Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com
I don’t know how it is for you, but I’m not really the same person I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even a year ago. Sure, I still like to read and my hair style is pretty much the same, but I’m also constantly changing and becoming more of myself with each challenge I meet in life. At the same time, I slowly but surely learn to step out into the light as this authentic person. It is both exciting and frightening, because in showing myself I have to let go of the perception of others, and that is not an easy thing to do.
I find myself worrying that others won’t trust me, won’t take my word as truth even if it is the truest way for me to express myself. They may have heard stories about me that contradict these words. Or they may have past experiences with me in which I showed up very differently from who I am today. Perhaps it’s nothing more than the shoes I wear or the accent with which I speak that will put an image in people’s minds about who I am. An image that is, of course, their image and not a universal reality.
I realise that our reputation is a fragile thing that we have little control over, aside from the actions we take and the words we use. And it doesn’t reflect just on who you are, it reflects back on those who hold this image of you. A wise man once told me that what we recognize in others is what we also see, consciously or subconsciously, in ourselves. He asked me how I felt about the people in the group I was a participant of. “I see such beautiful souls,” I answered, “At the same time fragile and yet with a strength they don’t yet realise they have.”
“What you see in them is what you also perceive in yourself” he said.
We see our own beauty reflected in others, and we see our own flaws mirrored in them as well. Why does tardiness bother some people more than others? Why do I look more at the state of your shoes than my partner does? Perhaps because of my self-judgement about the condition of my own footwear.
So what others feel about me, or think about me, is something I have little control over. I can’t choose what they will or will not believe about me. If I want them to see who I really am, the only thing I can do is show myself as I am, without making excuses for my mistakes or playing down my qualities. For this reason, the business that my partner and I recently started is called Show Yourself.
I can choose, in each moment, to show up authentically. I am grateful for those who see that authenticity, and empathetic to those who may have something standing in the way. I realise that I myself may also have trouble seeing the truth in some situations where I have obstacles standing in the way. Removing those obstacles is a gift to myself and to those around me.
Part of being human is recognizing which part of yourself you see in the other person, and embracing it fully, both in yourself and in them. In that way, loving the other is naturally also loving yourself.