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real self

What is ‘REAL’ anyway?

We can all spot things that are ‘fake’, can’t we?

That ‘Gucci’ handbag with the label that’s glued on wonky.

Those ‘bargain’ perfumes you can buy from market stalls that just smell nasty.

The politician’s smile that doesn’t make it to his eyes.

We have an internal radar for what’s fake and what’s real when it comes to things outside of ourselves.

But what about internally?

Many introverts I’ve spoken to say they  “want to be their real self.”

That really resonates with me. It’s what held me back for so many years, and I’ve now begun to peel back the layers and open up more.

Can you imagine what benefit there might be for you to be more of your ‘real self’?

I’ve been on a long internal journey, and for me, being ‘real’ can mean being ok with finding certain things hard, and not trying to pretend that I enjoy something (just because ‘everyone else’ does).

It’s enabled me to be kinder to myself, and given me permission to be more open and vulnerable.

Even just writing publicly ‘from the heart’ would have been impossible for me a few years ago. It would have felt too dangerous and exposed.

But as I peel back the layers and ‘expose’ myself to others, I realise that we’re all the same underneath.

Everyone gets scared sometimes.

We all have things we find hard.

We all long for love and acceptance, and to know that we’re not alone.

We are all naked underneath our clothes.

That knowledge makes me a feel a little braver, and to risk being seen for who I really am. And THAT allows me to step up and follow my calling, knowing that I’m being true to myself and fulfilling my potential.

How do you know when you’re NOT being real?

When I’m in a situation where I feel the need to ‘pretend’ I’m enjoying myself – when I’d actually rather go home – I get “butterflies” in my stomach and stay quiet. There’s also a voice in my head shouting at me to stay vigilant and ‘‘keep up’ with what’s going on.

It’s taken me a long time to admit that social situations take a lot of energy and are really stressful … even when they’re ‘good for me’.

So what are your warning signs? (and in what situations do they show up?)

Think of a situation where you feel you’re not being ‘real’ – and then focus on what’s going on inside your body, any feelings, or thoughts you hear. These are your personal warning signs.

For example, you might feel tightness in your throat, or tension in your shoulders, or you might have discomfort in your stomach, or even a headache.

And what can you do when you notice …

First, be present with what’s happening in the moment.

Take a slow, deep breath.

And breathe out …

Be gentle with yourself, and notice what’s happening in your body.

For example :

“Ok, I’m noticing that my shoulders are tight and my jaw is clenched”

Then take another full, gentle breath.

And breathe out …

And notice any thoughts you have in your head about what’s happening.

For example:

“Uh oh, it’s happening again, I can’t speak, I know everyone expects me to have lots to say, but it just won’t come out and everyone’s looking at me”

Take a few more full, gentle breaths, in and out.

Secondly, be compassionate and reassuring with yourself.

You can tell yourself that whatever is happening is OK.

For example:

“OK, it’s happening again, that’s fine, I’m aware of that, and it’s OK.

It’s OK that I can’t think of anything to say right now.

It doesn’t matter what people expect of me.

I’m safe.

The words won’t come out, and that’s OK.

One or two people are looking at me, and that’s because they care about me, and want to be sure that I’m alright.

Everything is OK, and I’m safe.”

Finally, give yourself what you’re needing in that moment.

Whatever it is, be it love, acceptance, acknowledgement, safety, you can imagine that much younger part of you, and give that child those things that it needs (as if you were giving them to a real child that you know).

You might feel a bit silly talking to yourself, but it really does work!

As you begin to give yourself what you really need, you release a bit of the pressure, and that will allow your best self to show through more and more.

Being your real self takes practice, and it’s not always easy. Remembering that we’re all the same underneath, we all long for love and acceptance, and to know that we’re not alone, and everyone feels the same way sometimes, might make it a bit easier. 

Over to You:

I’d love for you to tell me – how do you know when you’re not being ‘real’? What do you do when it happens to you ?

Please share your experiences and insights in the comments below – you never know who might be inspired by your words of wisdom!

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