Our environments can drain us or they can grow us. We need to identify and then reduce or eliminate all the things that keep us from being all that we can be. Tolerations, all the clutter in our life that gets our path for personal development, can be systematicly eliminated. By creating a space, we then have more room to add all the things that grow us. We can create environments that will nourish, support, inspire, encourage, and challenge us. Our environments can help us be more authentic.

Moving to Spain when I was a teenager changed me immensely. Part of who I am now was created by the environment of a different culture. Speaking Spanish has impacted my life professionally and personally. I also developed a sensitivity to diversity that I never would have had had I remained in southern California.

When I divorced I was living in a suburban community of mostly families and couples. I lived in a beautiful house. I realized, however, that that environment would always make me feel that I was not whole…since I was no longer a wife and mother. I decided to move to the city, into a small condo, where I was part of an environment that supported the single life style. Here I feel whole and independent and interesting.

As a professional coach, I create environments that will continue to "grow me" professionally: I attend conferences and professional meetings, I participate in courses and workshops, I go to professional networking events.

By being conscious of my environments I can create and immerse myself in those that will help me become who I want to be – Authentic ME

CONCLUSION

Finding your Authentic Self will take time; we need to be patient! We first need to work on becoming more aware: noticing when we are not being authentic…and noticing when we are being authentic. Then our behaviors need to match our awareness. We need to be congruent with our inner feelings/thoughts and our outer behaviors. Authenticity means living our truth – being our Real Self. We can learn to become more authentic with the help of others: our support system, mentors, authentic role models; we can actively participate in life long learning methods; we can pay attention to our environments; we can work on our self esteem and our belief system. By focusing on our Self we can discover who we really are…and Become Authentic.

Bruce Springsteen sang that growth is always "three steps forward, two steps back." Don't be discouraged; trust in yourself. All you have to do is accept yourself and know that you are unique and special...You are O.K!

Related Essays (all can be found in my newsletter archives)

Create Environments that Grow You

Reducing Tolerations

Attracting What You Want into Your Life

Creating A Perfect Life

Finding Your Passion & Purpose

Gidget Goes to the Convent

 

TWENTY TIPS for FINDING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

1. Use ASSESSMENTS

2 – ATTITUDE: Be SELFISH, Give yourself an <A>, Replace Negative Self Talk with Positive Self Talk;

ACKNOWLEDGE and ACCEPT your SELF: Believe in your Authenticity. Trust in Yourself.

3 – WRITE: Keep a JOURNAL; write morning pages, write your autobiography; write your life story.

keep an achievement journal; a risk journal

4 - MEDITATE and REFLECT; Go on a RETREAT or a SOLO to be in an environment created for self/soul searching.

5 - Make a COLLAGE or a PERSONAL TREASURE MAP or an ILLUSTRATED DISCOVERY JOURNAL - DRAW a SELF PORTRAIT on butcher block paper..

6 – Create ENVIRONMENTS that grow you. Remodel and Redecorate your environment to allow for your authenticity to blossom. Create a space.

7 - Become irresistibly ATTRACTIVE* Have a LIFE MAKEOVER: Work with an Image Consultant to discover your own personal image. Learn how to project your authentic flair through your personal appearance.

8. - Take RISKS to GROW: Learn how to take responsible risks that will help you grow into the authentic person you want to be. (*see Risk to Grow and A Guide to Getting It: Self Esteem – chapter on Risk-taking)

9 - Be at CHOICE: Choice is at the heart of authenticity: each day you create yourself through your choices. Pay attention to all your choices (and, remember, not choosing is also a choice)

10. Be ASSERTIVE: ASK for what you want, Say NO to what you don’t want; Set BOUNDARIES; raise your personal STANDARDS.

11 – Take Personal Growth WORKSHOPS/ COURSES* & TELECLASSES*-

Read Personal Growth/Self Help BOOKS and listen to TAPES. Be a life long learner – an authentic archeologist – a creative sculpture.

12 – Do SELF AWARENESS EXERCISES that will help you find your authentic self more easily:

a. Who am I? Take ten sheets of paper. Write on the top of each one the words: Who am I? Then write, on each sheet, one answer to that question. At the end of the ten sheets you'll have the same question written, but ten different answers. Now go back over the ten again and looking at each answer, write below it on each sheet what turns you on about that particular answer. Now go back over the ten sheets and arrange them in order of priority; your most important identity goes on top. Finally, go back over the ten sheets and determine what turns you on ....see if there are any common denominators.

b. I Want…..Take ten sheets of paper and on top of each sheet write: I want…

Keep a running list of all that you want in your life.

c. 8 ROLE exercise: List all your roles. Now prioritize them. Now get in a relaxed, meditative state and, one by one, starting with number 8, focus on each role: what are the costs? what are the benefits? Who are you in this role? Now take eliminate that role. Do this for each role. Finally, after eliminating the final role - Role number one - focus on who you are without all your roles. This is your core...your Being…Who are you, really?

d. Write your LIFE STORY/Autobiography – who were you at age 5? 11? 16? 21? 30? 40? 50? Look for patterns of personal preferences and pleasures and passions.

List your achievements, your strengths, things you are proud of; keep track of compliments you have been given; write down what you have learned about yourself through assessments, feedback, trainings and workshops.

Keep note cards or a notebook or a tape recorder near you. Whenever you make an observation or have a thought about yourself, write it down/record it. Later you can record these observations in your journal.13 – Use AFFIRMATIONS: Find, write, and repeat daily affirmations that will get you in touch with your SELF: IALAC: I am lovable and capable "I am what I am and I am wonderful "I am Me and I am O.K. "I am the woman I’ve wanted to be. Learn the 8 rules for writing affirmations-and write.

14 – Use VISUALIZATION: Visualize yourself as the person you are and the person you are meant to be: close the gap! Combine visualization with affirmations for a more powerful experience. Create a collage of pictures and photos that will help you visualize.

15 – Reduce TOLERATIONS: Clear away the clutter and energy drains in order to have the time to become the person you want to be. Create a SPACE: Stop being so busy; don’t be an adrenalin addict unable to know what you really want and need. Slow down, relax, be real.

List 100 tolerations…and eliminate them one by one.

16 – Use your SUPPORT SYSTEM: Surround yourself with people who will support and love you; people who recognize and acknowledge your specialness. Join or form a SUPPORT GROUP. Find ROLE MODELS; seek out MENTORS to show you the way to authenticity.

17 - Use PROFESSIONALS - Work with a COACH or a PSYCHOTHERAPIST to help you uncover the real you and to identify actions to take to reach your full potential.

18 - Be HONEST - Uncover SECRETS:

a) Admit the secret to yourself

b) Tell at least one person

c) Tell the person you are closest to (especially if the secret hurts them)

d) Tell anyone whom you will be upset if they knew

19 - Be CONGRUENT with your actions and feelings. Say what you mean; act in accordance

to your feelings and thoughts. Use disclosing I-messages not you messages.

20 - Be OBSERVANT – Listen to your intuition; pay attention to your Callings; notice what brings you Passion.

 

RELATED QUOTES:

KNOW THYSELF - TO THINE OWNSELF BE TRUE

BE HERE NOW. Ram Dass

To Be or NOT to Be, that is the question. Shakespeare

Many women today feel a sadness we cannot name. Though we accomplish much of what we set out to do, we sense that something is missing in our lives and -fruitlessly - search "out there" for the answers. What's often wrong with that we are disconnected from an authentic sense of self. Emily Hancock

Beauty is an internal light, a spiritual radiance that all women have but most women hide, unconsciously, denying its existence. What we do not claim remains invisible. Marianne Williamson

by Sara Breathnach:

We must learn to savor the small, authentic moments that bring us contentment;
Passion is the muse of authenticity
The Authentic Self is the soul made visible.
Our deepest wishes are whispers of our authentic self

All you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal herself. All you have to do is be still and take time to seek for what is within, and you will surely find it. Eileen Caddy

It is never to late to be what you might have been. George Eliot

It's never too late to have a happy childhood. Gloria Steinem

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive. Robert Louis Stevenson

As long as one keeps searching, the answers come. Joan Baez

There’s nothing heavier than the burden of potential. Peanuts

Most of us die with our music still inside us. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Until you make peace with whom you are, you’ll never be content with what you have. Doris Mortman

We are a different person with a different man (woman), for all parts are authentically within to be coaxed out one by one person or another, by one set of circumstances or another. Anita Shreve

When something within us is disowned, that which is disowned wrecks havoc. Ralph Blum

Sometimes you have to get lost in order to find yourself. Burt Reynolds in Deliverance

If one is a Greyhound, why try to look like a Pekinese? poet, Dame Edith Sitwell

The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for. Oscar Wilde, Irish Playwright

Every man is the architect of his own fortune. Sallust, Roman historian.

I do not want to die…until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown. Kathe Kollwitz, German sculptor

Human beings have an inalienable right to invent themselves. Germaine Greer, Australian writer

To want to be what one can be is purpose in life. Cynthia Ozick, novelist

POEMS

MY DECLARATION OF SELF ESTEEM by Virginia Satir

I am me.

In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. There are persons who have some parts like me, but no one adds up exactly like me. Therefore, everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone choose it.

I own everything about me...my body, including everything it does, my mind, including all its thoughts and ideas; my eyes, including the images of all they behold; my feelings, whatever they may be...anger, joy, frustration,love, disappointment, excitement; my mouth, and all the words that come out of it: polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect; my voice, loud or soft; and all my actions, whether they may be to others or to myself.

I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.

I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.

Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing I can love and be friendly with me in all parts. I can then make it possible for all of me to work in my best interests.

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for the solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me. This is authentic and represents where I am at that moment in time.

When I review later how I looked and sounded, what I said and did, and how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting. I can discard that which is unfitting, and keep that which proved fitting, and invent something new for that which I discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.

I own me, and therefore I can engineer me.

I am me and I am O.K

FINDING HER HERE by Jayne Relaford Brown

I am becoming the woman I've wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that's known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she's a survivor -
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep weathered basket.
I am becoming the woman I've longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons and sunrises.
I find her becoming,
this woman I've wanted,
who knows she'll encompass,
who knows she's sufficient,
knows where she's going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she's precious,
but knows she's not scarce-
who knows she is plenty, plenty to share.



Recommended BOOKS/Resources:

Simple Abundance, by Sara Breathnach
Be Your Best, by Linda Adams
A Guide to Getting It: Self Esteem, co-authored by Laurie Geary
Risk to Grow! by Laurie Geary
IALAC, by Sid Simon
Johari Window
Abraham Maslow

Ira Progroff Websites: www.aperfectlife.com - www.attractionu.com - www.teleclass.com


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