It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Having the Courage to Be Who You Really Are

courage

I have a question for you that just might unlock a secret and set your life on fire. 

Where do you hide your juice and authenticity? Where does your “self-image” thwart your self-expression?

I’ll put it another way. Do you sometimes “position” yourself to look/act the way you’re “supposed to”? I have news for you: The part of yourself you’re trying to deny-- is the dynamite that has all the power.

I muscled through my days as a corporate lawyer, hiding my poet and my mystic—even from myself. I remember those years as I listen to a coaching client sigh: “I’m a vampire. The real me only comes out at night when I play music.” But for me, there came a day when I wasn’t okay being the walking dead anymore. I had to breathe. I left my law firm—and I also left my identity. And I wrote my first book, This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love the manifesto of freeing myself that I needed to read.

You would think that was the end of hiding myself. But it’s not true. 

It turns out that growing is a continuous process of moving into the parts of ourselves we both love-- and fear.

Sometimes, we’re uncomfortable about our real desires and what they might ask of us. But true success demands we turn our shame or hesitation into freedom and conviction. Because your true identity has more power than the identity that you are trying to preserve.

Let me give you an example. 

Years ago, I was speaking in Los Angeles and a high-end client came to see me speak. I was doing a free talk at a New Thought church, not one of the talks where I’m on stage with a jumbo screen behind me. Mr. Litigator, I’ll call him, worked for a law firm with miles of black slate in the lobby, and attended my alma mater, Harvard Law School. His spine was military straight, and his sports jacket cost more than I would make from selling books at this talk-- or possibly any talk I do in this lifetime. His eyes slink around the room and I imagine what he is seeing. 

Of course, that day some volunteer steps up to make announcements and she is Rainbow Mama Extreme. Oh, I’m not talking about someone who just wears Birkenstocks and has ten cats. No, she is talking about the Goddess or Mother Earth and extraterrestrials, affirming how we are one with the whales and the baby seals and I lost track of what else. I stare at her ragged skirt, long brown gray tangled hair, and listen to her monotone voice as she “affirms” how abundant we all are. Sure, I’m a tiny bit judgmental. But it’s like the psychic signs I see lit in flickering neon in a sketchy part of town. You just have to wonder. 

I stare at Lawyer Man and at Goddess Girl, and painfully, I accept that I am having my own little psycho drama moment in public, two extreme versions of myself duking it out. The sassy, professional worldly me. And the one who is creative and spiritual, and who likes essential oils. I am both of these. I have a razor-sharp critical mind that freely shreds fake cheer or “out there” belief systems. And I also believe in a higher reality. I believe in love. I believe in a freedom that is sweet and divine and could not be explained or proven. I’m open to anything that helps people find their truth, even when people start talking about things like the Akashic records. I don’t think that making money is the benchmark of success. And yeah, I wouldn’t mind saving some baby seals.

But that day many years ago, I realized, and I’m not proud to admit this, I wanted to be in Lawyer Man’s club. I wanted to rest in the hushed halls of money and power and social validation. I didn’t want to appear naïve or as bright eyed as a puppy. I felt bad that I felt bad about some of the people who spoke my language. I wanted to rein in this part of myself that followed her heart and chose to walk off the mainstream path. When I imagined my world from Mr. Litigator’s eyes, I felt embarrassed to be part of this chakra opening, polar bear loving and mala bead club though I secretly embraced the values with all my heart. But if asked, I might disavow any knowledge.

But a few years ago, I had another experience. And I got to see how much I’d grown. I watched a young long-haired musician sing a song about being a change in the world. The message wasn’t new, but his passion was real and when passion is real it makes everything new. He sang something about how if we love first, things will change. And that’s when the truth cracked open in me. I felt something click into place. I suddenly wasn’t shy anymore or trying to homogenize.

 I flamed with dignity now-- and not embarrassment.

Because I believe that leaders do go first. We dare first. We may not have it all together yet, but we are daring. We are trying. 

We look suspect, stupid or unrecognizable. We look different. We don’t have social legitimacy yet. We may even stumble for a bit. But we speak first. We express what we know. We might not have the power of corporate funding behind us. But we have a different pipeline blazing in our veins, the power of integrity and the power of self-realization. I felt myself cross the line. I felt myself say inside—yes, I will serve. I don’t care what it looks like. I will love what I love and not what I’m supposed to love. Because everyone who makes a difference, is daring to be different.

So where do you hide your true leanings? Where do you try to fit in?

It takes so much energy to hold back your truth and your calling. Here’s one of the “5-minute mindset shifts” I offer in my book A Year Without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence:

“It takes so much energy to impersonate what you think others want you to be. It’s so tiring to keep up an appearance or role. Why not drop the effort to impress or hide? Honesty is exciting. Want more stamina and kick in your life? Stop propping up something that doesn’t stay up on its own.

Today, I drop the effort to impress or hide.” 

By the way, I still don’t identify with spirituality that is used as escapism or band aids. For me, real spirituality is the courage to go your own way in a noisy world and listen to the one voice within that speaks with clear love. And love isn’t just hearts and moons. It’s doing the work. it’s writing your book. It’s saying no to your child and yes to their well-being. It’s setting boundaries with your boss because you love yourself enough to live your truth in the light of day. It’s forgiving yourself for what you did not do in the past. Love isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s a walk in the dark when there is no moon, and all you have is your truth to guide you. It turns out I am lawyer man and rainbow woman. I am an integration. I am using all my strengths. I am embracing all of myself. I am all of us, as we probably all are, and. who knows, maybe that’s even in the Akashic records. But I’m all in. And that’s what matters.

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