By Seth Lusk
In today’s fast-paced and digital world, the importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. People are seeking genuine connections and meaningful experiences, whether in their personal relationships or professional endeavors. As an authenticity coach, your role is to guide individuals towards embracing their true selves and living authentically. In this blog post, we will explore the power of vulnerability and its role in building deep and lasting connections, both personally and professionally.
Living an authentic life is about more than just acting on what feels good or right in a moment. It is more than just about behavior. Authenticity is about alignment with our belief systems to our TRUE, authentic core values.
So often in the modern world, we become so hyper focused on results that are external, that we forget that we produce external results from the internal truth. And while some people can push hard enough to produce some impressive external results in resistance to their internal truth, the truth is that people who do this do not feel fulfilled by their life, or results. In fact, they mostly feel fear, shame, guilt, worry, regret, doubt, anxiety, etc…
The truth is that in order to produce external results that feel fulfilling, we need to be internally aligned with what fulfills us at the deepest and truest level. Authenticity is about being able to see that, connect with it, and being able to then put that into practice in life, in how we show up and take action to produce results in life.
Authenticity is also a journey, not a destination. And this is also one of the big struggles I see people facing who claim to want to live more authentically. They have this common approach of authenticity being a goal to reach. Authenticity is not a goal to reach. It is a lifestyle. You can have the goal of living authentically for sure, but realize that this is a life long goal and journey. There is never a point where you “arrive at being authentic”, and now you never have to grow in your authenticity anymore. You are “already there”. That does not happen.
We ALWAYS have more ways in which we can show up more authentically in our life. And the journey of authenticity is the commitment to seeing that, and to intentionally looking for the inauthentic in our life, so that we can learn and show up more and more authentically as we grow in our understanding of ourselves. You are a being having a human experience. But the being that you are is soooo deep, vast, and infinite, that you will spend your entire life trying to understand them through this human body, but you will always have more to know. That is a WONDERFUL thing though! There is ALWAYS something exciting to learn in this life! (YOU!)
Who you are cannot be fully understood in human concepts. It can be felt very deeply in times of presence. But our task in this life is to take that felt understanding, and put it into human concept, and communicate it to the world around us in a responsible, clear, and ever growing way. And THIS is the journey of authenticity.
Vulnerability is an essential component of authenticity. It requires courage and a willingness to let go of masks, facades, and projections of what we think others WANT to see from us. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection or judgment, but we also create space for true connection and intimacy.
Sharing our true selves, our true emotions, doubts, and struggles with others, we can foster empathy and understanding in our relationship. This ends up allowing us to form deeper and more meaningful relationships.
But vulnerability brings something else so important to all of us. It brings acceptance. I know, I know, it sounds like I am contradicting myself here, because I just said how vulnerability can bring rejection. And this is true. But here is the thing about rejection. When a person rejects another person, what they are rejecting is their idea of that person. Same comes with acceptance.
So how does vulnerability help here?
You see, when another person accepts us, what they are accepting is their idea of us. When we feel accepted, we do not feel the other person’s acceptance, we feel that our concept of ourself is acceptable, and therefore accepted by others. The truth is that we never can TRULY know how accepted we are or are not by another person. We can only try to get close at understanding. But we experience acceptance when we believe we are accepted.
With vulnerability, since acceptance is so subjective, we create opportunity. You see, everyone around us is either choosing to accept or reject us based on their understanding of who they think we are. And, when we are playing roles, and putting on facades for people, they have ZERO chance at understanding the real us. So, they definitely cannot come close to accepting us. They could come close to accepting the role we might be playing. We will never know that for sure. But with vulnerability, here is what we CAN know for sure. With vulnerability we create the opportunity for true acceptance to occur. Without it, it can never truly occur. Think about that the next time you think about turning down an opportunity to be vulnerable, and the real you.
We all say that we want to be accepted. The truth is that we want to feel accepted. But what if we could both feel accepted, and also give ourselves the biggest chance of experiencing real, true acceptance from others?
We can with vulnerability. And since authenticity is all about showing up as our truest selves in this life, vulnerability is a crucial component of an authentic lifestyle.
I get it. Fear comes up when we have the opportunity to show up vulnerably. We have a lot of pre-programmed ideas about acceptant and vulnerability that do not serve us. This is why vulnerability is a courageous act. Courage is stepping forward when fear is present, not acting because you are fearless. Vulnerability shows strength, not weakness. It shows that you know who you are and that you know that you are acceptable. Even if the other person does not accept you, you know that this is about their ability to accept, not about your ability to be accepted.
Courageous vulnerability creates so much trust in your relationships with others, and yourself. It fosters opportunity in life that you would not otherwise see. It creates meaningful and deep connection in how we relate to others, the world around us, and ourselves. It is not something you want to shove away so quickly.
Fear often holds us back from living authentically. The fear of rejection, judgment, or failure can prevent us from fully expressing ourselves and showing up as our true selves. Overcoming these fears requires the self-acceptance we just talked about, and self-compassion.
By cultivating a sense of worthiness and embracing our truest and fullest selves, we can free ourselves from the constraints of fear and step into our authentic selves.
This does not mean that we do not face fear. It means that we are not restricted by its urgent message to turn around and go back to where we came from, back to what was familiar for us. Meaning that fear keeps us trapped in a version of life that we “have to just survive and get through”. Breaking free of the constraints of fear, means that when we face fear, we listen to it, find the opportunity within it to grow and expand, and we step forward into it. In doing this, we break down the barriers that fear puts up around our life.
In stepping forward in fear we teach ourselves that these walls around our life are merely an illusion of fear. When we see a wall, we know that if we lean into it, instead of turning around, we will find the place in which we can go through the wall. And, on the other side of that wall is a new way of seeing life. In that new way of seeing life, we also are able to see opportunities all around us that the old wall was blocking us from seeing.
One of the biggest fears people face that blocks them from seeing opportunity is the fear of judgement. It is the fear that I see the most as a life coach, holding people back from seeing their true potential in life.
I get it. It goes back to the idea of acceptance. We want to feel accepted. But remember what we talked about with acceptance. That true acceptance can only happen when we are vulnerable. One of the ways we can be vulnerable is speaking about our true desires in life.
I am not talking about urges to do what feels good in the moment. I am talking about our truest desires for life. The things we want to truly express, and create in this life. The gifts we have that we want to share are a part of this. And when we fear judgement for expressing those desires and gifts as we feel truly led to, we shut down vulnerability.
When we shut down vulnerability, we shut down the ability to be truly seen and understood. And this means we cannot be fully accepted. We feel that. And then the fear of rejection intensifies. So we start to play it safe with the actions we take in life. We play it small, safe, and conforming with what we choose to do with our lives.
We end up letting the fear create those walls, and we stay away from them. And, the longer we do this, the more we believe that those walls are real hard facts about life. Those walls begin to feel like real solid facts about life that limit what we are able to do in this life. We forget about the false nature of these walls, and we stop leaning in and questioning them. We begin to build prison-like lives of inauthenticity that we merely have to survive and get through. We start to seek out behaviors of comfort to deal with the pain that we are suppressing that is festering inside. That pain stems from the part of us that we are burying that knows we are lying to ourselves. That part of us never goes away. So we end up needing more and more inauthenticity, and more and more immediate pleasure and gratification to keep the pain of it buried and what we hope will soon be forgotten. But, it does not ever become forgotten.
My friends, I see this play out in the lives of people every day. I see it on the faces of my clients when they come to me for help. I see it in the faces of people telling me about how they don’t really have big dreams for their life, they just want to get by, be happy, and enjoy life. Only they are not enjoying life. They are living within the parameters of constant fear of judgement, and slowly choking the life out of their dreamer inside of them.
Authenticity is the practice of breaking out of those prison-like lives, and remembering what the dreamer in us knows we are here to build. The dreamer knows what we are capable of and what we truly want to use this life for. The dreamer knows to push on what we think is a wall, to find that there is a door or a window wide open for us to step through and find more possibility to build what we are here to build in this life.
Authenticity is the key to breaking free from the constraints of fearing judgement.
Again, this does not mean that we won’t feel that fear. The fear will be there as long as you have a human brain. That is what the brain is biologically designed to do. But we often forget that the brain is a tool we get to use, instead of it using us. Authenticity allows us to allow our brain to be a brain, while still being able to move forward into creating the life we want, instead of ending up in a prison-like life surrounded by fake walls that we allow the brain to convince us are real so that it can plan out its biological urges for comfort, security, and safety.
Authenticity is the key to break free from that prison, and create REAL safety and security for ourselves in knowing that we will always find solutions. We create real security and safety for ourselves in knowing that we will always have our back, and find a way forward. Our safety and security are no longer based in other people (where we have no control anyway). Our safety and security come back to the place where it always truly existed. That is within ourselves, and within our relationship with ourselves through authenticity.
Authenticity plays a crucial role in building and nurturing relationships. When we show up authentically in our interactions with others, we create a safe space for open and honest communication. With open and honest communication people get the true and fullest opportunity to fully see and understand one another.
Authenticity encourages genuine connection, as it allows us to be seen and accepted for who we truly are. When we choose to take a path of ease, and comfort in our relationships, often times this leads us to very inauthentic communication.
We have all been guilty of it at times. Sometimes efficiency in our communication is the priority. But this is true in very few contexts in real life. And yet, we carry this practice over so often into how we communicate in ALL contexts in life. Then we wonder why we feel so misunderstood, unsee, unheard, and disconnected in our relationships.
I want you to think of the last time someone asked you how you are doing. What was your response? Typically we give one or two word responses like “I’m fine”, or “I’m ok”, or any variation of that. And we have been so deeply socially programmed to believe that this is an honest answer, that we do not see the issue here.
The issue is this. We are very complex beings. Our experience of life, and how we are cannot be summed up into 2 words. We are many emotions, thoughts, and experiences of life all at once, at all times. But we have allowed the social pressure many time of “don’t be so complicated”, or the idea that social interactions need to be quick and easy for everyone around us so they don’t think we are annoying, complicated, or overly emotional, etc…
What this has led to is not only an expectation that asking someone how they are doing in passing, is something that is reasonable to ask, and that they should be able to sum it up in a few seconds… But we also believe for ourselves that we should be able to communicate and sum up the complex nature of how we are for someone in a few words, or seconds.
As innocent as this might seem. It has created a precedence for communication that I think we did not fully think through. It has created the idea that we as humans can and even should communicate with one another with ease and efficiency. We believe that complicated conversation, and interaction is a problem, or a sign of something negative. When it is actually quite the opposite. Complicated, and difficult conversation is the true joy of human communication.
We as humans developed communication to create more connection. And yet we seem to be using it to create more disconnection from our truth of life. All for the illusion of efficiency, and ease. And yes, it is an illusion. Because below the surface of the appearance of ease, is a ton of resentment, mistrust, feeling lonely or disconnected, and a ton of misunderstanding. This leads to ANYTHING BUT ease in the long run.
It leads to a lot of dysfunction, and dishonest relationships. These relationships are full of doubt and confusion too, because none of the parties in the relationship can understand why the misunderstanding is occurring. And this is because authentic communication has not been occurring to trace back to where the misunderstanding happened. It can take YEARS to untangle misunderstanding when we have been communicating efficiently and inauthentically for years within a relationship. But, this is what it will take to heal the relationship. So, as you can see… This ease we are thinking we gain through this short, efficient communication, is merely an illusion that will create a deep debt to be paid later in the relationship.
Authenticity, especially authentic communication is crucial for the health of our relationships. I am hoping you are seeing this now. Buying into the socially pressured belief that we should be simple, and uncomplicated in how we communicate with others, is not serving us as we thought it would. Sure, it leads to fast conversations, but at what cost in the long run? Is it really worth it?
The other side to authentic communication though, is active listening, and empathy. Often when we are efficiency focused in conversations, the conversations focus on getting to a result. They lose sight of the purpose being the journey of the conversation itself. And within this journey empathy, and active listening are crucial.
Active listening does not mean responding to everything a person says with movement, or sound. It means directly engaging your attention to what they say. It means maybe asking questions about what you are hearing and understanding to be sure that you are understanding what they want you to understand. The opposite of this is either passive listening, meaning their words do not have our focus or attention, OR it means listening simply to find your response to them, and get the conversation over with.
When we actively listening, we are listening to understand, not to respond. This does not mean that we cannot respond. The difference is purpose and intention. Are you listening simply to find where you can provide a solution and respond? Or are you listening to see where you can understand the person speaking to you even deeper than you already do? This makes the difference when it comes to active listening.
Authenticity, and authentic communication does not stop with our personal relationships. It is equally important in the professional realm. When individuals bring their authentic selves to the workplace, it fosters a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation.
Authentic leaders inspire their teams by being transparent, open, and honest. Authentic leaders are congruent with their actions in accordance to their values systems. This allows for trust from the employees to know that their leader is showing up authentically in life, and not just people pleasing them. This means employees who feel free to express themselves, and feel trusting that it will be received authentically in the work environment.
Employees who feel free to express their true selves in the workplace are more engaged, creative, and committed to their work. Embracing authenticity in the workplace benefits both individuals and organizations, leading to increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall success.
Living authentically can feel challenging at times, and I want to be clear about this. In a culture that promotes the ideas of arrival, and achievement, we often get the idea that changing our life in any way (including showing up more authentically), is about arriving at a place in life with no or very little challenge.
The truth is that life will always be 50/50. 50% of life will feel comfortable, and with ease. The other 50% will feel challenging. When we live authentically it will be no different. So you might be wondering what the point is then.
The point of living authentically is that whether you intentionally challenge yourself by choosing a path of authenticity, and journeying on it, you will face challenge. But the challenges you face when you allow your brain to react to life for you, and constantly chase paths of ease, and comfort now, then the challenges you face do not serve you to build a life you want. They are just challenges you have to survive to “get back to enjoying your life”. And your life becomes this cycle of pleasure and survival.
When you choose a path of authenticity, you choose challenges that serve you to build a life that you want. So the point of the challenges is not to survive them, and get back to life. These challenges become part of the process of enjoying your life. These challenges become a part of growing in your journey to creating the life you want and showing up in it more fully as you truly want to. They aren’t something you survive, they are something you lean into, and choose to grow through, and through this you are able to create new, fascinating, and exciting things in your life that align with what is truly important for you (not just what feels comfortable and pleasurable in the moment).
This is the last thing I want to share with you all about living authentically and making meaningful connections in life. An authentic life will have challenges. And making REAL connections in life, is about choosing our challenges in ways that serve us to show up more fully as our true selves. And in doing so we are able to communicate and connect more meaningfully and deeply. Sharing what is challenging for us in our life, and why we are choosing to move through those challenges allows for us to connect more meaningfully with the people closest to us in life. We have the opportunity to see where our journeys in life align at certain time, and lean on one another through challenges. We are able to seek support from others in our challenging times, because we are not ashamed of our challenges, we are excited by them
An authentic life creates meaningful connection in so many ways. Our challenges is one of them. Connection is what so many of us seek to feel. And the answer for that does not live out there somewhere to be searched for, and longed for. It lives within us, in those spaces we covered with inauthenticity. And the process is about removing, and remembering so that we get to show up as we were always designed to show up in our lives, and in doing so, offer the opportunity for TRUE connection.
Remember who you were designed to be in this life, show up, and connect with authenticity!
Seth Lusk, Founder, and CEO of Authentic Life Connection: coaching services. He is also the podcast creator and host for the Authentic Life Connection podcast. He is a published author of the book What I really want is… But I’m Just too full of… . This book is available on Amazon for purchase. Seth is a Life coach as well. He works with clients one-to-one as well as in groups to help them create their most authentic and fulfilling life, from the inside out. Seth is also the founder and CEO of Lusk Holistic Health Services (the umbrella company for Authentic Life Connection: coaching services). Under this umbrella company Seth also provides guidance in fitness and nutrition for his clients. This comes from his background and education in exercise science and nutrition. Seth has worked with hundreds of clients to get clear on their authentic goals for their life, fitness, and health, and helped them create unstoppable authentic action to actualize these in their lives. For more about how to get in touch with Seth or hear more about his work, you can find him @ https://www.lifecoachseth.com . There you can access his podcast, book, social media, as well as speak with Seth directly about working with him one-to-one as coach/coachee. To access the “Authentic Life Connection” podcast, follow the link below