Back when I first training to become a therapist I was told I didn’t have “therapist hair” and everyone would questions my qualifications and no one would take me seriously with this hair and I’d have to revamp my entire image and go and buy some “office clothes.”
I was told I needed to take out my piercings and brush out my dreads and look “normal” and “presentable”- whatever that means.
I understand there’s an expecatation to dress in a professional manner sure but how can I speak to my clients about authentically being themselves if I’m so busy trying to turn myself into something I’m not. If I can’t walk my walk and talk my talk how can I expect my clients to!
I want to see a therapist who lives their life honouring their authentic truth.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Authenticity is about making informed decisions based on your own self knowledge.
The philosopher Allan Bloom called the self “the mysterious, free, unlimited center of our being.”
Our society places a lot of emphasis on masking our true self to please others expectations or to conform. However if we are playing out the projections others put onto us we are not living out our authentic Self.
This authentic Self is always trying to come to our attention no matter how much we try and push it down and ignore it. Our own authentic self gets buried under painful childhood memories and other emotional and mental baggage.
Often our inner critic is such a harsh monster that as we try to balance it out by sucking up any validation or flattery we can find. Our true self gets buried in this to and fro conflict.
This deep inner craving for authenticity that is with us all throughout our life. It impacts how we exist in relationships, sexual relating, work and play.
I see my clients wearing masks and how it can make them so unhappy. Have you felt trapped in a routine or life that doesn’t seem like your own? It might feel like emptiness or self betrayal or it might come out as the fear of not being liked or wanted. Perhaps you feel like you must fit in with whoever you are hanging out with and keep your opinion to yourself for fear of upsetting anyone?
When I was a young teenager I first started falling in love with the music and expression of metal and punk music. I shaved the sides of my head with razors, had black and pink dreadlocks and mohawks and had so much fun expressing myself however I liked. This was long before it became fashionable and it was pretty ‘out there’ at the time.
I used material dye to dye my hair shades of purple and green. That was before I discovered this one little store at Centrepoint in Sydney that sold blue, pink and purple Directions hair dye. I pierced my nose with a safety pin when I was 15 and made clothes myself and ripped up op shops clothes into new articles of clothing.. These decisions all emanated from my own inner values about who I was and embracing the DIY spirit on as many levels as possible.
I was expressing my need for creativity. This was my fundamental authentic truth.
My hair was symbolic to me of feeling comfortable with who I was. Obviously hair is just a simple example and I could go much more deeper but it’s enough to highlight my point.
The reason I’m bring up these younger examples is because I want to ask you this question– What did your younger Self absolutely love to do?
What things were really fun for your younger self and how did you pass your leisure time?
What did you do on your weekends?
Did you love climbing trees? Make time to include activites in your life now that you loved as a child. Let go of how silly you might feel or how your inner critic tries to talk you out of it. Have fun and remember the fun things you did as a kid.
What did your younger self dream of for their older adult self and how is that different to where you’re at right now?
Did young you dream of being a writer, a vet or a sailor? Even if now you can’t become a vet, you can still volunteer at your local animal shelter. Even if you didn’t become a sailor, perhaps spend a day off at the Maritime Museum, explore a naval vessel on its open day or hire a boat for the day with friends.
Get back in touch with what you’ve pushed down to the side.
Getting in touch with those things that made us so happy when we were younger before we were bogged down with adult responsibilities can help us get back in touch with fun and our authentic selves.
Shaping fun self care activities is authenticity at work.
Don’t bother with the self care 101 exercises you read in magazines unless they appeal to you. Do the specific self care exercises that feed your inner child and inner adolescent. Authentic self care isn’t a cookie cutter on size fits all process.
Be prepared that it won’t be easy. This self knowledge isn’t for the faint of heart and sometimes it can be scary to be authentic.
Showing up and sharing your gifts is what the world needs more of.
Published by Cat O Dowd
Cat is a clinical sexologist, relationship psychotherapist, certified sex therapist, art therapist, transpersonal counsellor, sex and relationship educator and columnist and award winning, internationally published erotic photographer.
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