You have to banish all of your inauthentic qualities if you want to become your authentic self. Some people won’t like it when you do.
Unfortunately, a lot of our adaptations to life and relationships involve compromising our authentic self. We do this to ‘make other people comfortable’ and we do it to avoid punishment or rejection. Most of us have been socialized in a way that we actually have a hard time even knowing what ‘authentic self ‘ means. The personal transformation that is a result of doing healing should be a priority. Nonetheless it’s important to realize that your transformation can spark a backlash from the people who are closest to you.
I’m not saying that we have some fully formed authentic self within us that we are maliciously hiding from the world. No. We are actually the first casualty of our self denial. We have the unenviable task of simultaneously finding ourselves and honestly interacting with others as this self. Our personal transformation is an ongoing process and you need to cherish it.
If your transformation is deep you are going to stir up some reactions. Surprisingly even when you become a demonstrably better person, a lot of people aren’t going to like it when you change. Some of them will feel grief from losing the ‘you’ that they thought they knew. They aren’t going to ‘buy it’ that this new you is the authentic you. They are going to attribute your change to the thing that sparked it, like beginning therapy or a meditation practice, and they won’t be a hundred percent wrong.
You are headed into messy territory when making this kind of shift in your life. There will be self doubt and varying levels of crisis of identity. There will be backlash from the people closest to you.
Here are some strategies for dealing with this.
1. Apologize for your prior in-authenticity.
Even though people will probably be pushing you to stay the same, apologize for lying about who you truly were. You don’t need to go on and on about how amazing your personal transformation feels. Apologize even though you may not have been doing anything on purpose, even though you were just playing out your conditioning, even though you were just trying to please.
By apologizing for your prior in-authenticity, you send a powerful message to your subconscious mind and all of its hidden belief systems and automatic responses that a new you is in place. You also disarm your critics this way and open a path to a new understanding. It’s harder to beat down a person who is in the act of apologizing. You also put the person who wants you to go back to being who you used to be in the position of saying, “Please go back to lying to me.” And that’s an obviously ridiculous position.
2. Get inspired by others.
My main inspiration for our claiming our authentic selves is the millions of LGBT people who have come out to family and friends. I always use this example when someone argues that they will destroy others with their truth. “If I tell my parents that I’m not a virgin, (vegetarian, non-smoker, Christian, Republican or whatever) they will die. They won’t be able to handle it.” Oh really? So, are you arguing that all of the gay people who have come out of the closet had an easier time than you?
I didn’t think so.
There are millions of people out there who have gone down this road. Let them be your inspiration.
3. Don’t jump into a new label too quickly.
There is a rush of energy when we liberate ourselves from old lies. Sometimes in this giddy phase we also rush to redefine ourselves. This sets us up for the moment where we need to backtrack in a way that can undermine the truth we are establishing. This backtracking can be humiliating and make your most profound transformation look like some kind of drunk talk.
Maybe you have an amazing spiritual breakthrough in a meditation or workshop and then go out telling everyone you are a Buddhist and will never eat meat, smoke or drink alcohol ever again, only to be seen doing some of those things within a week of your big pronouncement. This happens a lot! Keep the labels to yourself now and just stay in the moment.
4. Stay Grounded and Focus on Self Love
All of the previous three points will help with staying grounded but here is one other thing: You don’t know, and can never fully know while in a human body, the full truth of who you are. You are a mystery, even to yourself. Love that mystery and enjoy exploring it. You just may spend the rest of your eternity doing that. You don’t need a final definition of yourself because you are a creative being and you never know what you will create next. Definitions lead to limitation and do not apply to an eternal spiritual being. That’s what you are. Learn to adore yourself and your authentic uniqueness and you will find that adoration spilling out into the rest of creation. There is no competition in a reality where uniqueness is loved.