Life Coaching: Reclaiming Your Authentic Voice
I keep observing how so many of us in this world have lost our true voice, or
never really had it to begin with. How, then, can we reclaim it?
Our Western culture teaches that the personal self is the center of our
universe, the place where all of our competing, conditioned voices live. In
this model, the rational mind of the personal self reigns supreme. The first
step toward reclaiming our authenticity, however, is to embrace a more
expansive model of who we think we are and of how we view the world.
In truth, the whole of who we are is more than sum total of our personal
self, our “persona” and our “shadow.” It is necessary to deconstruct the old
hierarchy that places our ego above our core self, our heart and our body.
Once we realize that all parts of us deserve to be listened to, we can begin to
refocus our intentions and our attention upon reclaiming our authentic voice.
Our ability to impartially observe any part of us has been called
our “witnessing presence.” This refers to a place within us that stands
apart from our conditioned beliefs and self-judgments. It allows us to
differentiate between, harmonize, and ultimately transcend them. To develop
our “witnessing presence” just as we would any other muscle is the key to
emerging from our obstructions into an authentic way of living. From this
perspective, we enter a space in consciousness that is separate from our
identifications with the personal self’ s thoughts and feelings, but which
also respects them. This allows us to experience these beliefs fully without
becoming lost in them. From here, the authentic adult in us surfaces, the
person who can successfully integrate all of his or her conditioned voices
and selves, as well as open to fresh inspirations.
Imagine that you have been in business for fifteen years and you’ ve just
been downsized. Your savings are minimal and your expenses have not
changed: the monthly bills keep piling up in the mailbox, and no new
business is coming in. A common response to such a situation would be to
automatically respond with negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings rooted in
fear: “I will never be able to recover financially. What am I going to live on?
I will never be able to support myself and my family.” Harsh self-judgments
and blame typically accompany these beliefs: “This is my fault! I must have
done something wrong!” It is crucial to realize that these beliefs, whether
coming from the “persona” or “the shadow,” are just that: beliefs. Rather
than representing the entire truth about us, our beliefs account for only one
way of responding to a difficult situation. In reality, our deepest wisdom
does not speak to us judgmentally. When situations challenge us, it is the
authentic adult in us, supported by the “witnessing presence,” that keeps
reminding ourselves that our negative thoughts and feelings are not based in
actual reality, but in our default, conditioned beliefs.
Here’ s an exercise for you, which will help you reclaim your “ witnessing
presence,” the key to unlocking your authentic voice:
The following exercise is designed to launch you on your journey
toward reclaiming your authentic voice by helping you to develop a
strong “witnessing presence”:
1. Think of a situation that is currently a source of stress and conflict in your
life. For example, this situation could involve a frustrated desire to move
forward professionally or personally. It could also involve difficulties in
your family or in your romantic life.
2. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. In your left
column, make a list of concrete facts describing this situation. In your right
column, list your feelings and beliefs about this situation.
3. Often, we are so entrenched in our feelings that we mistake them for facts.
Carefully examine each item on each list and ask yourself, to the best of
your ability, whether the “facts” are actually objectively true, or if they are
your subjective emotions or beliefs. Facts, for example, don’ t tell us “The
sky is falling!”— only feelings do!
4. Based on your findings, reconfigure the two lists so that you have a more
accurate reflection of what information is purely factual and what is based in
your own personal and subjective reactions.
5. Without judging, look at the column on the right, where you have listed
your feelings. Do they seem disproportionate to the facts? If so, try to
listen to them with the knowledge that these are your subjective beliefs and
feelings, not objective facts that define the situation or who you are.
6. Give yourself the space to inhabit and express these feelings on the page.
You are now beginning to witness your feelings without becoming entirely
identified with them.
7. Return to the “facts” of the situation with this new perspective. Having
developed our “witnessing presence,” and having realized that our subjective
responses to a situation are not a direct reflection of reality, we are in fact
developing our authentic voice, a tool of extraordinary power. The feelings
and beliefs rooted in our “persona” and our “shadow” suddenly become less
daunting. Their power over us is diminished profoundly because we see
them in their proper light. This offers the adult in us the ability to address
challenging situations from a more knowing, creative, and proactive place.
Dr. Lynda Klau