Well, hey there. Great to see you. This week's episode explores how vocal liberation can support you to create deeper authenticity and healthier boundaries.
Watch the episode or read the transcript below:
Thank you for joining me here in my studio. So, today I'm going to be talking about authenticity and boundaries, oh what a subject! Oh, I have so much to learn, but there's so much to be said about it, and I'm going to share what I have today. I’m just gonna say from the outset that authenticity and boundaries, are complex subjects. And our culture has a whole lot of conditioning to offer on being agreeable and saying that we are fine no matter how we're feeling. And domesticating the powerful NO right out of us until we say YES all the time even when we don’t mean it.
And so being authentic is a work in progress for all of us, and developing boundaries is not easy. And I'm going to say that I am no master of the subject, but I'm going to share what I have for you today.
Let's do this. But before I go any further, I'd like to just say STOP. I'm not gonna say there's a boundary but here's a strong request from me. PLease don’t just passively consume this content. I'm not just here to be consumed by you, I want more out of this – and so I'd like you to also say hi. And I’d like to make this a little bit more of an exchange – an interactive thing.
Of course I'm not sure there's anything I can do about this but I'm just making a statement about that right now, expressing my needs. So I'd really like you to take part in this and meet my needs to let me know that you watched it, how it landed for you, you know, that would be great. I just don't want to see like 57 views and one comment. Yeah.
Okay, cool. So authenticity and boundaries. So I work with many kinds of voices, and I find a continuum that ranges from people whose voices are “too much”, i.e. they often say things they regret and maybe blast people with their “vocal power” or intense presence. They are often very impulsive with their voice and will frequently say things that they long to retract and feel ashamed of afterwards.
On the other side of the spectrum are people who are very controlled and their voice is “too little” most of the time and they never really say how they feel. They struggle to express boundaries, and struggle to express in groups of people, and this can lead to all sorts of problems of their own. Many of us have got a “hybrid voice” where we do both of these – sometimes we shame ourselves by shouting or saying too much, at other times we say nothing.
So, yeah, let's take a deep breath. Ah, hashtag so blessed.
Okay, the poet EE Cummings said: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”. And so I think this thing about authenticity is really interesting – it's about becoming who we are, in spite of the herd instinct to fit in and be unchallenging to everyone around you.
And so what is authenticity? A definition of authenticity is “being who you are in the depth of your being, with other human beings, where you feel free to say how you feel and how you are without shame and without reserve, but with some kindness and a whole lot of truth thrown in”.
Here's a quote about authenticity: “Authenticity is about presence, living in the moment with conviction and confidence, staying true to yourself. An authentic person puts the people around them at ease like a comforting, old friend who welcomes us and makes us feel home.”
I think it can refer to a grounded person or a person who self-regulates their nervous system, and a person who is real and true to themselves.
So here are some useful traits of authenticity.
One of them is to be SELF ATTUNED – to know what's going on inside, what you're feeling in the moment. We so often bypass that, and roll with “so how are you” “I'm fine, so blessed” “It's so wonderful to see you”.
But what's going on downstairs is also “I feel really anxious” or “I'm really angry at the moment, but I’m trying so hard to shove that feeling down”.
So, authenticity invites us to become really self-attuned, and own up to what we feel.
Another huge one I think, is being willing to share our vulnerability. In other words letting go of perfectionism and the need to be perfect and composed all the time, and being willing to allow other people to see our vulnerability, because we all are vulnerable. But we're terribly scared of sharing our real selves for fear of rejection.
And here’s a beautiful quote from Brene Brown: “to be authentic we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect and vulnerable. We have to accept that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I've learned that there's no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity”.
Wow - That's a big promise, I repeat “there's no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity”. That's a huge claim.
So this means being willing to be vulnerable and embrace our own shadow and our faults and our human-ness, not being afraid of falling apart or crying and being messy with other people and noticing, and meeting our fear of rejection as it arises.
And so we fruitlessly try to portray ourselves as perfect, which requires a lot of energy and doesn't really work, and we try to hide how utterly messily human we are (even from ourselves).
So I think yes, some of this requires bravery, because it's much easier to live and stay on the surface. And it requires some bravery to open up and really be ourselves. And I want to say one of the things that keeps us from being authentic is shame, and the fear of exposing ourselves and being rejected as we really are.
I have a great quote here from Oprah: “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I became. If I had, I would have done it a lot earlier”.
Next up boundaries. Wow, also a total work in progress for me. There have been times in my life where it's felt like wherever my boundaries were supposed to be I had loose wet spaghetti hanging there just. Hey, you, sure, just walk through this curtain of limp spaghetti please – yes, those are my boundaries.
So what are boundaries? Brene, bless her, she has a very simple definition which is: “our boundaries are simply a list of what's okay and what's not okay”. I mean, that's awesome. So what might that list consist of for you? For example “It's not okay for me to do free work”, or “it's not okay for me when we agree on something and then you don't do it – I don't like being let down”, or “I don't like being treated badly and I like to be spoken to with respect”. Thus my boundary is my list of what's okay and not okay.
This is some great journaling homework - what are your boundaries?
And with some practice we can learn to speak our boundaries with courage, but to speak them with compassion – because everyone really is trying their best.
And one of the benefits is that over time as you practice boundaries, UP goes your courage, UP goes confidence, UP goes self-love and it can allow us to feel more safe with others, and therefore be loving and compassionate.
Without boundaries, our energy gets flattened by others, and we develop underlying resentment. And I think resentment is one of the great keys for telling that we're not expressing our boundaries. Feeling irritable or resentful are great signals that we're allowing or even creating situations where we have not expressed our boundaries. And what follows is that people are going over them, and they're gonna keep doing that until we express our boundaries or needs or expectations clearly.
And I know it's very frightening to do this because I find it very frightening and I'm pretty sure you do too. It can be very frightening and it brings up all of our social and relationship anxiety and fear of being rejected. But the weird thing is that it actually makes us safe. So the safety we're looking for requires us to stretch ourselves and speak and even say NO.
One of the guidelines around developing boundaries is to learn what yours are, and then rehearse them a lot! Walk around your kitchen saying “No, I'm sorry, No, I'm not available! Ah - No, I can't do that. I'm busy. Ah - No, I don’t really enjoy doing that!” And so on because we're really bad at it.
So, this is our homework, beautiful people. Practice being a boundaried badass - with heart.
And there's a great mantra that brilliant Brene Brown uses which is “I choose discomfort over resentment”. So good! “It's okay to say no, and I choose discomfort over being resentful for weeks or months afterwards”. And she even talks about TRACKING RESENTMENT, keeping a journal noticing who and/or what we are resentful about and why, and then working on those boundaries and practicing expressing them clearly and kindly.
Gabor Maté mentions this one study that was done in the USA where 1700 women who were in unhappy marriages were studied over time – and one of the findings was that those that expressed healthy emotions, including healthy anger were 400% less likely to get a dread or autoimmune disease than those who did not express their emotions.
It became clear that expressing your emotions, including healthy anger, could be seen as a life and death issue.
So let's do this together. Where are you feeling resentment today? Where could you improve your boundaries?
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