Last week I attended a training session on emotional intelligence, and something the facilitator said stuck with me. “What we see in people is really like an iceberg.” This is so true; most of us hide our insecurities, fears, and dreams, fearing what others will think. So we hide these parts of ourselves below the surface, showing only what we feel will be accepted.
Along my journey, I found that when I grew the most, I was the most vulnerable, and there was someone there who took the time to get to know me and provide authentic support. By being vulnerable, I became real instead of the image or front I placed in front of myself in protection. People began to see me for who I am instead of who I thought they wanted me to be.
For the majority, this brought us significantly closer. I heard things like “you’re different than I thought you’d be” from people who knew my life. And from those who had known me for a long time, “I’m so happy for you,” “wow, what have you been doing to have such a positive impact.”
It wasn’t all pretty
I won’t lie. Some didn’t like it at all. When I looked deeper, these were the people I had pretended to be aligned with their values to please them, like a boss or coworker. This wasn’t an intentional deception on my part; it was the reaction of a lack of self-worth. I didn’t know I had a choice to have my values, live by them, and be accepted. I had grown up following someone in my life, believing their way was the only way. That hiding how I felt was the only way to survive.
Eventually, my truth started to come through. It was like an explosion; messy, loud, and disruptive. The conversations I needed to have with those not on board with the change were strained. I own this strain; they were caught off guard and surprised. I wish I had known and shared what I now know was happening to make the transition easier for them. In some cases, I lost the relationship, which was painful at first, but now I see that I was not genuinely myself, so our relationship wasn’t real.
I hope you share your iceberg.
Since taking this journey to my authentic self, I have found many others who have done the same. Each of us finds a community where it is safe to show all parts of our iceberg; the parts of us that glisten under the sun and the parts of us that we want to hide below the surface. It isn’t easy, but the reward is living authentically and sharing ourselves with others. It is the most beautiful thing I have experienced. I can honestly say it is one of the parts of my journey I am most proud of. It has enriched my relationships with my children, husband, friends, and family. It was allowing me to spend less energy hiding from the world to invest that energy in sharing my joy.
I want this for you too. So, if you would like to work on this yourself, here is some homework.
1. Pick one person you feel safe with, and share one to two things you are afraid to share.
2. Then, hold this space for them to do the same.
That’s it! Please come back and share how it goes. I’d love to hear what challenges and successes you faced in this assignment. Until then, please take a moment to thank yourself for being present and mindful of your personal growth.
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