Sometimes I enjoy watching “The Big Bang Theory”, a show on CBS about a little group of friends who are mostly geeks. Sheldon, the main character, is a genius who has no verbal filter and is irritating as hell because of his total self-focus and his condescending attitude toward everyone. Because they are not as smart as him. But Sheldon has something going for him. He is HONEST and genuine. He never pretends to be someone other than who he is, even if it gets him in trouble. Though his motivation for honesty comes from his sense of superiority, the fact remains, with Sheldon you always know exactly what you are going to get.
Becoming an idiosyncratic genius is not my idea of a good time, but we could all take a lesson from Sheldon in staying true to our real self. Ed Deci says, “Authenticity necessitates behaving autonomously, for it means being the author of one’s actions—acting in accord to one’s true inner self….to be authentic is to be true to one’s self.” Today’s blog is about making a new association with how we act in the world and present ourselves to others. It’s about moving away from inauthenticity, hypocrisy, and faking it, and moving toward living in genuine honesty, a type of moral integrity, in that our inner attitudes match our outward words and behaviors.
I have caught myself scoffing at politicians who like a chameleon, change exteriors so often you cannot tell his or her true colors no matter how hard you squint. They shift views, beliefs, and attitudes depending on the constituency surrounding them. I am not a politician but I have also been guilty of being a chameleon in certain situations and changing how I act based upon who I am hanging around. It is disingenuous to judge and criticize shifting loyalties and behaviors in others, when we sometime struggle with acting in similar ways. Sometimes we put on airs or a false persona for certain people, or act differently than we might if we were alone. Many of us do this to hide our humanness, our flaws, kinks, quirks and brokenness. We fear rejection so we hide the self we really are behind a “more acceptable” mask or behind an act that sometimes fools no one but ourselves.
Are the concepts of honesty, vulnerability, and genuineness still valued in our culture? Sometimes its seems that hiding, faking and guarding our true selves has become the soup de jour? However, thanks to people like Oprah, Brene Brown, Ken Wilber, Rob Bell, Richard Rohr, etc., honesty and vulnerability seem to be making a comeback. For this I am grateful. There is a true power found in raw authenticity that energizes humans to live in vitality and to bring about positive changes in our culture. A power that is rarely found in wearing a mask or a persona. Perhaps one of the reasons people like Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Dali Lama, and Jesus, just to name a few, have been able to act in ways that have changed parts of the world with present reverberations. They all live(d) honestly and let their true voices ring out loud and long to the world where they had influence, They did not hide their voices and beliefs, or spout a party line. Their passion for the greater good burned true and bright and the world was been changed.
I was just at a Rob Bell event in San Diego last night, his “Everything is Spiritual” tour. http://robbell.com/portfolio/tour/ It was amazingly life giving, and motivating. One thing he shared that really helped me was that the Universe is made up of 96% dark matter and energy and though this is not fully understood by scientists, they know that somehow this dark matter and energy are important for the overall health of the universe. And he concluded, we humans are full of dark matter as well. Our shadow sides, our wounds, histories, flaws and struggles. Rather than hiding or ignoring our own dark matter, we need to embrace it. To use the energy of the darkness inside to propel us forward into the world for good, for loving, for connecting. We all have dark matter and like the universe it is part of the overall health of our own bodies.
I have been guilty of hiding my dark matter but as I have learned to embrace my struggles and honesty share my humanness (warts and all) there is a great freedom and power that can feel almost Nuclear at times in it’s intensity and brilliance. I was given a great big universal push into healing and vulnerability a few years ago when a dear friend put me on the Cable TV show, “What Not to Wear”. http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/ My issues with beauty, identity, self-love and my discomfort with my femininity and sexuality were exposed to untold multitudes via the medium of Television. It is harder to hide when everyone is watching.
Instead of wrecking me or filling me with shame (my greatest fear), this experience opened me up to my unique beauty and value and helped me embrace my dark matter as an important part of what made me Wanda. Risking vulnerability and honesty in front of the “world” was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. When Stacy London and Clinton Kelly and all 45 of the crew, loved and accepted me even though they saw and heard about my flaws and struggles, something broke open deep in my heart and I have lived in a new experience of freedom and joy from that moment on.
At some point I will write about my “What Not to Wear” days in this blog and I am working on an Ebook about this transforming experience.. But for now, I will close by encouraging all of us to seek and find our dark matter instead of hiding from it, and to stop faking our true identities in order to receive a scrap of approval from other people who want to fit in and wear all the same logos and drive the same cars. Own who you are proudly. Don’t settle for a caricature of yourself. The world needs you to be fully who you are. You are the only you that will ever live.
1.) What messages did you receive over the years about your own dark matter? Have you been given encouragement to embrace all of yourself, or have you bought into the cultural lie of perfectionism and the need to put on a happy face that may not be fully yours?
2.) What experiences have you had with your dark matter that have turned out positively for you? Perhaps you chose to embrace and reveal it, or maybe you were universally pushed into it like I was. How has that positive experience helped you live more deeply and authentically?
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