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Reclaim Your Authenticity

Linda-Ann Stewart

When I began 2nd grade, I'd read all the Easy Reader books that interested me in the school library. Shortly after school began, my teacher told the class we'd be allowed to start reading in the Juvenile section once we asked her permission. As soon as that class ended, I went up and asked her, and she said, "No."

She didn't explain that she needed to assess my level of reading ability, which I'm guessing was her reasoning. My request was simply rejected and I didn't know why. Fearing being turned down again, I waited until I was one of the last kids in the class to ask a second time. Because of this experience, I stopped asking for what I wanted or knew I was capable of handling. I hid away a piece of my authenticity for safety.
  • When you were a kid, did you have your natural rambunctiousness shut down?
  • Did your schoolmates tease you for knowing the answers, being overweight or different?
  • Were you told by grownups to be seen and not heard?
  • Were your parents amused when you splashed water on them one day, then punished you the next for doing the same thing?
  • Did your folks change the rules from day to day?
  • Did you become an over-achiever to get their approval that never came?
Any of these things could have shut down your natural self-expression. You learned it was dangerous to express your authentic self.

The problem wasn't with you. You were simply being who you were. The issue was with the adults who wanted you to conform to their standards and convenience. This wasn't part of raising you to be a courteous, compassionate, responsible adult. It was you trying to learn what the grown-ups wanted, even when their expectations changed daily.

In general, people shut you down and tried to confine you for their benefit, not yours. Your natural expression made them uncomfortable, took attention from them, came at a bad time or when they were in a bad mood. They weren't concerned so much about your well-being as they were interested in their own welfare.

Because of this, you might have grown up feeling like your beingness was "wrong" somehow. That nothing you could do was right. And the more you tried to be perfect, the further you moved away from your true self and the worse you felt.

Because others rejected you, you rejected yourself in the same way. Now, when you make decisions, do you make them for your well-being or to try to make other people happy? If you try to make everyone happy, you're doomed to failure and disappointment. It's time for you to start accepting yourself and realizing that you are fine the way you are.

Here are some things you can do to begin to reclaim your authenticity.

1. Stop rejecting yourself.

If someone misinterprets what they see in you, or something you do, there's generally nothing you can do to erase that misconception. It comes from their filter, the way they perceive the world around them. Even if you make a mistake, accept yourself and realize it's part of your exploring the possibilities. If necessary, you can make amends.

2. Ask yourself some questions in a new way.
  • "What's so bad about me?" This isn't about what people in your childhood thought about you, but as if you were assessing a good friend. Would your characteristics be acceptable in a friend?
  • "What's so unacceptable about me that I have to keep my inner self hidden away?" What do your supportive, encouraging, positive friends and loved ones say about this?
  • "What's the worst that could happen?" You could lose a friend who's not good for you. Or you could get rejected, which you can now handle as an adult. It won't destroy you as it would have when you were a child.
3. Reconnect with who you really are.

This doesn't mean that you attack, explode or demean others. Those reactions are parts of your mask. They're what you used to protect yourself when you felt inadequate, insecure, anxious or defensive. Allow yourself to be visible and exhibit your talents, abilities, feistiness, insights, silliness, problem solving skills, and opinions.

4. Learn to trust yourself.

With all your experience, wisdom, and knowledge, it's unlikely you're going to overstep your bounds. Are you editing yourself too much? Trust your subconscious to lead you to the right things to say and do. Practice being more spontaneous in your life.

When you start living authentically, your self-respect increases. As a result, your self-esteem and self-worth rises. Tension and anxiety decrease, because you don't have to edit every word and judge every action. If there's any adverse reaction, you have confidence that you can deal with it. When you live from your true self, you have the power and insight to handle anything that comes your way.

Asking for what I want doesn't create overwhelming anxiety in me anymore. My teacher handled the situation like the autocrat she was. I now know that what I asked for was reasonable. Now I'm able to be more assertive and visible. I reclaimed a piece of my authentic self, and you can, too.

Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.


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