Carol the Coach: Be Authentic

Do you have difficulty feeling genuine around people?  Do you ignore your feelings, fears and insecurities and project an image that prevents people from knowing the real you?  Are you the type of person who hides your vulnerabilities in an attempt to hide your pain?  If this sounds like you, then it is likely that you don’t talk, trust, or feel in your relationships with others.

Human beings basically have the same needs.  However, some are born needing more while others are born needing less.  It is your upbringing and genetics that helps you to determine the intensity for which you need attention, affection, love and nurturance from others. 
If you grew up taking care of others it is likely that your basic needs were not met. As you grew older, you might have felt uncomfortable when others tried to take care of you.  More than likely, you kept your feelings hidden and were not even aware that they were there. (Suppressing your feelings interfered with your ability to trust other people.)
Children with unmet needs learn how to suppress them. This also insulates them  from the pain of not having those needs met.  Children develop a reaction formation. Inside they are needy but outside they may appear confident, capable, and self-assured. They learn self-sufficiency to avoid needing others. 

For example, most people have the need to be touched. Some require more affection than others.  If they didn't get enough affection as a child they may deny the need and develop the preference not to be touched.     People are unable to physically get close to them.  It appears that they don't want the emotional connection that accompanies affection; when in reality; the need is buried deep inside of them. 

People who don't express their needs typically don’t talk, trust, or feel. They have difficulty being true to their selves. They don’t trust that they can share with others their true thoughts or feelings.  As a result, they are unable to identify what their genuine needs are. They may begin to medicate their unconscious feelings with drugs, alcohol, work, or other compulsions. Some people may overcompensate by over-working.  Their self-esteem may be based solely on achievements and accomplishments because they have no sense of their own authenticity.  In many cases, children whom have been abused or lived in alcoholic families have difficulty with talking, feeling, and trusting.

If you struggle with these issues you will find the following suggestions helpful.  

Work on sharing your thoughts
•    Find someone with whom you can share your innermost feelings. 
•    Attend a group that will support your recovery.
•    Pick a counselor who will help you develop the trust you need to feel safe. 
Assess your primary feelings daily
•    Use a journal to identify your feelings for each day.  Choose one of the following feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, loneliness and fear to assist you in how you feel on a daily basis. Rating your day will give you practice in feeling identification. Your feelings can guide your decisions.
Find people who are safe and that you can trust
•    Begin to take tiny risks that address your vulnerabilities.
•    Find people who will validate you and help you to work through your feelings. 
•    Believe that your life will be better when you begin to face your fears and get real about who you are--feelings, insecurities and all.  

Be true to yourself and resolve to discover the real you.  It takes courage to share your vulnerabilities. Learning to get your needs met is worth the risk.