Confrontation and ‘selfullness’: The keys to finding your authentic self
Words by Laticia Gibson as published in My Entrepreneur Magazine, May 11 2015
“It’s 8pm and I am taking a long bath. It’s been a rough few months. A bad break up and the pressures of starting a new business venture have tired me. The warm liquid is like a blanket – a blissful retreat from what’s waiting for me beyond the tiled walls.
I submerge my head and move my head side to side under the water, letting my long hair flow around me, back and forth, back and forth, slowly and delicately. I feel light under here. I don’t want to come up.
As I look into the steamed up mirror, I see a pale face transformed as I smear green goo over it. I don’t recognise the reflection – before or after the facemask, which is meant to replenish and nourish.
The voices in my head are on repeat. ‘What if this doesn’t work? What if I am making a mistake?”
This excerpt is from my very first book that I have started writing just recently. The scene no doubt echoes familiarity for many of you as it represents overwhelm, despair, fear and the unknown.
The questions are ones we have all asked ourselves. Questions that fit so many areas of our life – work, love, children, the list goes on.
The story in my book continues with a scene shortly that is tragic. It’s tragic because I repeat a mistake that evening – I let someone rob me.
I don’t mean I was held up at gunpoint and I willingly handed over my money. I meant that someone took something that didn’t belong to them and I let them.
‘What has this got to do with business?’ I hear you ask? Bear with me….
We all know the saying that money is power. But it’s not. You are power. And when you let someone take your vital essence that is ‘a little part of you’, you are giving away your power. When you have various sources draining you (staff, children, partners, clients) you will find you don’t have a great deal left to be your powerful, magnificent self.
So what happens then?
Not only do you run on empty and start making terrible mistakes, bad decisions and ultimately destroy relationships both professionally and personally – you destroy the most precious thing of all – yourself.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever had a moment where someone has asked or said something and you’ve bitten your tongue to keep the peace and not make waves? Have you gone along with what you think the other person needs or wants even though it went against what you felt was right for you? Of course you have! We all have. And in some instances, it’s the right thing to do. Continue to do it over and over again, you fail to be your authentic self.
So what is this ‘authentic self’ I keep talking about and why is it important to business?
Simone Dowding is just one of the remarkable women I’ve recently met through my latest business venture, Mind Body Business.
Simone holds a degree in psychology and has spent a year studying meditation and Buddhist philosophy in the Himalayas with the His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
She’s a 42-year-old mother of two and runs a hugely successful coffee business called The Blessed Bean. I originally asked ‘Sim’ to speak at my event as I was interested in hearing her philosophies of ‘paying it forward’ in business. A concept she has built her empire on.
Our first ‘business meeting’ was literally just two best gal pals catching up except – we’d never met! In fact, we had lived in the same regional town for 2 years and never crossed paths.
What captivated me about Simone was her raw honesty. Not only was she a successful businesswoman, she was beautiful, funny, caring and REAL.
Society has typecast men and women. It says that if you are a successful female entrepreneur then you must be bolshie, hard and somewhat masculine in how you do business.
Can I ask? Where the hell did this come from? Since when do we have to lose our feminine edge to play in a ‘mans world?’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist – men have it just as tough with ridiculous expectations and stereotypes putting all sorts of pressures on them, which is ultimately forcing them to be unauthentic.
When I asked my kindred spirit to take part in this interview, she jumped at the chance. When I sent Simone the questions though, she realised that I wasn’t going to go easy on her.
The subject of ‘authenticity’ is a big one and not one that can be covered in just one article.
We will instead begin with a few basic starting points and this question ‘are you living a life that is true to who you are?
Not a small question however Simone believes that, “Finding the truth about who you are is to find your authentic self. This is within reach of us all but the truth is not found ‘out there’ instead to find your truth, you need to look within.”
The poet Rumi said, ‘You wander from room to room, hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck.’ Sound familiar?
So how do we become so disconnected from our inner truth and our inner voice?
“Unfortunately, when we disconnect from ourselves, we lose our connection with life’s meaning and purpose. We then may desperately try to fill our cups with more money, sex, power or fame. The problem is that these traditional indicators and goals of success often only succeed in making us more unfulfilled and even more isolated,” Simone said.
“The challenge is to stop believing what the existing world tells us we are, to withdraw our focus from the external to the internal. These traditional and cultural norms convince us that safety and success come from defining ourselves through the eyes and beliefs of others,” Simone states.
“Authentic self is the ability to redefine yourself, it’s not based on anything external, rather on an genuine call from within.”
Oh, sounds so simple, right. WRONG!
This road isn’t easy however it affects you in more ways than you realise, particularly with business.
“In redefining our notions of success, building and looking after our financial empire is not enough. We need to do everything we can to support and take care of our employees, this is just one example,” she said.
“There is growing evidence that the long term health of a company’s bottom line and the health of its employees are in fact very much in line,” Simone explained.
“ Scientific studies and health statistics are showing that what we’ve been valuing is not working. How the world measures success is in fact making us sick, despondent and lost, leading many to re-evaluate their lives and working arrangements. Being authentic means challenging some of these engrained cultural beliefs in order to redefine success. We can choose to live our lives differently and enjoy wellbeing, health and a thriving career,” said Simone.
“Choice? I don’t have a choice. I have a family I have to support. I have responsibilities and others I must put first! It’s fine for those who don’t have these but I just can’t do it….”
I’m sorry. I didn’t realise I was writing to a bunch of martyrs. You’re right. You go and let life happen to you and blame the rest of the world for you not feeling satisfied because ‘you had no choice.’
I’ll call your b.s and raise you some reality.
You DO have a choice!
Everyone has responsibilities, everyone has skeletons and everyone has fear. The difference is some choose to run towards the life they want, not hide behind excuses.
“I believe that many of us have been living in a world of misguided truth,” Simone said.
“Our current notion of success in which we drive ourselves into the ground, working long hours at the expense of our health and families has left us exhausted and burnout. What is even sadder is that this way of life is almost encouraged and respected in male dominated culture. Sleep deprivation, addictions, stress are all personal costs that are unsustainable,” she explained.
Ask yourself these questions. Do you feel like you’re meant to be doing what you’ve chosen to do in life? Do you truly feel fulfilled or are you simply existing?
If you answer ‘no’ to these then it’s time to find your authentic self!
Simone believes that this self-insight is important because it begins to make us question what’s important to us. Normally it takes a crisis or illness for us to realise that what we are valuing isn’t making us happy. This realisation brings about a personal value alignment and is the start of the journey towards finding your authentic self.
She said, “In order to choose a path in life based on your truth, it is important to understand your story, your significance and embrace your uniqueness. Finding the truth about who we are is to find our authentic self. Only you can truly define who you are and what you choose to do with your life.”
So guess what? Follow your authentic path and you will find business success! Why? Because you are living your truth and the more integrity you have in your life, the more abundance and happiness you will attract.
“Mindfulness is a powerful tool for this and helps us become aware of our own strengths and weaknesses,” Simone said.
“We also become healthier and happier through mindfulness and meditation. Bringing the mind back to the present moment helps us relax, recharge and realign with what’s important. Reconnecting to yourself is essentially finding your authentic self – which is truly what we are all searching for. Being comfortable in our own presence is the key. After all, our whole experience comes from our very own minds so its crucial to nurture ourselves.”
Simone believes that by turning within we are able to rejuvenate our energy, hear our inner voice and most importantly shift identification from worldly views of success to our inner truth.
With this comes more energy, vitality, creativity, wisdom and personal power.
“Confronting ourselves though can be challenging and it’s crucial to maintain a consistent, disciplined practice,” said Simone.
She says that simple practices like meditation can help us to not revert back in to old patterns of unconscious reactions to circumstances. It also creates a balance in which we have space to enjoy ourselves, others and work.
“Making time to nurture our silence gives us freedom from constant internal chatter and the stress it brings. Your journey has a purpose and it’s up to you to honour it, own it and follow it,’ she said.
“Don’t look upon your life at 80 years and wish for more. There’s no greater tragedy than living a life not worth living. Understanding your belief systems is the pathway to transformation. I believe connection and service to others is the key to my happiness. Self-awareness gives us the power to change limiting beliefs and set us free!”
So in other words, stop the excuses. Acknowledge the voices in your head but then ask them to quietly go away because you’re now on a path of finding your authentic self and activating your potential.
And this is just the beginning of your journey….
ABOUT SIMONE DOWDING:
Simone’s journey to establishing The Blessed Bean cafes, coffee consultancy & wholesale/retail bean roasting trade began with an absolute passion for coffee, an understanding of the place it holds in people’s lives and a vision for how she could make a difference.
The Blessed Bean holds numerous wholesale accounts nationwide and is building into roasting several tonnes per week
She has directed two short films and is passionate about drawing attention to important community issues.
Simone’s philosophy in life and business is to connect, inspire and make a difference. This permeates through everything The Blessed Bean does from customer service to marketing strategies and is the cornerstone of its success.
Leaving the world of journalism was an easy decision for Laticia. Realising that the volatility and ego of a newsroom just wasn’t for her, she knew she wanted to continue with her passion of telling stories.
Unearthing, chasing and creating – it’s what she does best.
Beyond creative storytelling, her passion also extends to sharing knowledge of health and how this can be instrumental in creating a healthy business.
Hence, her project, Mind Body Business was born in 2014. This event is one of the most challenging and rewarding projects she has ever worked on.