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Being Your Whole Self

Jun 28, 2019
Being Your Whole Self

One of the most unconsciously exhausting things we do as humans is to try to make our lives look seamless to the outside world – constantly showing up like we are problem free, pain free, emotionally free and always ‘good thanks’ – especially at work. We are all too familiar with this mask we wear and the mask we see in others.

We have been primed to look like we are in control like we are one dimension of ourselves in the public arena. We learn that our emotions and feelings should be left at the door and that we need to project near perfection across the full range of our life segments to be ‘successful’.

If we dare to take off the mask and show our whole-self we fear rejection, vulnerability or appearing weak or out of control (many of these feelings we felt as children and decided we never wanted to feel again).

We continue to show our strong suit, even if it means being only half of ourselves.

This was me for many years in the corporate world. Always showing up with my work persona. Driven, result oriented, in control, unemotional and serious. Funny, I thought that being serious was one of the criteria of being a dedicated hard-working employee. With this belief in tow I left a lot of my joy at the door too.

If only I had known that ‘the job wasn’t me’ because I wasn’t being me!

Research is demonstrating that leaders who are bringing their whole self to work and are considered truly authentic, are more trusted, more inspiring and form deeper connections with those who work with them.

A study from the University of Nebraska found that authentic leadership, those individuals who have the courage to bring their whole selves to what they do, serves as the single strongest predictor of an employee’s job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and workplace happiness.

Another advantage of bringing more of your whole self to what you do (in your personal or professional life) is that this authenticity fosters greater creativity and diversity, because people are sharing more of themselves, rather than agreeing and conforming with the majority. This is a big win for bringing more innovation to the workplace.

10 Ways to Express More of Your Whole Self

Bringing more of your whole self (your authentic self) to what you do is not something that happens overnight. It is a process that starts with understanding and accepting your whole self-first. Some helpful tools to support this journey might include a meditation practice, mindfulness and/or the support from a coach or therapist.

Here are some strategies you can start with:

  • Be curious about your emotions and your thoughts and accept and feel them without judgment (mindfulness).
  • Understand your core values and check you are living in alignment with these.
  • Create meaningful connections with those around you – ask them how they are feeling, show kindness, empathy and compassion (to them and to yourself).
  • Have the courage to share about personal challenges or feelings to trusted others. This will open the door to deeper more meaningful connections.
  • Look at your patterns of behaviour and notice the need to be in control, to please others, to be affirmed or accepted and notice if this relates to your childhood experiences.
  • Listen with your whole-self, meaning you a present and open and non-judgmental as you listen to someone share something with you.
  • Quieten the inner critic and courageously share your views, questions and ideas with others (this practice will help to build your inner confidence).
  • Allow yourself to laugh more and express joy more freely and publicly. Brene Brown says this is one of the most vulnerable practices we can do.
  • Keep a journal and write regularly to gain more self-awareness about your authentic self. It will also calm the mind and provide you with more clarity and direction.
  • Know your purpose and let this guide you in expressing your whole self.

Bringing your whole self to life takes courage, vulnerability and a commitment to accepting the many dimensions of yourself. The results will be greater freedom, more happiness, alignment with purpose and deeper more meaningful relationships in life.

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