Unlocking the Freedom of Showing Up AuthenticallyJan 10, 2023
Revealing your true self in the public sphere can be a daunting prospect: you’re putting yourself out there for all the world to see, which opens you up to criticism, judgement, and people who don’t always operate with kindness. So why on earth would you ever make yourself so vulnerable?
Because authenticity is a freedom all of its own.
As a mental health professional, I have a pretty good sense of who I am, what I believe in, and what I stand for – but even with that self-knowledge, showing up authentically isn’t always easy. Experiencing bullying at school had a monumental impact on my self-esteem; I’ve also struggled with balancing my professional persona with the person beneath the therapist veil.
But the more I reveal, the freer I feel.
Walking a tight line: the balance between showing up, and revealing too much
Being a therapist – and a working mum – means that my mind is often full. And as a therapist, I know that one of the best ways to deal with overwhelm is to share; to get those thoughts out. Because when we speak up, and other people relate, we know we’re not alone – but if we’re ever going to get that clarity of connection, it has to be authentic.
So, what does showing up authentically mean to me?
One of the greatest gifts that you can give to yourself is to let go of the idea that you need to be like other people: like anybody, other than YOU. Nobody else has your experiences, your personality, your thoughts, or your unique perspective on the world – so don’t hide what makes you, you.
Connecting with people – whether through social media or out there in the real world – becomes a whole lot easier when you show your personality, and the innermost truth of who you are. There is of course often a battle over just how much of yourself you feel able (or willing) to share.
When you’re a therapist in training, you’re taught not to disclose your own issues during therapy work with clients; it’s good advice, but it can leave you with a sense of confusion around how much of yourself you can comfortably reveal – especially when posting online from a professional account.
Over time, as I’ve become more at ease with social media and my place within it, I’ve reached a place of understanding with my own comfort levels: there are things that I’m happy to reveal about myself because I think they can help others. This includes my own experiences with bullying, and the struggles I had growing up with depression.
I believe it’s also important for my clients to see me as human. We all have a past; we’ve all made mistakes; we’ve all had to deal with difficult times. And as mental health professionals, we’re even better placed to support people through their own troubled times when we’ve experienced challenges ourselves.
Therapists shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal or be seen as having everything figured out; that makes us unreachable, when we’re all just normal people. In fact, many therapists got to where they did today because of their own experience with trauma or mental ill health.
So don’t ever feel the need to hide who you are, or the cumulative experiences that have gone into making you the person – and the professional – you are today.
Natasha Page (Founder of My Little Therapy Box)
I am always happy to connect on my social channels please feel free to send me a message. Share your thoughts with me via email @ [email protected] or on my social channels, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn .
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