From Rachel Hollis in Girl, Wash Your Face: “When you boil it down, that’s the heart of the problem with my father. He couldn’t understand what to do with a small child, let alone a girl. Since he didn’t understand me, he often unintentionally muted the parts of me that made him uncomfortable.”
A million times I have revisited a moment from when I was 5 years old. I had been dancing all day, exploring my new found love for music and movement. I waited excitedly for my father to come home so I could show him how well I danced, because I knew without question that dancing was something I did really well! I LOVED the way I felt when I moved my body, and I loved the way the music made me feel, and I was one with the Universe and all things when I danced! I couldn’t wait to share that feeling with him.
My father’s reaction after my one-song recital was, “I guess that will be OK when you’re old enough.”
All I heard was, “You’re not enough.” I might be enough one day in an OK sort of way, but NOW, in this present moment, I am not enough.
After reading Rachel Hollis, I realize that my dancing made my father uncomfortable. At five years old, my radiant light shown brightly, and my father marginalized me and made me doubt, because he could – in NO way – relate to my exuberant joy.
This was a man who angered easily when I didn’t meet the conditions he thought appropriate for a child. But WHAT was “appropriate” wasn’t defined, and therefore I was always guessing how to behave, trying on new masks I hoped might please him enough to get him to love me, or show affection, or at least set down his beer. The one mask I dared not wear was Authentic Cindy (I didn’t spell it Cyndi back then) because he had already shown me how displeased he was with, and how unloveable and unworthy of love was Authentic Cindy.
I learned this because every time I was truly, authentically, exuberantly me, the message I received was vehemently “don’t be that.” (*Please see side note below.)
The problem with suppressing the authentic self is that once we realize we can only be truly happy living as our authentic self, it may be hard to recall our authentic self. It is hidden, buried deep beneath a pile of discarded masks that didn’t fit and didn’t attract the unconditional love we were hoping for.
Unconditional love is what we all seek. So we bend ourselves like pretzels to meet conditions that might make us lovable in the eyes of others.
The problem with suppressing the authentic self is that once we realize we can only be truly happy living as our authentic self, it may be fucking SCARY as hell to step back into the authentic self – the role we were born to play. Because so much energy has been spent trying NOT to be that. So many thoughts have accumulated telling us that ‘who we truly are’ is unacceptable, unloveable or unworthy.
Reframing these thoughts will take time, but there may not be anything more important we can do to reach our goals.
Without the element of self-love, goals for self-care are fruitless.
We give up making healthy improvements because we believe we’re unworthy or unimportant, or whatever other limiting belief we have learned and integrated.
Reframing these thoughts will take practice but it’s crucial. I schedule time each day to think my new improved thoughts. I spent YEARS practicing old thinking patterns, so changing those patterns now takes practice to form new neural pathways.
Reframing these thoughts may require therapy. I certainly needed one-on-one help to see that changing my thoughts about myself was essential to reclaiming the authentic me that I was born to be. A good therapist or counselor can be immensely helpful at restoring self-love and self-care to healthy levels.
I am wild and audacious and loud. My authentic self is fearless and fails forward without regret. She is filled with joy that spills out naturally and noisily.
I am done living small because it might make others uncomfortable. I am done wearing masks to get the approval of others. Because If I cannot live the full, expansive version of me that I came here to be, then that makes ME uncomfortable. I will pursue my passions and I will shine my light, and I will help others remember the light inside themselves.
If we want unconditional love (and we do!) then we must love ourselves unconditionally in all our flawsomeness. We must love the darkness and the light. We must love our flaws, missteps, and failures and feel entirely worthy despite those perceptions!
Unconditional love starts on the inside.
If we change to gain the approval of others, we will never love ourselves unconditionally. When we love ourselves every day in all conditions, we don’t need the fucking approval of others. And when we truly feel love for ourselves no matter what, that is what the world reflects back to us!
We can stick to our healthy intentions and reach our goals because we know our own value and deeply accept our self-worth. More people see our authentic, confident selves, and are drawn to our energy and inspired to love themselves unconditionally!
And isn’t THAT what we want from life? To live deeper self-love, greater confidence, and absolute worthiness while inspiring our fellows to deeper self-love, greater confidence, and absolute worthiness?
I believe it’s what we all want at our core.
What parts of yourself do you mute so that others are not uncomfortable?
What are you telling yourself about that muted part?
What will change for you when you live the life you were born to live?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much self love do you currently have?
(1 is low and 10 is LOTS)
What will it take to get that to a 10?
*side note – My father was not an bad person. He was just doing the best he could with what he had to work with. I hold no resentments for his behavior and understand that those experiences helped shaped me into the AWESOME human being I am today.