To live authentically means to live wholeheartedly, without holding back, in accordance with what you know in your own heart to be true for you. It means showing up in your life with courage, paying attention to your experiences (particularly with others), and acknowledging and connecting with your deepest needs in order to create and live a life that is spontaneously satisfying.
Authenticity and Mindfulness
Authenticity involves mindfulness, that is, pausing to pay attention to your ongoing experiences, the joy as well as pain, with a sense of openness, curiosity, honesty, and acceptance. You can learn to allow your thoughts and feelings to simply arise in the present moment without having to resist, avoid, deny, manipulate or control them. When we turn toward what is happening in the present and pause from resisting whatever discomfort we find there, we can develop a space in our awareness that surrounds our experiences with kindness and the transformative power of approach and acceptance. It is then possible to let all of your experiences inform you about what is happening for you, what things mean to you, discover what you value and what you want and need to feel whole. This is the beginning of getting unstuck, and according to the latest research in interpersonal neurobiology, the start of re-wiring your brain from old the automatic and unconscious patterns.
Authenticity, Emotions, and the Body
Paying attention to what is happening in our bodies and using this information to connect with our emotions is critical for living an authentic and healthy life. Emotions inform us about our true needs, as well as provide meaning in our ongoing lived moments. Learning to be mindful and trusting of our deeper feelings helps us connect to the truth of things. It's how we develop self-acceptance, self-healing, and strengthen our ability to connect with others. Emotions tell us when we feel safe and secure, or not, and whether we feel received, loved, accepted or rejected. When we pay attention to our emotions and our behavior, we can learn to notice what habits of responding to others we developed at a time in our lives when we did not feel safe, secure, and accepted.
Concurrently, we get loads of information from others from the energy in their emotions whether it be unconscious or intentional.
When Things Go Wrong
Tragedies, loss, social and cultural forces, and many other changes during our lives can cause us pain, However, trauma and neglect in our family of origin can disrupt our development of inner peace and emotional balance, the ability to feel safety and security, our sense of acceptance of self and others, and the ability to maintain close and satisfying relationships. Abuse, neglect, or simply growing up with a parent who may not have been able to meet a child's emotional needs can cause emotional woundedness in that child. As a result, children develop views of relationships based on insecurity and fear and rigid or chaotic ways of responding to others in close relationships. They may feel unable to give or get the love we want in significant relationships and develop habits of responding to others with automatic and unconscious reactions. A child may develop a pattern of shutting down emotionally, avoiding intimacy, and feeling depressed or patterns of feeling anxious, emotionally out of control, and insecure. Some children become preoccupied with maintaining relationships out of fear of being abandoned and alone. Whether it is to avoid some form of discomfort, to protect or defend ourselves from some kind of threatening thought or feeling such as the indifference, disapproval, or rejection from a primary caregiver, we become "stuck" into coping strategies that leave us with becoming someone we do not wish to be and not having what we really want.
We bring these defensive coping strategies into our current adult relationships and our relationships with our children. As a result, we may miss making authentic connections with others or lack the ability to create limits with those who are acting in ways that are unhealthy for us. We “act out” of our woundedness as we attempt to insulate ourselves from sadness, loss, fear, and compensations for our feelings of self-aversion, self-defectiveness and shame. Rather than being honest and open with our feelings, even to ourselves, we withdraw from others or we enact constricting ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving to avoid facing painful truths about ourselves and others. We put ourselves in a box of our own spin, resisting our very own emotions which inform us of the truth in our experiences. Or, we may act out in easily triggered anger because we have had a long history of feeling deep inside that things are not OK, a perpetual and unacknowledged protest. In short, our coping strategies become problems in and of themselves
Therapy Can Help
With therapy, it is possible to become aware of these unconscious, reactive patterns. Turning toward challenging experiences and holding these experiences in our awareness with compassion and kindness allows our unwanted feelings of hurt, sadness, grief and loss, anger, fears, and feelings of worthlessness and shame to be re-experienced within a new context, one of acceptance, integration, and healing. Learning to pause, and to face the anxiety that comes up for us when dealing with difficult truths, accepting and communicating our core emotions, and making wholehearted decisions is how we create a life of balance, health, vulnerability, and liberation…an authentic life.
It is my mission to provide a safe and accepting therapeutic environment to accompany and assist you in facing the uncomfortable edges in your life. Drawing on mindfulness, emotionally-focused therapy, attachment-focused therapy, and an understanding of interpersonal neurobiology (how relationships shape and also rewire our brains), I provide integrative counseling for individuals facing life’s challenges, psychotherapy for individuals with mental and emotional disorders, and relational therapy for distressed couples and families who are living chaotic or distant lives and are longing for meaningful connection. I am committed to working collaboratively with you to define your goals for therapy and to develop creative ways of reaching those goals. It would be an honor and a privilege to accompany you on your journey of healing, self-discovery, and to help you create more satisfying relationships.