Most of us have parts of ourselves that we don't always show to the world or even dare to admit to ourselves: our vulnerabilities, perceived weaknesses, struggles, insecurities, thoughts and feelings, hidden behaviours, the things we aren't proud of, the parts of ourselves that we see as being different or unacceptable or perhaps the parts that we fear will be rejected.
When I kept my mental health battles hidden, it became second nature for me to hide parts of me, the parts of me that were struggling. I have never seen myself as being someone who is dishonest in any way. I like to be upfront, and whilst I am diplomatic, I can also say it as it is. I value frankness, and I am not accepting of dishonesty. But what I came to realise is that I was being untruthful. I was being untruthful with myself around how I was feeling and what I was experiencing.
"I came to realise that I was being untruthful."
During that time, when my mental health was at its worse, I seemed to attract a lot of untruthful people into my life - people who weren't being totally real with me, and I couldn't figure out why that was? It was so far from the truth of who I am, and what I believed I was putting out into the world, and it didn’t seem justified because I knew that I was a real and genuine person.
I’ve always been into alternative therapies, and I went to an energy healing session one day, and spoke to the practitioner about my frustrations with the dishonesty I was experiencing in my life. She pointed out to me that I wasn't being totally honest either. It took me back a bit, because again, I see myself as a real person who always does my best to be honest in my dealings. But then it dawned on me that she was right. I was hiding things. I wasn't in any way a deceitful or dishonest person, but my energy was hiding something. By not opening up and by disowning what I was experiencing, I wasn't honouring my truth, and my truth was that I was struggling with a mental health issue, but I was doing everything in my power to hide it.
"authenticity requires us to speak our truth and to own our experiences."
If I ever doubted the idea of there being a law of attraction – the idea that you attract what you are - then you could say it was shown to me, because whilst I am not a dishonest person, there was a form of secrecy in me, by me not opening up, and it would seem that I was attracting that same energy. I was attracting people that were hiding things and that weren’t being real with me, but I wasn't being real with me either!
I wasn’t being totally authentic because I was still hiding parts of me, and the real me is made up of all parts of me. I think there are a number of reasons why I was experiencing what I was, but in trying to figure out why, I learnt something perhaps even more valuable, and that was that authenticity requires us to speak our truth and to own our experiences.
By no means do I think that not speaking up makes someone a bad person or a weak person (it is incredibly strong to battle things out on your own) nor do I think that not speaking up is morally corrupt, and I definitely don't think that it makes someone dishonest in the way that we typically view that word, because I wouldn’t use that word to describe myself. But when we don't honour all parts of ourselves, including the darker parts of ourselves that we don't like, and when we hide parts of ourselves, we do ourselves a disservice because it is a form of being inauthentic with ourselves.
"What you don't own, will own you."
There is so much freedom and power in being vulnerable and connecting with your truth. It's liberating because you are saying to the world " this is me, and I am okay with it”. It is amazing how many people will then be accepting of you, when you accept you. And the ones who aren't will fall away and don't need to be around you anyway.
The thing about speaking and owning your truth is that it takes the power away from whatever it is you are hiding from; what you don't own, will own you. And when you take your power back, it is incredible how much of a weight can be lifted just by speaking your truth out aloud and owning. It is empowering, not weakening.
It can be hard to show all parts of ourselves, and often when we do, it will only be to a select and trusted few (and that's okay - not everyone needs to know your deepest and darkest secrets). I think those deeper parts of who you are are sacred, and whilst it is so important to have people around you that you can tell things to, you don't need to tell everyone everything. Do what feels right for you.
Learning to accept all parts of you, and being okay with you, is key to living an authentic and fulfilling life. Acceptance is a form of honouring who you are, and a huge part of honouring who you are, involves speaking and owning your truth. Whether it be a mental health battle or something else in your life that you are feeling and experiencing, do your best to honour your truth by admitting it to yourself, sharing it out aloud and owning it. You cant go wrong when you are being your true authentic self. And as we all know, your truth will follow you around until you do acknowledge it.
Practising authenticity in the way of speaking and owning your truth is a life-time job and something that gets easier the more you do it! Stay true to you - all parts of you are real, and very human.
Contributor: Rochelle Smith, founder of The Honour Project and The Honour Clinic