Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Authentic Self

My close friends have to deal with frequent expressions of love and gratitude. I'm guilty of sending cards, emails, and text messages repeatedly saying how much I appreciate and value their presence in my life. I do this because it’s important. I am committed to their well-being so in addition to providing companionship, I take the role of encourager and uplifter seriously. I don’t want anyone in my inner circle to ever doubt their significance or importance.

Over the years I've questioned if my unsolicited, love-induced messages were misunderstood or simply too much. On the surface, expressions of love should be easily absorbed, yet most have been hurt by someone they trusted, making it difficult to comprehend and accept genuine, no-strings-attached emotional affection. I wondered if my freedom shined a light on their confinement in expressing or accepting love. Considering a larger landscape I thought about scaling back. The last thing I wanted for my loved ones was to cause uncomfortable feelings. Or so I thought.

As I contemplated changing my behavior, I dug a little deeper. Love-based relationships will have periods of nudging, working, and healing and building. Genuine relationship requires nudging people out of their comfort zones in order to be better. Patience leads us to walk with others as they work through conflict and pain. Devotion encourages collaborative emotional healing and building. As long as love remains at the core, these periods of strengthening will create healthier individuals and as a result, healthier relationships.

Instead of changing my behavior I needed to decide what was worth more. Did I want to eliminate or reduce one of my favorite qualities in order to chase perceived comfort and ease? Or was it more important for me to remain my most authentic self and provide positive consistency to those who needed reassurance in goodness?

My choice was clear. I could do the greatest good by fully being my most authentic self—my open, vulnerable, silly, intentional, patient, giving, intelligent, curious, sometimes shy, sometimes overly sensitive, loves-hard self. When I commit to being authentic—even when it's uncomfortable, even when I'm uncertain of how it will be perceived—I give others the freedom and permission to fully be authentic, too.

Just as I have a role in the lives of those I love, your loved ones depend on you in order to maintain and grow. They need your support, comfort, consistency, and love in the way that only you can provide it. They need your stories, your laughter, your honesty, and your embrace. Without you, their lives would not be the same. Without you, their paths would be drastically altered. Don't discount your influence. Don't minimize your impact. Don't diminish your importance. In order for your loved ones to reach their best, they need you. They need you to be your most authentic self, in your wonderful, quirky, humorous, loving, and complex entirety.

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