I often receive some of my deepest insights in my sessions with clients. A few days back, I received a big one!

As I looked at my client, her eyes intense and strong, I could see how, at times, she felt emotionally vulnerable in the world. I looked straight at her and asked, “Why are you giving your power away so easily?” I continued, “I only have a handful of people who know me deeply. These are the select individuals from whom I welcome influence on my self-concept.” In that moment, I could see the realization come alive in her eyes.

In my younger years I grew some very thick skin (or so I thought) to shield me from harsh criticism. I have softened my skin over time. I have learned how to see past other peoples’ actions to the very core of them. But when it comes to my own tender core, I still protect it like a white tigress watching her cub.

I love myself deeply, so I vet the people in whom I trust to help me tenderly develop my view of my authentic self. There are particular characteristics I must see that they possess before bowing my head and letting them in. It is an important process.

See, my life gets messy…really messy, as a side effect of diving deeply and fully into my life. I love hard and risk big. That means I can also get pretty emotionally banged up, and lose my shit from time to time. And boy oh boy, it’s important to have a trusted clean-up crew to help me stand back up. Of course, it’s not my friends’ job to save me, but a little positive reflection doesn’t hurt 😉

Here’s what I look for in those who I am the most vulnerable with

  1. They are looking for the best in me.
  2. Their intention is to bring out the best in me.
  3. They will stand with me through my challenges.

I must trust that they know me well enough that when I’m feeling particularly raw and I share my deepest insecurities, they will not start to believe my insecurities, but instead keep seeing me in a positive way. This means that if I’m triggered by an old wound, I can trust that they love me enough to help me out of my fear and not simply start to believe my fears.

For instance, when I was younger I was often told I was selfish. So if I’m in a situation where I fear I may be acting selfishly, I can share my fear without worrying that my trusted support system will also start to believe I’m selfish.

I don’t hold back my vulnerability in the world; I show up as my fully-expressed authentic self. What I have changed, however, is the value I place on people’s feedback. I don’t take caution around others’ opinions because I’m afraid of people hurting me, or because I don’t want to hear about my growing edges; I take caution because I know that we are all influenced by our past, and so we do not see each other clearly. We see each other through our own lenses, our own funhouse mirrors. Before I let someone’s opinion influence mine, I want to know what type of lens they are looking through.

How do you choose whose opinions you let influence your understanding of your authentic self?