Embracing Your Authentic Self

Theater Mask

Written by Schiviena Crawley

I am a Cincinnati native, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), licensed to practice in Ohio. I am committed to empowering others to overcome mental, emotional, and spiritual distress.

October 28, 2020

Where are you?

I don’t mean geographically or physically speaking, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually – where are you? If you have not been living underneath a rock or in a cave somewhere, then you know that the year 2020 has been as eventful as an entire decade. From a global pandemic, to perpetual racism, a revealing presidential election, and let’s not forget the typical stress of day to day living in America. It would be naïve, maybe even foolish to ignore the impact all of this has on our wellbeing. All of these things dramatically influence our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Self-Awareness Helps Us Embrace Our Authentic Selves

The value of self-awareness has never been more critical. When I ask, “where are you?” really what I’m asking is what do you feel emotionally? How are you functioning cognitively? Is your spirit hopeful or despondent? Do you feel close or far from God? Are you where you are supposed to be or are you someplace else?

Growth & Development

Regarded as an act of self-care, self-awareness is the ability to acknowledge our own thoughts, emotions, behaviors, motives, and desires. It is recognizing who we are, how we influence others, and how we’re influenced by the world. Having the courage to learn about our authentic selves is known as self-exploration. This knowledge of self is a sign of an emotionally mature person. Acknowledging our true thoughts, our raw emotions, and real patterns or habits affords us growth and development. A person who recognizes the rawest form of themselves is someone who has the highest potential for growth.

Denying or ignoring our thoughts, emotions, etc. doesn’t make them disappear and it doesn’t make them any less true. Whatever we suppress eventually rises to the surface, and if we’re not intentional about the unveiling, the reveal is not always pretty. We are complex beings comprised of not just a physical or spiritual self, but a mental, emotional, and social self as well. As multifaceted beings, we exist in both internal and external worlds. Our external world involves the people and things around us – what we experience through our 5 senses. Our heart holds our interior world. This is the seat of our soul: our thoughts and emotions; our dreams and desires; our hopes; our fears; as well as our judgements and beliefs. If we deny or cut off access to experiencing our whole self, we prevent ourselves from fully evolving.

Having our own (subjective) thoughts/beliefs and processing how we feel is what makes us who we are. Doing so separates us from others; not in a competitive way, but in a way that honors our unique individuation. When we allow ourselves to form and experience genuine thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, and emotions, we make space for the person we’re meant to be.

Enhanced Relationships

In addition to contributing to our growth and development, practicing honest reflection and self-awareness also presents us with the reward of enhanced relationships. The more authentic we are, the more connected we can be – with God, with ourselves, and with others. You know the episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will was dating “Gina (Tisha Campbell will always be Gina)?” https://youtu.be/1kNUDTyEgj4 They were stuck in the basement, sitting on a tricycle, and the girl was getting on his nerves. Largely because Will didn’t know “Gina” genuinely underneath the colored contacts, hairweave, press-on fingernails, etc. Of course, this was on a superficial level, but the same is true about masking what’s in our hearts – it keeps us from connecting on a more intimate level.

Imagine being asked to share your opinion by an employer, a business investor, a potential bae, or some other significant person, and because you have not accessed your own beliefs (or desires, etc.), you only tell them what they want to hear. Eventually, the mask of “false-self” slips off. Aside from that, who wants to be in relationship with someone who’s pretending or detached from themselves?

Allow Yourself To Fully Experience Your Thoughts & Emotions

We have to destroy the lie that showing emotion is weak. Lean into your emotions. See them as an invitation to explore your heart. I read somewhere that emotions are like the signals on a dashboard – they inform us that something within us needs attention. Personally, I’ve started to view my emotions as a beckoning to God. God cares about what we care about – even fear. Sure, He didn’t give us the spirit of fear, but He cares when we feel it. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sad, acknowledge that. Make it a habit to reflect on your internal world by asking these questions: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What makes me think/or feel this way? How do I really want to respond? If you are interested in therapy, schedule an appointment with me. https://scrawley.mytheranest.com/appointments/new You’ll grow and have more intimate connections with yourself and others from it.

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