Take a Risk and Claim Your Authenticity
Many years ago, I was a member of a group that promoted and encouraged creative writing in the community. We'd been working together for a couple of years when a new member joined us. She came in with a host of ideas, many of which we'd already tried, with no success. Even after we explained that, she insisted on our implementing them anyway.
No one challenged her and said, "No, that didn't work the first time and we're not going to do it again." I decided someone had to draw the line, and although I expected censure from the rest of the group, I stood up to her and said, "No." It got a little heated.
After the meeting, I was surprised and amazed when the other members thanked me for standing firm. "Someone had to do it," they said. This was the opposite reaction that I'd learned to expect, based on my childhood experiences. In my youth, if I set a boundary or challenged someone, I was ostracized. The members' appreciation rocked my worldview. It altered even more when the new member called me and kept trying to change my mind. And that, from then on, she respected me.
When you risk stepping out of your comfort zone, you find a deeper level of self-commitment and self-acceptance. By being true to yourself, you give yourself the message that your opinions and values are important. This buoys up your self-concept and increases your self-respect, which in turn gives you a greater feeling of confidence. It encourages you to open up and be more authentic.
I felt the new member had to be stopped from taking us down a fruitless path, so I acted on what I thought was right. By following my values, I fed my self-respect and felt like I'd accomplished something. When I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found approval when I expected displeasure.
The same thing can be said for trying new things. Making the choice to risk trying something you haven't done before, whether you're good at it or not, opens your mind to new experiences and possibilities. You don't have to be good at it, you just have to try. And if you don't explore new activities or pursuits, you won't find hidden treasures that make your heart sing.
This is the way children learn. They try, fail, and try again. When they're learning to walk, playing with building blocks, or making a sand castle, they don't get discouraged if it doesn't work out initially. Exploring and experimentation allows them to expand their awareness and discover what works and what doesn't. Children are persistent and keep trying, even it they don't succeed the first time. They're authentic and their confidence grows as they try again and achieve their goal.
As an art teacher and friend once said, "Give yourself permission to do it badly." That's one of the most freeing concepts for creativity. When you do this, you allow yourself to experiment and be spontaneous. And only with experimentation can you find new ways and techniques. Staying with the "same old, same old" will simply keep you in a rut.
Pick up a brush, lump of clay or camera and create something. Challenge some of the beliefs you have and say, "No" to something you don't want to do. The sky is unlikely to fall, and you'll feel stronger. Hold your ground when someone tries to bully you. Tell a friend how you feel when she's always an hour late for lunch.
You're more authentic when you risk. Stepping out of what's secure and safe breaks down your inner barriers. You unblock yourself and let your true self flow more fully through you. And even when things don't work out, as sometimes happens, you have more resources to handle it philosophically. You can assure yourself, "At least I tried." Giving yourself permission to try and fail can create a feeling of safety that allows you to try again.
I couldn't sit silent and let the group be bullied into a course of action that would be unproductive. That would have made me feel like a victim. Because I risked going out of my comfort zone and speaking up, my beliefs were altered in a positive way. It gave me the courage to explore other areas and confront my fears.
When you risk, even if it doesn't work out, it expands your horizons. You learn something valuable that you can use the next time. You've empowered yourself to stretch and be a victor. This establishes a pattern that can continue to reveal more of your authentic self.
Copyright © 2009-2017 Linda Ann Stewart
As a speaker, personal and professional development coach, and hypnotherapist, Linda-Ann Stewart helps business and professional women who feel stuck, immobilized and overwhelmed to focus, prioritize and break through so they build more business and create a consistent income. Sign up for her FREE guide, "Take Control of Your Day," at www.Linda-AnnStewart.com/guide-takecontrol.html.You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.
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