Using Authenticity To Create Heart Connections: Part 1
About a month ago, I was standing in front of 10,500 people who had gathered from 54 different countries. My face, puffy and red from crying, was projected onto a jumbo-tron screen. My hands, shaking, were somewhat successfully holding a microphone that I was to speak into when addressing the man in front of me.
The man in front of me was Tony Robbins, and I was pouring my heart out to him and 10,500 in an intimate, intense moment where I had tapped into guilt and shame that I'd been holding down for a long time. That shame was that I didn't think I was going to be a good mother, and I felt guilty because I suspected my misalignment with the identity of motherhood had something to do with a loss of a baby earlier this year. That was a weight like a black stone that I kept on top of my heart.
This was a twenty minute exchange that involved women coming out of their seats and holding me and kissing me. It was twenty minutes that resulted in forgiveness, ecstasy and release. And it was twenty minutes opened my eyes - wide - to the power of authenticity.
That's because for the rest of the event, which spans over four days, men and women came up and told me intimate stories of loss and celebration. Of long days raising a child and developing a business. Of the rocky road of relationship recovery when two people create then cope with the devastation of loss with varying degrees of success and failure. A woman paid for my coffee at Whole Foods and when I told her "thank you" she started to cry and I hugged her and kissed her head over and over again - I can only IMAGINE what the barista was thinking looking back on it.
Other people took on support roles, not wanting me to carry their stories, but wanted to carry me. Event staff members wanted to make sure I had good nutrition and got me smoothies from Whole Foods. I made new friends who text me now reminding me that I walk on fire. Other people who were next to me in the audience would do things to make me laugh - not that the event was short on it - and make sure that I was comfortable.
Countless people said "thank you" to me and told me how badly they needed to hear my story.
Now, here's the thing. This isn't about the not-guru, this isn't about a moment of fame or being treated like seminar royalty. This is about a lesson that anyone who has ever felt alone, or depressed or isolated or "not like the others" needs to hear.
I've felt all of those things. I've felt alone; I'm a military spouse who is also kind of anti-social. I've been depressed, but that was unpacked by the non-guru into nice little suitcases that I kicked out of my psychic realms. I've felt isolated; I often feel like a duck out of water around normal social functions where other people seem perfectly fine. I've definitely felt "not like the others"; sometimes my answers of plans of grandeur garner blank stares from people who up until I told them what I'm up to thought they might want to get to know me.
In that moment in front of 10,500, there was a part of me that wanted to shrink into myself and to tell the arena that everything was fine, just kidding, I'm not bummed about anything. But there was a split second where I made a decision to lock in and just do the thing. It was one of the scariest things that I've ever done. I had to be vulnerable, imperfect and messy. I couldn't be my ego's version of myself: articulate, perfect make-up and really put together.
But had I stayed in my ego and committed to my ego self, I would have wasted everyone's time including my own. If I had stayed in my ego self and not committed to authenticity, I wouldn't have opened up my heart and given the chance to others to open up theirs. I wouldn't have made the connections that I made. If I had shrunk into myself and declined the opportunity to show this arena of people who I was, I would have only been inviting the continued experience of feeling alone, of being depressed, of identifying as not like the others (which, by the way, HELLO! is a super good thing) or whatever it was.
However, I did NOT decline that opportunity. I embraced the opportunity to be authentic and loneliness, depression, isolation and feeling unlike the others is not a thing.
ACTION ITEM FOR READERS: Where do you secretly desire to be more understood? Is it at work? In your intimate relationship? Your friendships? With your family? What about you are you holding back from fear of being judged or looking messy? If you're feeling really brave, you can leave your answers in the comments!