I was driving the other day and heard this song on the radio by Sidewalk Prophets, “Come to the Table.” When I hear that phrase, I immediately think, “Come as you are.” Then it was immediately followed by, “How often do we truly, authentically, come to the table and come as we are?” We often feel like we must put on that smile, hold back that thought, say we’re okay when really, we’re suffering inside. Not that we have too, or should bare our souls to everyone, but it made me think, “Do I hold back so much that its actually hurting me?” Does it keep me from reaching my goals or missing opportunities? Causing me anxiety, depression?
Later that week, I was listening to a training by Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, among others. In her topic of empathy and self-compassion, she also used the term, “Come to the table” when talking about vulnerability, taking risks, and being authentic. Got my thoughts running again.
Then lo and behold, I went to church that Sunday and of course the pastor was again talking about authenticity. Okay, God I get the message!
When you think of “coming to the table,” what comes to mind? For me it’s home, family, food. I’m also thinking: taking a break, a deep sigh, relaxing. The moment I get home, I don’t waste anytime taking off those heels, jewelry, make-up, and changing into comfy sweats and socks. No need to make an appearance at home, right?
At home, at least for many of us, it’s the place where we can take off the mask and be more of our authentic selves. Some of us were very lucky to have been accepted unconditionally by those around us. As a result, we can easily accept ourselves. Quirks, mistakes, mishaps and all.
Some of us, however, were not provided the same acceptance. Leaving us in a place of self-doubt, fear of rejection, and developed a mask, wall, guard to keep hurt away. Our authentic self isn’t acceptable. Or even worse, “not enough.” We create an ideal self for others to see and believe. And we get pretty good at it. Overtime, we don’t even know or remember what our authentic self is anymore. Our focus is constantly on what others think instead of how we feel, what we need, or what we want. “If I’m not enough, then I don’t deserve.” It becomes exhausting.
Let me just say, if you are breathing, then you DO deserve. You ARE enough and it’s time to stop pleasing others and just be who you truly are. You are there inside and it’s time to pause and listen.
To find our authentic self, we need the following ingredients:
- Listening with an openness of mind, body, and heart
- Listening without judgment
- Space of empathy and self-compassion
- Space of acceptance: the good, the bad, and the ugly
Look at this recipe above. Isn’t this what you crave from others? What’s important to remember is that this does not have to start with a support person. It helps, yes, but it can start with you.
Pause, listen, and be with you.
Try this simple exercise:
Place your hand on your heart and ask what is here? What is this? Do you notice a tightness, tension, an emotion? Once you identify it, just let it be there and sit with it, as if consoling a child only its your physical sensation or emotion you are consoling. Accept it just as it is, no matter what it is. If you notice resistance, then just be with that. There is no need to force it to be different or push it away. To do so would be to reject yourself. Take one minute of silence to just listen by feeling, acknowledge, and allow it space. This is the gateway to your authentic self.
If you begin providing love, compassion, and acceptance for yourself, the easier it will be to expect it from others; maybe learning to let go of those who are not willing, and therefore, not healthy for you.
It’s time to truly come to the table and be as you are.
You are enough.
If you would like to learn more tools and/or need to work through past experiences that you feel keeps you stuck from implementing these tools, please contact me for a free 20-minute consultation to discuss other therapeutic techniques that may be helpful.
Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly. New York: Penguin Random House, 2015. Previously published as a Gotham Books Hardcover, 2012.
Brach, Tara. Article adapted from True Refuge (2013). Retrieved from https://www.tarabrach.com.
Dave Frey, Ben Glover, Ben McDonald. (2014). Come to the Table [Recorded by Sidewalk Prophets]. On Something Different. Nashville, TN: Fervent Records; Waco, TX: Word Records.