Be Beautiful, Be Yourself

This post is not about food.

Little Shannie, circa 1983

Little Shannie, circa 1983

That little girl is me – joyful, exuberant, and so alive. I look at that picture with tears in my eyes, knowing that this is truly who I am - just little ol' me shining bright. Somehow, as I grew up, I lost touch of what this feels like.

Do You: Always, All Ways.
— Cynthia Pasquella, #ITNLIVE2016

One of my biggest ah-ha, heart explosion moments at ITN Live (a nutrition, business, and mindset mastery conference for Transformational Nutrition coaches) this past weekend was being surrounded by my tribe - conscious people who get me, and finally feeling like I could allow myself to be FULLY seen. Together, we created a space where the words “be yourself” felt like so much more real and possible than just a cliché meme you see on Instagram.

The result? Tears of joy. Waves upon waves of emotion - the kind that break your heart right open.

Of course, this naturally caused me to reflect on what holds me back from being myself all the time. One of my worst enemies and best teachers: FEAR. Fear of judgment and rejection, and fear of the resulting isolation and loneliness that comes from being (potentially) criticized. And sometimes, we aren't ourselves because we don't even know who we are, especially when we live life according to the rules and expectations of others. When we bury all of the things that make us unique just to fit in and be accepted, we can create negative habits that affect our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. This can lead to illness, depression, and feeling lost.

Sound familiar?

{Vulnerability moment}: I catch myself self-editing all the time – in my conversations, writing, social media, etc. While I am fully aware of this, it hasn't stopped me from caring about what people think. Yes, I've checked to see how many likes I get when I post on social. Yes, in the past I’ve been bummed when I see I’ve lost followers. Yes, I've held back expressing my truth in fear of hurting others, or because I fear people will think I'm woo-woo or weird. It frustrates me that I feel this way, but I do. Just like everyone else, I want to be accepted.

But before all of that, I must accept and love myself.

When I am UNAFRAID to express all the different (and sometimes opposing) facets of who I am: intelligent, humorous, witty, sassy, goofy/fun-loving, playful, passionate, stubborn, sensitive, extroverted AND introverted, rebellious, thoughtful, energetic, strategic, hopeful, contemplative, inquisitive, etc. – I feel ALIVE. As I get older, I am becoming more unapologetic about who I am, and it is so freeing. As I peel back the layers of who I am, I am amazed by what I learn and see. As part of this evolution, I notice a prevalent theme of letting go – of old habits, careers, relationships, beliefs, etc. – all to make room for something bigger and more authentic. Always another lesson, another teacher waiting in the wings.

Truly, there is no action or doing in "being you". You already ARE you. What is required instead is self-awareness of all the qualities that make up who you are. With this awareness, it is possible to make the conscious choice to drop the façade - a peeling back of the layers, and breaking down of the barriers you have built up to protect yourself from pain. This is an introspective journey that takes a lifetime (or perhaps more than one if you believe in that sort of thing 😉 ). However, I have found that as I have become more open about who I am, I have started to attract people, opportunities, and experiences into my life that bring me immense joy. And once you start to experience that, there is no going back. No hiding anymore.

The first step to "be yourself" is to shine a light on who you really are. Journaling is one of my favorite ways to get the heart of any matter, so I have created a journaling worksheet to help you build the self-awareness that will help you take a step forward towards embracing and deeply loving who you are.

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