What stops us from being authentic?

Living according to what's important and worthwhile to us is more easily talked about than carried out when the needs of family, employers or other large systems limit or influence our priorities. Three common barriers to alignment addressed in counseling for ahhthenticity are: Stifling, Meddling and Pleasing. Paradoxically, all three methods of coping with anxiety actually intensify perceived stress.

Stifling  tucking away parts of ourselves to function well in society. Some of us carry it to the point of stifling aliveness so that our sense of satisfaction and health are negatively impacted.

Meddling  oppressing anyone or anything that threatens a positive outcome. Some of us overstep our bounds to the degree that our relationships and health are damaged. Meddlers unintentionally push people away with their over-responsibility.

Pleasing  acting overly nice toward people we care about. Some of us over-accommodate to the point that we harm ourselves. Pleasers unintentionally push themselves away by ignoring their own needs.


What all three have in common is a poor relationship with self. The way we treat ourselves teaches others how to treat us, so if we treat ourselves disrespectfully, we encourage others to do the same.


When we don't speak our minds, people assume we think like they do and want the same things so they won't ask our opinions or preferences. This is what happens when stifling dominates. The more silent we are, the weaker our self-knowledge becomes. It would seem that the solution is simply to speak up, but a deeply buried belief holds us in this suppressed place -- if we make ourselves visible we become the target of something unpleasant. We attempt to make ourselves invisible for safety, but that often backfires. It makes us more vulnerable because lacking a strong voice makes others want to shout to balance the relationship. 


It would appear in meddling we are speaking our minds, but asking another person to change so that we don't feel anxious or worry about things not turning out well is not fair, much less possible. Frustrated with watching someone do things wrong (according to us), we grab the reins and come off bossy. When so highly focused on what others are doing, we ignore ourselves, the one person we actually control. Aha! The answer is simple... focus on ourselves, but, a deeply buried belief stops us --  something bad will happen if things aren't perfect. We are attempting to mani-pulate things over which we have no control to avoid bad things happening. It's an exhausting way to live.



If we've been told we are too nice, then we're likely doing a lot of pleasing. Like a chameleon, we attempt to blend in. As a result, others are just as confused about who we really are. Much mental effort goes into anticipating what others prefer or need. With so much emphasis placed on others there's little time or energy left for ourselves. Depletion is inevitable when we ignore our needs. We please to maintain connection feeling guilty when taking care of ourselves, guilt arising from a different deeply held subconscious belief -- bad things will happen if other people aren't pleased. It's not possible to maintain connection by pleasing others. We can only truly please ourselves.