The poet says, “What I am is me, for that I came.”
In my book, I HATE THE MAN I LOVE, I discuss the importance of being in your essence to achieve what I refer to as relational maturity. What is our essence? It is our authentic self; not the self that has survived throughout the years by adapting to others who have influenced our early years of development. These early years of development are the foundation of who we become as we mature. Too often we abandon our authentic self, in order to survive the dysfunction in our families and outside forces that may have caused trauma and forced us to wear a survival suit, covering our essence. Our survival suit was created to protect us, but just as a bird is kept in a cage for protection from the elements, at the same time it limits its ability to fly and be free.
How do we discover our authenticity?
It is a process; not an event. It takes time to unveil the survival suit and cannot be done without the help of a qualified therapist, just as it is impossible to remove a gall bladder without a surgeon. There is natural resistance in taking away something that has served us well as children. It is only when we realize what was in our best interest no longer provides the same intention and outcome when we are adults. In fact, staying safe inside our survival suit only prohibits our growth from becoming a healthy mature adult.
Not being an art aficionado, however recognizing the basic elements of art with all great artists, is their ability to be who they are. In fact, they have no choice. They are compelled to be in their essence to create their masterpieces or compositions. This is true for anyone who is passionate about their work, whether, artist, musician, dancer, writer, athlete, etc. If denied that authenticity, they could not produce the greatness that we are all fortunate to share throughout the centuries. However, this does not mean to say that their essence is projected in other dimensions of their personality. One can be an great artist or musician and fail miserably in relationships not unlike Van Gogh, Albert Einstein, Tiger Woods, and Diego Rivera, just to mention a few. Being in your essence is mandatory for relational maturity. We need to reflect our authenticity that must be integrated; not just compartmentalized.
The Relationship of Authenticity and the Inner Child
Somewhere within each of us lies the essence of our being. It may be within the inner child due to abuse, neglect and abandonment. Even death of a parent when we are too vulnerable and young to understand loss and grief, can leave a hole in our soul, too painful to grasp, so we create a false self, sometimes, bravado, sometimes indifference, and aggressive behaviors that were not there before the loss of a parent. Those unconscious decisions that were made during a trauma get integrated as part of who we become. It is an adaptation to survive. We can choose to get tough, or feel helpless, not unlike a victim. These choices are not in our conscious awareness until a therapist explores behaviors that interfere with the quality of our lives and we recognize that something is not working.
Relationships suffer if we are not authentic
Relationships suffer if we are not in our essence. Our work suffers, our families suffer and so does our mental and physical well-being. Relationships too often become “the killing fields” if our relational space becomes polluted which is the manifestations of our survival selves. Our relational space is where we live along with our children and pets. When the space remains polluted, the children suffer and learn to adapt in order to survive. We recreate what we learned from our dysfunctional families. It all becomes multi-generational unless we clean the space. Cleaning the space requires that we discard our survival suits. This requires therapy.
How Relationships Flourish When We are Our Authentic Self
When two people are in their true essence, time is eternal. When we don’t know what to do, what to say, how to be, we feel awkward, uneasy and uncomfortable in our own skin. One client told me that his “skin feels too tight.” We would rather be what others may want us to be then to reveal our true selves. This is our survival self; our adapted self. To really be free, to know our soulful content, to know our purpose in life, not to be defined by what we do, but rather, who we are—who we really are, is to be free. Once we are liberated from our survival suits, we can learn to love ourselves and have others love us as well. Our self- esteem rises along with our self-image and self-worth. This can only happen when we have recovered our authentic self.
I grew up in the last age of innocence, the fifties, in Miami Beach; a city that practiced apartheid, but we didn’t know it; let alone the word. We saw the colored and white fountains the colored and white bathrooms, the sign on the public buses that said, “Colored to the back.” We never even knew that was wrong as children and teenagers because that was the trance we grew up in. It was our culture, defiled as it was. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I developed a social conscience that was apart from the world I grew up in. We lived in a bubble. Miami Beach was a very special place; the 50’s, a special time, and we thought we were going to get married, have children and live happily ever after. When reality struck, we were in shock. I would say that it was the assassination of John Kennedy that was the beginning of the wake-up call that ended our last age of innocence.
Discovering Your Authentic Self
The art of being you and loving you, relies on you—not anyone else. If you can’t love yourself, no one else will either. To love yourself, is to be yourself. To be yourself, is to claim your essence. The child within is waiting for you to claim her/him. It is your responsibility to heal that part of yourself that was wounded a long time ago and learned to survive, but now needs to be free to be who they really are. To go to your grave never knowing who you really are is the greatest tragedy of all. You, as an adult, must go back and reclaim your child, re-parent her/him and become the champion that she/he never had and needed. This process takes a qualified therapist, time, commitment, and money. It’s the best investment you can make in yourself! The dividends are endless!
If you enjoyed this blog, please be kind enough to leave a review. I would appreciate your comments. Thank you!