Dare to be You
Dare to be You.
by Delyse Ledgard, RCC
We live in a world of self-improvement. A myriad of ways can show you how to live a better life and overcome the things that get in your way to success. However, this often leaves us feeling disconnected and inadequate.
How do we change if we don’t strive to be better?
Good question; and The Paradoxical Theory of Change has some answers. Goes something like this. So often when we don’t feel good about ourselves we look to how we can be different. If I didn’t feel anxious then I would feel better about myself, or if I was less sensitive other people wouldn’t get upset with me.
However, by saying that we should be better and change [____], we are actually giving ourselves a message that we are not okay as we are. We want to be someone else; someone who we think others will like better or be more successful.
Emotions can represent our sense of ourselves as broken or weak. We might feel a need to hide and diminish these expressions in a misguided attempt to become ‘better’. We develop what might look like an internal cheerleader but what is really a critical voice!
This voice has incorporated all the critical and judgmental messages in our life as well as some of the ‘be positive’ cultural platitudes of our time. However, no matter how you might spin it the message is still the same. Be different to who you are.
Ironically, is this not the fundamental change we are looking for to accept ourselves?
The paradoxical theory of change sees change as a process of allowing and embracing our experience. When we do this we are fundamentally changing this sense of our self as not good enough. When we are connected to our experience we no longer criticize who we are and compassion for ourselves begins to grow. Even the acidic pain of shame can dissolve and be released when we notice the experience.
When we fully stand in ourselves then we can move forwards with clarity and desire. To accept our self is the heart of change. I am reminded of my three year old niece who responded to my father when he expressed that they had lost their way in the woods, with, ‘no granddad we are right here’. Perhaps this three year old wisdom was not far off the mark.
To fully be with oneself is to find oneself. The richness to our experience informs us about who we want to be. It comes from within not from without.
What if being myself causes problems for others?
These fears are rooted in feelings of being rejected, judged and not belonging. We are social beings and want to be connected to others. We fear that others will not connect to us if we don’t please them. So it makes sense that we might fear what would happen if we abandon our vigilance of trying to please others.
There is always a risk when we put ourselves forward. There will be times that others will not like aspects of who we are. We can be happy or sad and either one can bring up reactions in others that cause them to pull away.
Shame is an interpersonal process that is used to mitigate conflict and diminish our presence.
So when we take courage and begin to express parts of our self that we have held back or tried to suppress then feelings of shame and fear will rear their ugly heads. Believe me I know how utterly painful and terrifying it can be to express oneself uncensored to others. The good news is that it gives the shame the opportunity to dissolve and create more freedom to be who you are.
Alternatively, the critical cheerleader approach that encourages us to ‘be better’ can re-enforce this shame and fear and maintain a constricted way of life.
No matter who we are and how we express ourselves other people will have their reactions to us. We have no control over that. So we may as well develop a relationship to ourselves that is curious about what we are experiencing and desiring rather than forcing an ideal self that ends up feeling false and self-conscious.
All of our emotions, desires, actions, reactions, protections and opinions are what make us human. Through wholeness we can learn everything is possible and fruitful. We can come to forgive ourselves for our mistakes.
We learn that being vulnerable can open the hearts of others. That our energy of resentment or harshness carry our self-respect and justice. That life requires every aspect of you.
Delyse Ledgard operates Turning Point Therapy located in downtown Vancouver. She has over 30 years experience in the counselling field. She specializes in Trauma Psychotherapy from a relational, somatic approach that is informed by neuroscience, attachment research, affect regulation theory, gestalt and psychodynamic theories. She is a Certified Somatic Transformation practitioner and provides clinical consultation for therapists.
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