Feb. 15, 2022

Enlarging Our Capacity for Authenticity

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Many of us long to be more authentic than we are able to be. We feel that our ability to be authentic is constrained by a lack of acceptance from other people. But what if we can increase our internal capacity to be authentic regardless of extrinsic circumstances?

In this episode I talk about how the journey into wholeness enlarges our capacity to be our true selves even when we experience rejection from others.

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(00:00:20) - Introduction
(00:01:24) - A New Theme
(00:03:18) - Speaking My Truths Vulnerably
(00:10:09) - Capacity To Hold Ourselves
(00:14:21) - Accepting Our True Self
(00:20:58) - Hitting (False) Limits
(00:25:23) - The Healing Journey
(00:29:14) - PRAXIS: Listen. Ponder. Act
(00:32:47) - Conclusion
Available here.

Available here.

- As you listened to my sharing in this episode, what hit you? You know, what was one thing that maybe resonated the most with you? 

- When was the last time or is there an incident that you can recall where you showed up as yourself and then felt that you were rejected?
- How did you feel?

- Revisit that memory that you called up for Ponder– that that incident where you experienced showing up as yourself and felt rejected. 
- Exercise: 
• Spend some time with yourself back in that moment when you were rejected.
• Write a note or write a letter to yourself.
• Stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself there's nothing wrong with you. 

 For full details of this reflection prompt, please see transcript.

- Ep 19 True vs False Limits

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In unguarded moments, we are vulnerable, but we're also real. And the way people react to us in our unguarded moments, and our reaction to that subsequently, can give us an indication of how secure we are in our identity.

Welcome to Becoming Me, your podcast companion and coach in your journey to a more integrated and authentic self. I am your host, Ann Yeong, and I'm here to help you grow in self-discovery and wholeness. If you long to live a more authentic and integrated life and would like to hear honest insights about the rewards and challenges of this journey, then take a deep breath, relax, and listen on to Becoming Me.

Hello again, dear listeners! And welcome to the first official episode for 2022. I've had a good break over the last few weeks – couple of months. And it was a much needed time to step back and look over, you know, the last year that I had, but also what I've done on the Becoming Me Podcast up to this point.

[00:01:24] A NEW THEME
And so, I thought it may be good – as a way of introducing the new theme for this new season – to talk a little bit about increasing our capacity for authenticity. So, what do I mean by that? Those of you who have been following this podcast, listening to, you know, the different episodes.

I think it's safe to say that you resonate with the experience that I talk about in all these episodes – which is that longing to be able to be who we really are; to be seen, accepted and loved for who we really are. And at the same time, you know, we long for that courage to be able to be ourselves.

And a lot of us will find ourselves in that bind between really, really wanting to be able to just say what we mean and, you know, do what we believe in; stand up for what we believe in and be our real self, as much as we are aware of what that real self is like. 

But so often we find that we don't do that. We can't do that. We are not able to be that authentic person that we wish we could be. Why is that? I think that it's quite a universal experience as well, that we are very afraid that when we show up as our real selves, we will not be accepted, right. There's always that risk.

There is indeed, always that risk. If we were unabashedly who we are, if we said what we thought, if let's say, our real self – like for me, I, you know, my real self; I'm a very forthright person. I say things sometimes, in very unvarnished ways. And I may not be aware when I offend someone or I may not be aware when, you know, I say something to, let's say a friend, that I thought – I mean, to me, it's just, it's true.

I can say it compassionately and it's true, but it may not hit me that maybe what I just said is something that my friend hadn't really thought about or isn't really ready to acknowledge. And so, it makes her upset or uncomfortable. And when that happens, you know, my first reaction, for the longest time in my life, is to shrink back and feel really bad about myself.

Feel that, oh, I did something wrong again. You know, why am I always saying things that upset people or upset the people that I love? Now, sometimes, it may be a situation where I could learn to be a little bit more diplomatic or maybe a little bit more mindful about how I say what I say. But a lot of the times, I've come to realize now, it has nothing to do with being diplomatic or being sensitive.

You know, it's just a matter of, you know, that was a moment when I am comfortable to be my real self. I was uncensored. And in that particular moment, maybe because of the other person's own internal reality and capacity, he or she was not able to receive me as I really am because you know, it made him or her feel threatened, surprised, and they may need some time to regain equilibrium.

Right, now, the same kind of thing that – let's say, I said to a friend who got upset with me – the very same kind of thing I said to another person, they would be completely comfortable with. In fact, they value the kind of conversation that we have because it can be, you know, deep and real and kind of like no holds barred, and we enjoy that, right?

So, there are people that I can enjoy that depth of conversation with; I feel like it can be safe to just be myself. But for a lot of other people – not through any fault of mine or theirs – me being fully myself is not going to make me feel welcome. Now, so, what do I do in those moments? Do I be less myself?

Do I be – do I try to play a different role? Now, I don't think there's any right or wrong answer to this. Sometimes, the occasion does call for me to play a particular role. There's nothing wrong or inauthentic about that. As long as I'm very clear, it's very contextual in this moment; I need to speak a certain way, right – in order to do the work of love of the moment, right. 

So, for example, if I'm coaching a client, that may not be the best time for me to play a fool or be goofy. When I'm with a client, what they need from me is my insight, my clarity – and I speak in a certain way when I'm in that mode, right? In fact, when I am recording a podcast or a video, that's kind of like quite a different dimension that I reveal about myself as compared to when I'm speaking directly with someone, right – face to face or over Zoom as well.

So, when I'm speaking directly, I'm teaching or I'm coaching, I am a lot more intense than I come across, apparently. In my podcast, as one of my clients found out – whom I never met before – he listened to my podcast and then he arranged an appointment with me.

And after our first session, there was this long silence and he said, "I'm not silent because I'm disagreeing with anything you said. Ann, I'm just a little taken aback because you're very different in person than you sound on the podcast". Right. Because when I'm speaking on the podcast, or I'm doing recording, I am conveying a message. 

You know, I think I slow my thought down intentionally, so I don't speak too fast. But when I am talking directly to someone and I'm responding to the insights of that particular moment, right – and I'm asking maybe deep questions, and I am challenging, as well as consoling and all that.

You know, it's a very different vibe that I'll give out. So, why am I talking about this? It's not like I really want to just talk about what I'm like, you know, on a podcast versus when I'm in person. It's just, I'm trying to say this; that I think we all have different sides to ourselves and all that could be part of our real self, right.

We don't necessarily put on a specific way of being to be artificial. We just automatically, you know, we kind of code-switch – there's that term. Even when we are talking to people, in order to be understood by the person that we are communicating with, we sometimes instinctively – we often instinctively know what is needed from us.

Now, when we live in the world, when we interact with other people, when we lead – whether it's at work, in our communities, or even in our families – we will always have unguarded moments.

And in unguarded moments, we are vulnerable, but we're also real. And the way people react to us in our unguarded moments, and our reaction to that subsequently, can give us an indication of how ready we are, or secure we are in our identity. So, for example – I've had this experience more than once.

And it's kind of like, you know, I show up and I teach a session and when it's done and I ask are any questions, and there is this like silence – and that happens to me quite a lot, actually. Like nobody has any questions, right. And at the start, when I was starting to do this, I would always have this moment of alarm, you know – like, oh no, they didn't like what I said, or I wasn't clear.

And they have no idea what I just talked about. Right, and there were times earlier, in my work when I would think, "should I try and be less intense in the way that I speak?" "Should I try and slow down?" "What is it – how can I change so that people won't give me that stunned silence as a reaction to the end of a session?"

But then I grew to realize, I actually know that that's the only way I can teach. That's the only way that I can speak. And as I found out later, a lot of times that silence is really just people need time to digest what I'd just delivered. Because it tends to be quite dense, or maybe it can hit quite deep, and they just need some time to digest before they can even register if they have any questions.

And when I give them that time to digest, they can ask really great questions, really deep questions. And then I'm delighted. I'm delighted to then respond to those questions. I think you wouldn't be surprised by now if I told you, you know, I like to go deep. I like to talk about things that really matter.

I tend to happily wade into topics that, you know – it's not general conversation. So, that comes across – whether it's a podcast or when I'm giving a session, even when I'm coaching – or maybe I should say, especially when I'm coaching.

As I grew in my capacity to hold myself, I became more able to be real in whatever situation I am in. And that meant that even when people reacted poorly – or at least what I view as reacted poorly. Or if let's say, you know, someone comes to speak to me once, and then I never hear from them again. Oh, that's another huge trigger for my insecurities.

You know, like again, I'll be thinking, "oh no, I said something wrong", "I scared them away". But more and more, I'm becoming okay. Right, I realize that it's not that I did something wrong, but that maybe they got what they need at this time. Or maybe they need time to work out what, you know – what it was that had happened between us.

And if it's not for them, and if they decide that they don't want to come back to speak to me, that's perfectly fine. That doesn't mean that there's something wrong with me. In fact, it could be a great indication that I am doing my job, right. Maybe I said what needed to be said. And maybe what needed to be said makes them uncomfortable or makes them need to go away for time to process.

And as you remember, near the end of last season, I did a series of episodes on motivation code with Dr. Joshua Miller. And that's one dimension, right, of this journey into authenticity and wholeness.

It's knowing what makes us unique and understanding that we have different ways of making that same journey into authenticity and wholeness. And there's no one size fits all. And that as we come into an understanding of what makes us different from others, and be able to accept and even embrace that, that empowers us to be our true self.

Okay, that's part of the journey to becoming our true self. But there is something that I've also been noticing more because I've done more coaching last year. And in particular, I've done several MCode coaching sessions as well as MBTI coaching sessions. And I realized a very interesting – I noticed a very interesting phenomenon.

There are times when what is clearly coming up from the data, right – from the assessment and from the stories of my clients. There's something that's very clear. There's a picture that's emerging that's very clear. And actually, for me, as a third-party looking at it, I think it's a beautiful thing.

I mean, it's an incredible portrait that's coming up. But the person whose life is emerging, right – they may actually be uncomfortable about what they're starting to see about themselves. And sometimes, they need time to get around to even really acknowledging that this is true of them, right.

So, I have so many of these conversations with people, you know? When I asked them, "so, is it true or is it because it's not accurate" – right? Is it accurate? Is what is emerging accurate about you? And they would say, "yes, it is accurate", "it is true". But – you know, there's always this "But", you know? And they want to try and rationalize it away.

They want to be able to somehow rationalize why this picture that's coming up is that way. There's something about the picture that's emerging – that's rubbing them the wrong way. And usually when we reach that point, I would change track and ask them; let's, you know, let's hold on a minute, let's go back a bit.

What is it about this picture of you that's emerging that's making you feel like you don't want that to be true? Right, so, you're saying that it's accurate, but it's making you uncomfortable. And why is that? And when we talk about that, what often emerges then would be the life scripts that they have, right?

Something about the way they were brought up, you know, the environments that they've been in – whatever. Or some, you know, past experiences that had a very powerful impact on them have shaped the way that they believe they should become, right. It's given them an idea of what's that ideal version of themselves – what it should look like, what they should be like. And when they are striving, in that sense, to "be the best version of themselves" – we often hear that term, right?

We want to be the best version of ourselves. They're unconsciously or subconsciously comparing themselves to that ideal in their head. That ideal that has been given to them through their life experience, right? Some kind of narratives, a story that they've been told that they've become a part of. And sometimes that narrative, that script, really does not match who they are.

So, can you imagine, or can you understand when I describe it like that? – how uncomfortable it can be to live a life that is so un-aligned or misaligned with who you really are. Right, because there's this script that you've inherited. And all these things that has maybe happened in your life that has given you a particular kind of container that you are really trying hard to fit into because you think, or you believe that if I can fit into that container and be this person, I will be loved. I will be respected. I'll be accepted. You know, that's who people need me to be, want me to be.

And when what we are given in our nature and in our temperament, and in our gifts paint a very different picture that actually is giving us an entirely different shape than the shape of the container. How can we feel comfortable if we try to force ourselves to fit into that box? Now, the interesting thing – is even those of us who say I want to be myself, right –

– who say, I really am not comfortable having to be someone that I'm not. We say that. And we mean it, right? Because we actually feel that discomfort of not being able to be our true self. But even those of us who say it and mean this – a lot of us, when we actually see what we really are – and I'm not even talking about, you know, this is nothing, you know, of no moral value or anything.

It's just for example, as something as innocuous as, "I'm actually an extrovert, I'm not an introvert". "Oh, you know, that makes me uncomfortable". Why? Or for example, recognizing that my real self likes to explore new things all the time. I want to find different ways of doing things. I don't like to do the same thing in the same way over and over again.

I don't take well to schedules and plans – something like that is actually innocuous, right? It's morally neutral. But why is it that something like that can make us freak out? Okay, so that particular example is my own example as well, right. I always thought I was very organized and very planful.

And I think I came across as that for a very large part of my life. But I wasn't happy because it took a lot – it always takes a lot out of me to be that organized. Right, so, when I first began to realize that actually my natural self is quite different and is – my natural self is actually someone how likes to more go with the flow. 

Right, and do things a little last minute. I had a hard time accepting that. Why is that? Right? So, when I noticed that discomfort, I had to go back and wonder what gave me the impression that this is not good. 

If we cannot go beyond, "I can’t accept this about myself", right? Then we're not going to continue this journey to authenticity and wholeness. We're going to keep bumping up against this "I don't want to be like this". 

Right, so, even though I thought I wanted to grow in authenticity and to know my true self, but when I see something about what I'm like, and I can't get my heart around it, I wouldn't be able to keep going. Now, this limit is often there because of everything that's happened in our life up to this point. And a lot of this is invisible to us. A lot of this is not something that we notice.

And sometimes, we may feel like I don't want to have to dig deep to find out why my capacity for authenticity – to continue to be my true self – has hit this limit. Because it's uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable to have to kind of like peer beneath the lid. And for a lot of people, this is where they stop. 

Right. What I mean is, they continue to long to be real – they continue to long for authenticity. But when it becomes uncomfortable, they just keep looping around this capacity limit that they have hit. 

Is this resonating? Maybe for some of you, this is resonating, right? So, what is it that we need to do when we've hit our capacity limit? You remember one of my, or two of my earlier episodes on the podcast was talking about limits, right? That we have limits, and they are real limits. They are true limits where it is good to honour that we should not go any further than this point. But there are also false limits. 

False limits in the sense that, this limit is there because of maybe something that had gone awry in the past. So, for example, if I've injured – if I sprained my leg, I wouldn't be able to walk properly. I would have a severe limit, right – during the time when I'm injured – for me to walk normally, to walk briskly. 

But that limit is not a true – I mean in that moment it's a true limit. In that particular time, I shouldn't push myself beyond what I'm able to. But I shouldn't just accept this limit is forever because I know that when healing happens for my sprained ankle; if things go normally, I will be able to walk normally again. 

Now, what's true for a sprained ankle is true for our, I think, the capacity of our soul, okay – for us to be real and authentic. 

All of us – the limit that we experience when we hit up against being able to be authentic is there because of some wounds in the past – because we have been hurt in the past. And a lot of these hurts, a lot of these wounds happened way before we can recall, okay. What we may not even remember exactly what happened. 

Our minds may not be able to remember. But a lot of times our subconscious mind, our hearts, our bodies – they remember that. So, whenever we come up to a point where maybe we've experienced rejection before, we will shrink back. Even if we were actually being really who we are, you know – we want to be authentic, but there's another part of us to protect ourselves.

Kind of like to hold us back and say, no, no, you can't be real here. You can't be who you really are here because you're going to experience rejection if you do that. Now, when we live in perpetual insecurity of being rejected, then what we'll find is that well, we will keep policing ourselves, or we will always defer to what we think other people need of us. And we're not going to be able to live our truth, right? 

If I put it that way – we're not going to really be real. So, one big dimension of this interior journey into authenticity is that that dimension of the journey into wholeness, right? Which is why I'm always putting these two together; the journey into authenticity and wholeness – journey into authenticity and integration, right. 

Integration is becoming whole. And what is becoming whole; what does it consists of? It actually consists of healing of what has been fragmented, to be put back together. Of what has been broken to be made whole again. Right, and that's why at this point of the arc in the podcast, I think it's a good time to turn more explicitly to the theme of healing. In many of the episodes prior, I infer and refer, you know, mentioned parts of my stories.

A lot of it is about my healing journey, right. But it's because it's integrated – it's part of the whole journey into authenticity. But I haven't really spoken specifically about healing. And a big part, a big reason for that is I'd been waiting, that when the time is right, I want to be able to bring on people for whom this is their particular gift, their particular expertise.

Right, because in my own journey, I have been blessed to meet people like that – whether there were spiritual directors or, you know, therapists, mentors. But there are people who can be a lot more articulate than I can be when they actually explain some of the terms that you have heard me use in previous episodes, such as inner child, right. Or attachment, or even trauma. So, I hope that you're looking forward to this theme.

Okay, so this arc on healing. And I haven't planned too far into the season yet, because part of it also depends on the availability of the guests that I hope to get ahold of. But I hope that this whets your appetite and that you are looking forward, as I am, to discover more about, you know, what we can do to increase our capacity to be real, to be authentic, right. 

Because authenticity takes great courage. It takes courage – a lot of times courage that we feel we don't have. So, how do we enlarge this capacity to be brave? How can we become more brave? You know, it's an ongoing process and a big part of it is becoming more whole. As we get more whole, we become a lot more brave. You know, as we get more whole, we find that we can become a lot more unapologetic about being who we are. 

Right, and we can learn slowly what is the particular way that we are meant to love and to serve. And we won't feel as apologetic when the way we were created to love and serve, rubs people the wrong way, okay. Because sometimes that's just the way it is. And we can have enough room in the world offer one another the grace to be themselves and to move in and out of each other's fears; to avail ourselves to the gifts of the people that we need in this season of our journey to become more whole and authentic, and to have the freedom to step away from those that do not help us, right. 

Even if they're good – even if, you know, really the gifts are amazing. But if it's not the right fit for us right now, we can be free to move away. And it goes both ways, right? When we are more secure and more brave, we can be ourselves and we won't take it so personally when someone else moves away from us, when someone else kind of like rejects what we have to offer. It doesn't say something about us, about our worth or our value. It may just say something about the fit; that in this season, we're not meant to be as close together or to journey together.

Okay, so, here are the praxis prompts for today. One: Listen– as you listened to my sharing in this episode, what hit you? You know, what was one thing that maybe resonated the most with you? 

Two: Ponder– when was the last time or is there an incident that you can recall where you showed up as yourself and then felt that you were not accepted, that you were rejected. How did you feel?

Three: Act– I invite you to revisit that memory that you called up for Ponder, right – that time, that incident where you experienced showing up as yourself and being rejected. And I invite you to do this little exercise; when you can be quiet when can have a little time on your own. I'd like you to spend some time with yourself back in that moment, when you were rejected. 

And I invite you to, maybe in your journal or somewhere – maybe, you know, write; write a note or write a letter to yourself. Or if you prefer not to write, this is going to be a very powerful experience; if you can stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and in your own words, I want you to tell yourself there's nothing wrong with you. 

There's nothing wrong with you. You were just being you. And just because you were not received, doesn't mean that you're worthless and that you have no value. You are beautiful and good. Even while you're on the journey and imperfect. And you know, the truth is just; you're not for everyone. You are not for everyone. 

So, in your own words, say something along that trajectory. I really invite you to take this moment to console yourself, to go back to a moment where you had felt rejected and maybe you might have, at that time, abandoned yourself. Right, because when we experienced rejection from others, for a lot of us, what we do is then we compound it by also rejecting ourselves, right – by criticizing ourselves and saying, you know, see, there's something wrong with you.

I'm inviting you to repair that damage between you and your inner soul, okay. Because that's not true. Others may walk away, but you need walk away from yourself. And the acceptance that you need most, actually is not from another person – is actually from yourself. 

So, that's it for today's episode. I look forward to sharing the next one with you soon

[00:32:47] CONCLUSION
Thank you for listening to Becoming Me, where new episodes drop every first and third Wednesdays of the month. Remember, the most important thing about making this journey is to keep taking steps in the right direction. No matter how small those steps might be, and no matter where you might be in your life right now, it is always possible to begin. 

The world would be a poorer place without you becoming more fully alive. Don't forget to visit my website at becomingmepodcast.com and to subscribe to my newsletter as well as to this podcast. Until the next episode, Happy becoming!