Everything points to this, to the realization that to be happy we must live what we love, we must find our true selves, our north star.
Instead, we learn at an early age to leave ourselves, to forget what it is we love, to take on roles and identities that veil and hide our true selves. It’s something that comes up with EVERY coaching client, and every student in my creativity courses.
I’ve always had a way to speak to this ‘thing’ we humans do, but recently I came across a speaker and video that put it all into really simple words. A friend and colleague recently shared this video (below) by Dr. Gabor Maté. It is long, and it is worth every moment. While Dr. Maté is speaking to something much larger, and something very important for us all to be aware of, a part of his video is about attachment and authenticity.
Dr. Maté explains there are two things a child needs: attachment and authenticity; but when the child is young, these two things most often are at odds with each other, so the child goes for the one things she needs – to be attached to those who will make sure she survives.
“The story of your childhood is that you were born with the gut feelings intact and connected completely. But at some point something happened to you. At some point you got the message that in order to survive and to be acceptable you have to suppress your gut feelings.
Here’s how it works. Children have two needs. Infants, any human being We have two basic needs. the more immature we are the more important the first need becomes. and that’s for attachment. Attachment means the connection with another human being for the purpose of being taken care of. That’s an absolute need of a small child. Can’t live without it. Impossible. That’s one large need.
Another need however we have to function as full human beings is to be authentic. Authentic means that we know who we are, what we feel, are able to express it, and able to honor it in our behavior. So we have the need for attachment and the need for authenticity.
But what happens if in order to attach we have to suppress our authenticity, because our parents can’t handle who we are, because they can’t handle our anger as two year olds, because they can’t handle our expression of our needs, because they’re too stressed, they’re too needy? We suppress our gut feelings because the expression of them would bring us into conflict with our caregivers.
Our problem as adults is that a lot of our behaviors are coming out of our need to attach…at the expense of our authenticity.”
What happens when we must have attachment to others who require us to be something other than what we are? We attempt to become something we are not. At least we think we do. We can’t ever be what we are not…we just pretend to be.
We are loved unconditionally AND conditionally, and it’s the conditions that are required for love that are the same conditions required for attachment.
This is it. The big enchilada. This is the journey from living by our ‘gut instincts’, to the conditioned – and hopefully back to the unconditioned. This is the human journey, the human story…the story of learning, again, to be real.
One of the most popular children’s books of all time, The Velveteen Rabbit, is a story of becoming real.
And who is the child in your story? YOU. Only you can love yourself enough, unconditionally, to be real. Only you can provide this attachment. It’s an inside job this unconditional loving.
For this is where we discover true love – a love that allows others to be real without our need for their approval of our realness, and our approval of theirs.
This attachment is a place of belonging to self, a place where you come to know and feel good living in your own skin, where you trust your gut and heart, and stay true to you.
I know it has been my story.
So the ultimate choice then is to choose the unconditioned: unconditioned love, unconditioned self, unconditioned life. Life won’t put conditions on you. Others will. The opportunity is to not do it to yourself, but rather to love yourself without conditions, expectations, and judgment.
Life won’t present you with conditional attachment. You are already part of life. You belong. Right here. In your skin. Notice that…that life doesn’t present you with conditionality.
Living in the unconditioned means being free to be you…and it means the acceptance that to love another is to release the need for them to be anything other than what they are, even if they act out in response to your being authentic by un-attaching from you!
Living authentically then is also letting go of needing Life to be anything other than what it is, and presenting anything other than what it presents.
As children, we make this trade-off to ensure our survival. As adults, in order to ensure the survival of the soul, we must return to being real and to discovering this place of maturity.
And living Unabashedly Female is exactly this. What behavior do we suppress, what knowing do we suppress, what feelings do we suppress in order to stay attached to a system and culture that only accepts us if we DO NOT LIVE our power as women?
What do we hide about our female authenticity so that we will be acceptable…so we won’t be TOO MUCH…because a system can’t handle the power of the feminine?
To ensure the survival of the soul, we must live what we are.
Maybe there is really only ONE story in life…the story of learning to be real, to be unabashedly REAL in a female body.
You can watch the whole video with Dr. Maté. The part I mention is around 38 minutes in. If you can, listen to the whole thing because he speaks great wisdom about anger, emotions, and boundaries, too!