22: Being you (Authentically)



From the moment we are born, we will most likely have been moulded to please others. Whether it comes from our family of origin, our carers or our culture, we often learn to put a mask on and be an actress in the movie that is our life.

Unfortunately, being someone else will hardly leave us feeling fulfilled. Fulfilment requires us to dig deep to uncover and remember a version of self that is unique, authentic and deeply expressive. If you’ve veered off the path of your own authenticity, this process will likely lead you through a fiery transformation, only to course-correct to a version of your life that was inevitably designed and destined for you.

From the moment we are born, we will most likely have been moulded to please others. Whether it comes from our family of origin, our carers or our culture,  we often learn to put a mask on and be an actress in the movie that is our life.

Unfortunately, being someone else will hardly leave us feeling  fulfilled. Fulfilment requires us to dig deep to uncover and remember a version of self that is unique, authentic and deeply expressive. If you’ve veered off the path of your own authenticity, this process will likely lead you through a fiery transformation, only to course-correct to a version of your life that was inevitably designed and destined for you.

The thing with this is that in order to live a life of freedom, you will have to commit to exploring the dark shadows and crevices that reside within, moving towards the behaviours that may be holding you in patterns of destruction.

With commitment, vulnerability, and curiosity, you will uncover layers of yourself so as to strip bare to allow the various masks you’ve worn, to drop away.

“The power you have is to be the best version of yourself you can be; so that you can create a better world.”


What does it mean to ‘be yourself?’

 It’s sometimes easier to explain something by identifying what it IS NOT. That said, here’s a list of what being yourself isn’t:

• Being true to yourself is not about pleasing others;

• Being true to yourself is not about obligation;

• Being true to yourself is not about forcing yourself to do something that’s out of alignment for you;

• Being true to yourself is not about guilting yourself into action;

• Being true to yourself is not about judging others and comparing  yourself;

• Being true to yourself is not about self-victimisation;

• Being true to yourself is not about vanity metrics;

Being true to yourself means that you live a life of congruency, in complete integrity with your beliefs, values, and, most of all, with what feels right in your heart. When there is an alignment with your inner self  (emotions, states, and desires) and outer self (behaviours, communication,  and relationships), you align yourself with the most true and authentic version of yourself - your HIGHER SELF.


We tend to shape-shift depending on the people we surround ourselves with.  Being dishonest is one of the most common mistakes we make in life that  keeps the best version of ourselves at bay.

“Every decision you make reflects your evaluation of who you are.”


It takes a long time to realise that the external world is a projection of what is happening internally. Since the external world is a holographic reflection of our insides, it can give us a lot of information about ourselves when we take the time to observe with curiosity.

For example, if you dislike your job, it could be a sign that you don’t recognise your natural skills and abilities. That you are unable to clearly see what you are capable of, and what comes most naturally for you; and you therefore settle for jobs that you dislike because you don't think you can do any better. It’s almost like you are creating your own misery.

“You don’t see the world as it is, you see it according to who you are.”


CONTEMPLATION: Take a moment to list some of the things that you dislike in your  environment. That could be the way that your romantic partner treats you,  the way that your family makes you feel about yourself or your professional  life.

If you could change something about your life, what would it be?

Next, let’s explore the world of REACTIVITY and all the events and experiences that make you reactive.


Instead of running from them, we can use these triggers to highlight the aspects of our shadow-self. Questions that I ask my clients when delving into shadow work:

  1. Do you know the underlying motivations that drive your actions?  What are your intentions?

  2. Are there parts of yourself that you deny or suppress because you’re ashamed or even afraid of them?

  3. Do you know your unique mission in life?

For many, the answers to these questions are mixed. You’re probably quite confident in your key personality traits, and you can easily list the roles you play in your public and private life.

Yet you know that there’s more to you, hiding under the surface—and if you could just bring these parts into the light, you would have access to so much more power, joy, and purpose.

The secret to discovering these parts lies in the Shadow, which brings me to Shadow work, which isn’t as dark and mysterious as it sounds.

Shadow-Work is about looking at what seems out of balance within our lives, so that we can bring it back to balance or at least in harmony with what is.


Your limbic lobe (a system of brain structures) is directly connected to the parts of your brain that control many aspects of your body – hormone levels, stress, memory, breathing, heart rate, and more.

One of the key areas of your brain that deals with showing, recognising and controlling the body's reactions to emotions is known as the limbic system.  Emotions, like fear and love, are carried out by the limbic system, which is located in the temporal lobe. While the limbic system is made up of multiple parts of the brain, the centre of emotional processing is the amygdala, which receives input from other brain functions, like memory and attention.  Feelings of depression, fear, anger, happiness, joy and even anxiety all originate from the limbic lobe of the brain.

*image from the the science of psychotherapy linked on image


Learning what animates you (aka what triggers you) will help you to move from being reactive to being responsive; intentionally choosing to what and how you respond to others.  If you don't know your triggers; you're a ticking time-bomb. This reaction is a response in the brain which is commonly called an ‘Amygdala hijack’.  This is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

An Amygdala Hijack is an immediate and overwhelming emotional response out of proportion to the stimulus because it has triggered a more significant emotional threat. The amygdala is the part of our brain that handles emotions. During an Amygdala Hijack, the amygdala "hijacks" or shuts down the neo-cortex.

Are there some subjects that you avoid discussing with others because you  know they animate you too much? Do you sometimes find yourself easily offended by others?

When we are triggered by something external to us, we tend to launch into one of three reactions. Fight; Take Flight; or Freeze.

  1. Fight - Where we project our emotion onto others. Perhaps we become angry, or blame others for what we are experiencing. Blaming others for our state of mind and situation automatically hands over our power to the one you’re projecting to. If I give you power, then you can change my life. With this in mind, you can see why you’re constantly reacting to events because you allow them to have power over you. The more emotional control you can foster, the more space you create between the stimuli and your reaction, the more you’ll be able to cultivate an intentional response to the situation, which means that you’re acting in alignment with what’s true for you (not reacting from past traumas and wounds).

  2. Take Flight - This is essentially running away from the situation. Trying to avoid it, numb from it, and or ignore its existence. It’s too painful, uncomfortable, or confrontational so you’d rather pretend it’s not there. From a neuro-chemical point of view, whether you're in fight or flight, the release of norepinephrine (the fight or flight chemical) is released as a stress reaction, and within nano-seconds, hormonal changes take place in the body.  This trigger response does not only change the way you think and feel, but it induces chemical changes in the body that will have you ready to run, hide and or physically fight. The surge of energy you feel in your physical body isn’t just simply because you’re animated, there are chemical changes taking place which you may experience as heat, tingles, quickening heart-rate, sweaty palms. Norepinephrine is also known as noradrenaline, and is both a hormone and a brain neurotransmitter, or chemical. It's mainly stored in the neurons (nerve cells) of the sympathetic nervous system with small amounts also stored in adrenal tissue, which lay on top of your kidneys.

  3. Freeze is the reaction that happens when you do nothing. You can’t find your voice, nor take action on anything.


First, you have to accept that the only things you can change in this world are your behaviour, your mindset, and your communication style. As you  probably know by now, you have no control over other people’s behavior or thoughts. Make a decision now that you will no longer outsource your challenges, nor blame others or external factors.

Second, learn to be aware of your behavior and thoughts, especially when  you go into that space of projecting your emotions onto others. Start by making a list of what you feel triggers you.

Some examples could be politics, injustice, self-centered people, incompetence, etc. Try to be as specific as possible by using an example to explain the trigger. All triggers stem from a primal fear of safety. If you can access the struggle within and locate the reasons as to why you feel unsafe, then you’ll be able to unravel in a more efficient and powerful way.


  1. What experiences trigger my fear?

  2. What thoughts trigger my fear?

  3. What are the feelings that come over me when I’m in fear?

  4. How does my fear affect my behaviour?

  5. I tend to react emotionally to the following:

Once you’ve become clear about the above, try to understand why you get so  reactive to those situations or subjects.

Now, make a plan to respond differently in the future when those situations or subjects arise. How will you better handle your emotions in these  situations?

“The feeling of being offended is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues.”


By having the courage to understand yourself in this intimate and deep way, you are taming the shadows that have been following you, sometimes for years. It’s not always easy, but  when you face your dark side, you bring it to light and immediately allow yourself to shine brighter than ever. You’re essentially carving out space for yourself, to heal deep wounds.

Taking responsibility for your own happiness starts by recognising your responsibility in your life > this inevitably means that you stop giving your power to others. When you blame others, you do not own your responsibility in your life. For example, if you continuously blame external factors for the life that you live, you are giving your powers away. You’re willing to put your life into the hands of others. You are allowing others to dictate your behavior and mindset.

If you want to be unapologetically YOU, you have to take ownership of your life. Start by being aware when you blame others for the situation you are in and shift your mindset to owning what’s yours to own. Take back your power and choose to live the life that you want.

When you can  maintain a healthy mindset and break the habit of reacting rather than responding, you cultivate more equanimity. Each one of us has our own connection to our power (the you-ness that is uniquely YOU) and how you feel about it, will render how empowered or disempowered you feel.

Knowing how to accept, love-on, and intentionally funnel your power will open you up to experience life and love and play and joy in a deeper and more connected way.

 It’s equanimity at its most potent.


thinking of exploring this work a bit deeper WITH ARIANNA



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