A theme that has been coming up in my sessions lately has been about choosing to be authentically who we are versus being what we think others want us to be.

Last week a client told me something she has not told anyone else. In fact, it contradicted something she’d said earlier in the session.

I said “I’m so glad you told me.” She didn’t believe me. What she told me, she felt, put her in a less favorable light. Wouldn’t I rather hear what she was doing “right” rather than where she was “failing?”

I responded that I would rather know who is she really is versus who she thinks she should be. That is when the best therapeutic work is done. When clients are brave enough to show who they really are, I am thrilled.

First, it shows great courage to let others see us. It means we trust ourselves enough to know we will be ok, even if others disapprove. It is an act of faith in ourselves to be able to disappoint others in order to be true to ourselves.

Second, I believe we do our best work when we are able to see all of ourselves, and what we are capable of, good and bad.

I remember when I was struggling because I was really, really, really, letting myself face my fears and weaknesses. I call it my “dark night of the soul.” I was talking to a friend, and I was questioning if I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t happy, and I certainly wasn’t always happy with what I was seeing in myself. (That, by the way, is the understatement of the year.)

She told me something I will never forget. She said “You’ll get through this, but you already have a gift you didn’t have before.” I said “Really? What?” She said, “You are more real.”

She was right. I was more real, with myself and with everyone else. And the wonderfully strange thing was, even though I felt miserable with what I was going through, I also felt loved—loved by others and by myself. Loved for who I really am, not for who I thought I should be.

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