One of the top benefits of coaching (and one of the least talked-about outcomes) is achieving a deeper understanding of yourself. When you understand, you can accept and embrace. Today, we need this more than ever, but self-acceptance is still very rare.
Have you ever been caught up in something, stopped and thought ‘hang on, what am I doing here?’. You’ve got swept along with something you don’t believe in, you don’t value and it doesn’t bring you any joy. Me too!
Most of us hide parts of ourselves in different situations - be it at work, home or socially. We fear what others will think, we get led into something we don’t really want to do, we are ashamed of part of us, we hold something back in case ‘we’re not good enough’. In addition, we play different roles in different areas of our life, so how do we know which 'self' in really real? Is it possible to hold on to your true self and still get ahead? The answer is ‘yes’!
At work, I have often remained quiet in a meeting for fear of looking stupid if I ask my question, or dressed a certain way (uncomfortably so) to look ‘more important’. I have acted how I thought people would want me to, or followed orders without voicing my opinion. I have tried to please others to the point of losing who I am, and I’ve tried to fit into a box of who others wanted me to be. Socially, I have stayed out longer than I wanted, drank more than I would like or said ‘yes’ to an invitation that I didn’t really want to accept. All because I thought it would make me ‘liked’ more.
And to be honest, it is exhausting. Not only is it tiring to keep second guessing and being someone you’re not, it’s easy to lose sight of the real you. Keeping up appearances to that extent takes energy, hard work and commitment and in the end drains the life from you and your relationships.
You can probably name a few reasons as to why we do it; habit, society, routine, fear of not being good / intelligent / funny / attractive enough, pressures from family / friends / employees / employers, pressure to please others, desire to be ‘perfect’….it goes on. But in the end, does it make you happy?
"If you don't know who you truly are, you'll never know what you really want." Roy T. Bennett
Your true self
We are all individuals, with unique abilities, strengths and vulnerabilities. Hiding these is not of benefit to the people we think we’re pleasing, and is detrimental to our own well-being. Exploring why we hold certain parts back or ‘act how we think we should’ is valuable information and something we explore a lot in coaching. It provides insight into why we are like we are, what we’re afraid of and what motivates us. When we know this, we can start to explore why, and get increasingly comfortable with these areas of ourselves. This is a useful starting point when trying to understand yourself on a deeper level, and to start unravelling your authentic self. It’s also one of my favourite parts of coaching - when the penny drops and people start to see themselves.
Being your authentic self enables you to communicate, perform and work with purpose and with value. You will be more passionate about the things you choose to take part in, you will work with more energy and creativity. When we play to our strengths, everyone wins.
It’s true, we have various roles in life and, naturally, our authentic self will appear stronger in some areas of life than others. Coaching helps you identify and navigate this and get a little bit closer to who you really are. Are you holding back or hiding part of yourself? I would love to hear about you and your true self below.
Gemma Brown is a certified coach who works with successful women, 1-2-1 and in groups, to identify their strengths and build confidence which enables them to have the self-belief to fearlessly bring their whole being into all areas of life. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.