Children are brilliant. They are wise, honest and authentically themselves at each and every moment. When I say to my niece, “Do you like my new scarf?”, she doesn’t bat an eye before she sweetly, lovingly, candidly says, “No, I don’t.” It’s a precious gift we come into this world with–this ability to inhabit our fullness: our entire range of emotion, our preferences, our personality and, on a deeper level our radiance and our essential nature.
Tragically, as we move through the world our authentic self receives messages from the world around us to shrink, hold back, be polite, conform, be less of ourselves. To me this is the greatest tragedy of human kind and that which leads to the myriad of darkness and pain on our planet. It breaks my heart when I really sink into it. But, as Mary Oliver says, “I tell you this to break your heart,by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.” Like you, my heartbreaks lead to my greatest openings and this one guides me on my path and strengthens my intention for this upcoming year: To trust deeply in my authentic self, allowing her to radiate and shine in all her brightness. In turn, I create space for the children I work with and heal to radiate and shine in their brightness and authenticity.
As Lance Secretan says, “Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart and feet–thinking, saying, feeling and doing the same thing consistently. This builds trust and followers love leaders they can trust.” Trust is the foundation for relationship. And children are those followers who not only love but need leaders they can trust. They need us to provide context and ground for their experiences. When we are inauthentic, a child feels it and becomes very confused. When met with a caregiver who offers an inauthentic response, the child becomes extremely dys-regulated. She will unconsciously either up the ante or shut down emotionally. It may be a process that happens bit by bit, but it happens.
So what does authenticity look like?
Imagine this, you just walked by a neighbor who is aggressively yelling at his family and even you yourself are terrified. When you tell your child, “It’s ok, everything is fine,” your child will doubt her own experience and internalize a sense of mistrust in herself and her environment. She will form a mis-association between a deep sense of confusion, fear and things being fine. When inauthenticity takes place repeatedly, children learn that their feelings are not trustworthy, because mommy or daddy isn’t ok with feelings. She will stay in a subtle state of stress and this dys-regulation makes it difficult to relate, learn, focus, set boundaries and express. She will not know that it is safe to feel because no one every taught her that. Authenticity is the cornerstone of children’s emotional development and we need to do our own work so that we can offer this to them.
A child who is met with authenticity understands that humans have feelings and this is ok, it’s actually preferable. She trusts in her environment because she has experienced alignment of energy, words, body language and behavior from her caretakers–it has been consistent and it makes sense to her. As such, she knows how to express herself in a way that honors the truth of who she is and the boundaries she has. She can stand up for herself and have deep compassion for others. She feels safe allowing her radiance and her light beam through her by way of words, deeds, relationships and more.
When we were the child in the former scenario, it isn’t always easy to be authentic as an adult. But it is essential if we want to raise our children in this conscious, loving, Truthful way. So we do our own work. We set out on a journey to reclaim the parts of ourselves that were not allowed to show up. We allow our children to see us doing this and we even let them know that this is our path.
And I leave you with this–a quote from Marianne Williamson, a woman truly embodied in her authenticity. Oh and, she’s running for Congress on a very unique platform. Check her out… http://www.marianneforcongress.com
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And 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.”