Episode # 9 Authentically You

February 11, 2020

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 You are listening to My Freedom Grove podcast with Gretchen Hernandez, episode 9.

Welcome to My Freedom Grove podcast. This is where strong people, just like you come to have honest, open discussions about anxiety, depression, and frustration, but we don't stop there. We go deeper by learning and applying mindset management tools to once and for all break free from the pain. So we can actually enjoy our lives. I'm your host, Gretchen Hernandez. I'm so glad you joined us.

Hi my strong friends! How's your week been? I'm curious. How much time do you leave in your schedule to just be available to meet people? This could be new people or people that you already have relationships with, but do you leave time to be available to be with them? Or do you just keep your head down and just keep working and working and working? The thing that I love about this new life that I've created for myself is that I'm leaving a lot of time to be available, to go out and meet people. Cause you just never know who you're going to meet and what pieces of the puzzle they may have for you. 


So as you know, I'm working on this puzzle of creating a men's wellness retreat at some point. So I'm always out there looking for people that might have some extra knowledge that I don't have. So one of the great things that I get to do is volunteer at my daughter's school. And over the past two weeks, I've been there five times. They had some science projects that they were doing and having the science background, they thought I would be a great person to be able to come and help. It was a lot of fun, but even better was that I got to spend a little bit more time with some of the teachers and the aids there and also meet a couple of the other parents that came in and volunteered.

There were two this week that had pieces to the puzzle. Actually, with one, I had a piece to her puzzle. So with one, she is an art therapy instructor, and this is one of those things that I wanted to include in the retreat. And I wasn't surprised at all when she told me that this is what she does, because I've been looking for someone that does this. So we're going to have some time, get together and learn about what each other's ideas are. I'm really excited about that. 




Hey, have you ever been around someone that is living their complete authentic self? That nothing is holding them back? Maybe they're expressing themselves with their words or with how they dress or their body mechanics. What does it feel like to be around those people and does it have an impact on you?


I've been around people that are doing this and let me tell you, it seems like they are just so full of life. They have so much confidence and they're just like shining this light from within. And it doesn't have to be any one type of person. I've seen people that are completely different, different walks of life, but they're being authentic and they still have that light shining from within that is just so pure that you're just drawn to them. It makes me wonder how did they get like that? Were they just born that way and everybody around them always supported them to be exactly who they were or did they have to go through a lot of work to finally allow themselves to be exactly who they always wanted to be?


In today's episode, I want to take a look at what would it take to be authentically you? We're going to go over five different things:

  1.  What kind of mask are we wearing?
    • that are projecting something else out to the world that isn't really us


2. What would be possible?

    • if we took off those masks and showed who we really were
    • we lived in the way that we really want to live

Why do we wear these masks in the first place?


4. How do we start to unravel our fears?

    • so that the fears don't even exist
    • masks fall off automatically


5, What happens once those masks are gone?

I hope by having this conversation today, that it gives you a little bit of hope on what it would be like and that it can be completely possible for you and that the world's probably going to be a much better place because you are being that authentic you. 


Before we start, I want to share when we were considering moving out here to the Mendocino coast, we observed someone working at the local grocery store and the way that she expressed herself and her appearance made my husband and I feel so comforted. It's like we felt that it was a completely welcoming environment that would completely support us however we wanted to show up in life.  


Leaving the corporate world was a bit refreshing because in the corporate world let's face it: There are some rules of decorum and sometimes you just can't be how you want to be, but a lot of times we impose that on ourselves and I'll have some examples of that.


Last week, I encountered that woman at the grocery store. She didn't realize by just living her authentic self what an impact that would have on a whole family. And as a result, an impact on this whole audience. I wasn't doing this podcast before I moved out here. And I know that the things that you're learning from this podcast are helping you in your lives and that might not have been possible if we had never moved out here. And this woman had an integral part in that. 


So I saw her last week and I had to tell her. I was at the grocery store and I saw her and I was like, "She has no idea, but she needs to know", and so I went up and I shared our story with her and I told her how grateful I was that she just showed up being her, exactly as she was that inspired us and has had this huge ripple effect in the world. Her eyes welled up with tears and we had a big, huge, long hug and it was just great. I want that to be something that we can all do, that if we all show up authentically, imagine the effect that we're going to have on this world. 


Let's jump into the very first one: 



1. What are some of the masks that you wear out in the world? 

You know, consider that you have different areas of your life. You have your work life, you have your home life. If you're a parent, you have who you are as a parent, you have who you are as a parent when you go to the schools where your children are at, if you're involved in the community at all. You have a way that you're showing up in whatever that role is that you're playing. 

  • Are you showing up exactly the same, no matter what setting that you go into or are they slightly different? 


  • How would you describe each of those personas that you embody when you step into those roles? 

I think back to when I was in college and I was in a sorority and there were times that we had events where we were expected to dress professionally. So here I was a 19 year old going out and buying business suits and with like the little pleated skirts and the jackets and wearing the high heels and wearing pearls. And I thought, "Yes, this is who I'm supposed to be." My body mechanics would be completely different. 


The way that I would talk with other people would be very crisp and clean and the impact that that had on me was that I was spending all of my energy, paying attention to how I was showing up. I was paying attention to my words and my body language and that I wasn't actually able to be there and be present for the other people to actually enjoy their company. I wasn't actually able to really fully enjoy the event because I was so worried about what I was looking like. 


Back then, it was really popular to get a tattoo of your fraternity or sororities letters on your ankle and I remember having a desire to do that, but also a fear. And the fear was if I was going to go on to be a professional, I was going to have to be wearing nylons and high heels, and that people would see this tattoo and that they would judge me and that I wouldn't come off as being credible or professional if I had this tattoo.

So that's what prevented me from getting it. And to this day, I still don't have any tattoos, although there's times that I've thought about it, but I do give myself a bit of a waiting period to see if it's something that I really want. And so far, what I've found is after I go through the waiting period, it turns out I'm actually pretty happy. I didn't get it. It's not that I don't like tattoos. It's just for me, my idea on the designs change or the placement would change. So maybe someday I'll have a tattoo. 


I had this image in my mind of how I would have to dress if I was to go and be a professional business woman. And reality was is I hated dressing that way. The shoes always hurt my feet and the clothes weren't comfortable. So I made a decision a long time ago that wherever I worked, I was going to have to be allowed to wear jeans.


 And there's not a whole lot of places out there, at least back in the 90s. There weren't a whole lot of places where jeans was the normal. But what I found was that in the biotech industry, especially in the Bay area, that actually was kind of the norm, is that they wanted you to be more comfortable because they realized that they could get more out of you, creativity wise, if you weren't worried about being all stuffy and wearing like three piece suits and stuff.


 And that brings up the next point.



2. What would be possible if you could be authentic, if you could live your authentic self?

So this is again how you express yourself in the things that you say, your body mechanics, the clothes that you decide to wear, the life that you choose to live. In the biotech industry, they were looking for creativity and innovation. That was something that became possible when people weren't having to worry about the constraints of trying to fit into a box. 

  • So what would be possible for you personally? 

I know I've talked about inspiring others, and I think that that is a glorious side effect to being your authentic self. But what I want to focus on is you. 

  • What are the impacts to you when you are wearing that mask?

I know for me, it would cause so much self doubt. Some self-loathing at times. Anxiety would happen a lot. There were times that I had an event that I was supposed to go to where I was trying to figure out the right thing to wear. And then I try out all of these different things and I couldn't find the right thing to wear, so I just wouldn't go. And I missed out on so much because if I could just show up there feeling comfortable in my own skin wearing whatever it is I wanted to wear, then I could show up and enjoy the event and enjoy the people all around me.


There are so many different possibilities that happen just from showing up. I'm starting to experience that more and more now is that I'm just showing up dressed however I want to, to get to know people. And then as we're engaging in conversations, they're sharing new opportunities that I didn't realize that we might have something in common that I might not have otherwise shared with them because I was so worried about my appearance. 


With these new opportunities are pretty exciting. In fact, there's so many opportunities coming my way now that it's, it's like opportunity overload, but none of that would have been possible by me staying at home, hiding myself, because I was worried about what clothes I had on, or that I kept myself from talking because I was worried about how I might ramble on or go off topic or that maybe I would not come off eloquently.


So much of that was just my own perceptions of what I thought was wrong with me, that I never considered, that maybe those things about me were completely right. And so now by going out and expressing myself how I am, it's turning out that it actually is a lot of right for a lot of people. And it's a pretty amazing feeling. 


A lot of those negative feelings that I was having with the self doubt or the self-loathing are just gone because not only did I start to make those thoughts go away, but when I was going out, I was reinforcing the thoughts that how I am showing up authentically is correct. And all of the evidence is out there to support it.

  • So what would it be like for you if you were completely authentic with yourself?
  • Is there something about you that you have been trying to hide because you thought that there was something wrong with it that might be completely the right thing for whatever it is in your life? 

Let's talk about :


3. Why are we using these masks?

So I mentioned that we might think that there's something wrong with us. And is it really that we think that there's something wrong with us or is it that we worry that somebody else is going to think something is wrong with us?


I think that's probably going to hit home with a lot of people is that we know that there's a lot of judgment out in the world. And there are some people that are louder with their judgment than others. And then a lot of people that are silent with their judgment, which really, if they're silent, do we know for sure that they're judging us? So let's take a look at that one first:

  • If they're silently judging us, how do we know that that is really happening?

We know that we have our own mindset, right? And we're thinking these different things. There's also this thing called "projection" is that we might be taking things that we're thinking and we're projecting it onto other people saying that they are thinking those same things. Now here's a funny story where I was doing something similar and someone shared their thought and it was just hilarious. And it helped to break me out of this a little bit. 


So I was interviewing for a job quite a while ago, and there were two openings. So it was going to be two people doing the same job. And I was standing right next to a gentleman who was also interviewing for the job. And I remember trying to feel what his vibe would be and see how he handled himself to think:

Do I feel like we could be able to work together?

Like, would this be a good fit? So it wasn't just, “Was I a good fit for the company”, but, “Was this a good fit between me and the other guy?” And I kept thinking that he was thinking the same exact thing. Later on, it turned out, we both did get hired. And I told him this story and he says, “You know what I was thinking at that moment?” And I said, “Okay, what?” And here, I'm thinking, “Okay, here comes all of the judgment. All of that.” He goes, “I was thinking I really like vanilla ice cream.”


I just, I laughed so hard for so long because when we're projecting our thoughts onto someone else, we believe it's so strong that they're thinking the exact things that we are, and reality is they're probably not. And I find that when I do this mindset coaching with people, that when we touch on a thought that is equally true, or even more true than what we were originally thinking, that there's always laughter involved because it was right there. This other thought was always there the whole time:

Why didn't we think about that?

And so here I was projecting on him my thoughts when in reality, he was thinking something that had absolutely nothing to do with me and I found that hilarious. Of course, he was thinking whatever he wanted to think. It wasn't always what I was thinking. So if you're going out there wearing some type of a mask, because you're worried that other people are thinking about you and judging you, consider that they might be having thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with you. They might even have an expression on their face because they're thinking about what they ate yesterday for dinner.


Another thing to consider is that, you know how you're thinking so much about your own appearance or your speech or whatever that the other person is also obsessively thinking about how they look, how they're showing up in the world and that in their thoughts, they may be projecting their thoughts about them on you.


So here you are both worried about yourselves and not even paying attention to the other person. You have no time to even judge the other person because you're too busy judging yourself. And same thing for them. They're spending all their time judging themselves, that they have no time to judge you.


 It's kind of a funny mind bendy thing when you think about that, but just because you're thinking something doesn't mean that's reality for how everybody else in the world is thinking. So if you were to show up without your mask, you don't necessarily have to worry about anyone judging you because they're spending all their time thinking about other stuff, not judging you. 



4. How would you start to tackle all of your fears about letting go of the masks that you do wear?

I mean, the first step of course was figuring out what masks are you wearing. 


Ask yourself for each of those different types of masks:

  • What is it that you're worried about?


So we covered a couple of those already, right? Is worrying about other people's judgment. Maybe it's worrying about fitting in, but what are all of those feelings? 


Let's talk about the fear of losing somebody's love. 


  • How many times have you worn some type of a mask showing up in a different way or doing activities that you normally wouldn't or not doing activities that you really want to do because you're worried that somebody else won't love you anymore if you do that?


I've had this one plague me my whole life. Although, I was never aware of it until I started doing mindset work. My big thing was always wanting people to love me. And so I'd always make sure that I was getting their needs met. And so building up their self confidence or doing extra projects for them or extra tasks or rescuing them from consequences of their own actions, because I wanted them to always love me.


And on the flip side of that, I would never voice what my needs were, because if I voiced what my needs were, that would take the focus off of meeting their needs. I don't know if that makes sense, but if you only have so much time in the day, do you meet person A's needs or person B's needs? And I was worried that them being person A that if I was to take any of my effort towards meeting my needs, if I'm person B, that they wouldn't love me anymore, because all of a sudden there was no time to get their needs met. 


So I took on this mask of people pleaser. And let me tell you that mask served me well, as far as getting a ton of love in my life. But on the other hand, it also led to a lot of my depression. I wasn't getting any of my needs and I was getting exhausted. Exhausted, always running and chasing after everybody else's needs and trying to help them with everything. But once I started doing mindset work and started realizing that I didn't necessarily need to chase after love for love to happen, it started to change things quite a bit. 


And I'd like to say that I have that mask completely gone, but instead I call myself a recovering people pleaser. I think it's going to take a little bit more to keep shaving off layers of that mask. The love in my relationships and that's personal relationships or relationships at work, whatever all of those are getting so much better because I am starting to take off that mask as a people pleaser. 


One of the biggest things I learned is that although a mask might give you some temporary benefit that there's so much negative consequences that come with it. And most of it is stuff that you're not going to be able to escape. You're going to have to live with that all the time, thinking about it. And it's just not worth it. Like if you're balancing that out, the amount of benefit that you got from wearing that mask versus the negative feelings that you're having, it just doesn't make any sense. 


Another thing to consider is that when we are wearing these masks and we're showing up in this way, that we think is going to make us seem more lovable or more professional, that those negative feelings that are building up behind that mask are starting to express themselves in our actions. And that our mask may not be as good as we think it is. And that it might actually backfire on us. When we start to face our fears and we let go of some of our masks, we're going to be surprised that the things that we feared don't actually happen. In fact, a lot of times the complete opposite can happen. 

I want to share three examples of how this has played out. The first one I'm going to share is my own personal example. 


Example #1 Being Vulnerable Creates Credibility

So as you know, I have lived with depression for almost 30 years now, and I've always been worried that if I was to share my struggles with my depression, that it would invalidate me to everybody would invalidate me as an employee. When I started advancing in my career and I was a coach to a lot of the executives in the company, I thought if they knew about my struggles with depression, it would invalidate me as a coach and if I was to share with my children's school about my struggles with depression, that it would call into question if I could be a good parent or not. 


What I found was that when I started sharing my struggles and again, sharing in a specific way of letting people know that I'm still taking responsibility for my own stuff, but letting them know that yeah, sometimes certain activities are going to be hard for me, but also sharing: 


Here's something I struggled with. And now I have come to the other side of that struggle because I worked out my stuff around it.


That it actually made for much better and deeper connections. And it actually raised my credibility with so many people. When I was there coaching some of these individuals, I'd see them struggling with some of the same thoughts I had struggled with. Now although the circumstance might be totally different, I'd start to share my story in a succinct way.


I'd try, of course, but all of a sudden it made them so much more comfortable to talk about their struggle because I now had credibility. They knew that I could understand authentically what they were going through. That I wasn't just some mouthpiece giving advice that I was someone that had lived it and done it. And I had figured out my way through it, same thing with the schools was that I could share with them what I had gone through and all of a sudden they were getting inspiration because a lot of times those teachers or the administrators were also parents and they went through the same kind of struggles that I was going through. 


And so it wasn't invalidating me as being a good parent. It was confirming that I was human, just like everybody else. We figured out ways that we could help each other work through these things. And in fact, they would learn things from me on how I had gotten through a struggle that now they were able to go and help other people. So that whole fear that I had of not being taken as being credible was actually completely opposite. It's that I became someone that inspired someone that was able to make a difference in somebody else's life because I had gone through all of this myself.

Example #2 Your Difference is What Makes you Valuable

The next example that I want to share with you is someone who's running for the democratic nomination for the presidential ticket. And I don't talk about politics on this show. I don't share my political views. I'm just watching what's going on in the world and seeing how does that apply to all of us as humans on the struggles that we're going through? So don't take this as an endorsement one way or the other. I'm just sharing this story. 


So Pete Buttigieg if you don't know him, he is again, I mentioned running for the democratic nomination for President in 2020, and he happens to be gay. Now he shared something the other night on one of the news programs about how as he was growing up, he always felt that being gay was going to prevent him from living the life of service that he wanted to do is that he always wanted to serve this country, whether it was in the military or in politics. And so he's done both.


And that, what he has found is that as the world has evolved, is that the fact that he's gay and that he's open about it is actually something that is helping him right now. And I saw the way that he handled a situation, which was someone was about to vote for him and actually had turned in a vote. And then she found out that he was married to a man and she asked if she could take her vote back. And the interviewer was asking mayor, Pete, I think is how they call him how he felt about that.


And he had this really great response that although he was saddened by her response, that he was still going to be there to serve in her best interest. And I thought, you know, this is really cool was that he wasn't judging her for thinking differently than him. He wasn't judging her for having a different lifestyle or different values or, or any of that. He was allowing her to be exactly who she was and allowing her to believe exactly what she wanted to and then still having the compassion and the care that he still wanted to be there for her. 


And I thought that is amazing because how many of us again are worried about being judged and that have faced other people's negative reactions? And so it made us go and put our mask back on and try to act in a different way that wasn't in alignment with who we are. So here we have someone who is starting to role model that he can live his authentic life and he can still allow you to live your authentic life and that he's still going to want to support you and have compassion for you anyway. That I think is such an inspiring message, is that it didn't shake him to want to go and put his mask back on and that he wasn't going to ask her to be something that she wasn't.


Example #3 Keeping Yourself Small Denies Help to the People That Need It Most


In my final example, I want to share about an individual who was downplaying her abilities at work. Now, I think a lot of people have heard that term imposter syndrome, which is relating to when you're doing something that you don't think that you're qualified for doing. So in this case, it's almost like a reverse imposter syndrome was that she knew that she had the abilities to do something in a role that was several levels higher than what she was doing, but she kept herself in this lower role because she was worried that other people would think she was an imposter if she was to try for that higher role. 


Now I had observed this employee because I'm always out there looking for people that I can help lift up. If I'm seeing someone that is being under utilized for their talent. And I know that they have a bigger contribution that they could make in the world, but that maybe they're holding themselves back or they don't believe that they could do it. I want to see if I can go and inspire them and help lift them up. 

This person was one of those.

I had seen these really great activities that she was doing outside of her regular role. And I thought, "Wow, that type of ability that she was exhibiting in those instances was an ability that fit this other role that I knew was coming available." Now this new role was about three levels higher than her and that if you looked around at the other individuals that had the same type of role, they might have had fancy degrees or that they had certifications in certain things. 


And she didn't have that degree. And she didn't have the certifications, but what she had was the ability. She also had some extra knowledge that was needed for this role, as it was evolving that the rest of the group didn't have. 


So when I went and I presented this idea to her, she was definitely downplaying it and saying, no, no, no. And she was like keeping herself small. She was so scared that other people would not see her as qualified for it, that she was holding herself back. Through enough coaching, she was able to see these things as strengths because yeah, she saw it. She knew it was there, but what she needed the most was help in being prepared for how other people would interact with her if she was chosen for the role. 


So I'm really excited to share that she was chosen for the role and that was something that wasn't quite common at this company to be able to leapfrog, so to speak two or three levels above where you were. But because she did that and she faced all of her fears, the outcome was that she was so much more approachable by everybody that needed those services than some of the other people doing that same role. 


It's that the majority of the population of the company were actually intimidated by the other people, by having those fancy degrees or by having all of those certifications. But here was just a regular person that had been just like them, but now they felt like they could come and talk with her and that she might to be able to understand them a little bit better. And it turned out great. This woman is just killing it at her job. She is helping so many people.

In fact, I think the benefit that she is bringing to the company actually has been bigger than the other people in the roles, because she has more of..., I know a following sounds weird, but I mean, that's kind of a term that we're starting to understand, but as a leader in this company, now people are coming to her. They're..., they're looking to her. They're getting inspired. She's teaching them new things and they're being able to do these things and implement it in what they're doing. 


And so she's having this really great ripple effect because she was willing to face her fears, take off that mask, let her inner light shine and it's becoming like this beacon to so many people and her confidence level has now like shot through the roof. 



5. What can you imagine will happen if you start taking off your masks? 


  • What impact will you have on you?


  • Will your depression start to go away? 


  • Will your anxiety start to fall by the wayside? 


  • Will you start to have new, amazing opportunities that you never even knew existed? 


  • Will you be able to start having that huge impact on the world that you always wanted to have? 


  • Now, what happens when you do take off your mask? 


  • What if there are people that don't like you anymore, or that might have some words to say, or, you know, some judgment that they actually express that you know is real? 


  • What happens with those people? 

Well, it often takes people, some time to get used to the new you. It doesn't mean that those people aren't eventually going to go, “Yeah, this is actually a pretty amazing version of you!” And I'm so glad that you showed up because you will get there. You'll get there for a lot of people. It just might be a little bit of a shock to the system at first, because you were so convincing in your old mask that they can't believe that that wasn't you. 


Now for other people, yeah, they might decide that you're not the person for them once you do take off the mask and that's okay. Loss is always hard, but when you think about that balance of negative emotions that you had to feel by having that mask on versus the amount of loss that you're going to feel, where is the balance there? Is it worth it to you? And remember all emotions when they come to you, they're never permanent. They're like a storm, like rainstorm. There's a beginning, a middle, and an end. And that loss may hurt in the beginning, but eventually it hurts less and less. And then eventually you don't even feel it anymore.

And it might even be like six months later and you look back and you're like, "I really, really don't miss having that person in my life", and because of everything else that has come into your life, you realize that living your authentic you, has filled you with so much love and joy from the inside, that you don't need to depend on getting your love and joy from other people.


You are a whole person that everybody else gets to enjoy just being around.  And you get to enjoy just being around them.


You don't need that external validation from them and that my friend is the beauty and the magic of being authentically you. 


I hope that you find the courage and the inspiration to start taking the steps to getting there because you have some pretty amazing things about you that nobody has seen yet. And we can't wait to see that side of you. We can't wait to be around this version of you that is so true and just bask in the light that you're going to be shining out to all of us. 


My friends, if you want to have that extra support of going through the journey of finding and embracing your authentic self and having that support as you're starting to show yourself to the world, I invite you to consider joining in the Unshakable Program. This is my new men's monthly online group coaching program. Enrollment will open up again at the end of February. If it's something you want to check out, please go to my website at myfreedomgrove.com/unshakable. We would love to have you join us. 


Until next week my friends, have a fabulous time! Get out there and be you! Bye bye.

Thank you for listening to My Freedom Grove podcast! I hope this podcast provided you some relief and some inspiration. If you know somebody else that can benefit from this podcast, please share the link with them. Together, I know we can make a difference. To access more podcasts and offerings, please visit www.myfreedomgrove.com. Until next time, take care of yourself. This world needs you.


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