The Power of honest story telling in a fake world
The Power of honest story telling: Part One
My name is Danae Cornford and I am the founder of Happywhenfit.
I’m a social person. I love to talk to people about life and those deep and meaningful conversations that keep us up all night with the natural fuel source of passion and purpose.
When you talk to people about passion and purpose, you invite them to tell their story. It’s like opening a portal to someone’s heart when you take the time to listen.
Our stories are what make us human - it’s the highs and lows of every emotion that teach us and guide us on the journey of life. We learn from our own stories and from others. It is commonly only our closest friends and family that know the details of our chapter. Sometimes, we don’t even share that with them. In fact, many of us hide the real details, the messy and uncensored ‘draft copies’, in the shame that others might learn that we aren’t perfect.
Isn’t it funny? We hide the truth that we are imperfect, which is actually what makes us human. Imagine the power in sharing our truth with others. Aside from the fact we could all learn so much from each other, exposing our vulnerability is the key to creating real connections with others who are then accepting of who we are, flaws and all.
Let me share some of my story.
From the outside looking in, I’ve often been told I’m intimidating. The reality of how I feel on the inside is the opposite.
First impressions buy into the narrative of a high achieving woman, who has had many enriching and successful experiences for my age. A degree in teaching, a qualified Personal Trainer, I sing and play guitar, I competed in Ballroom Dancing for 4 years, I achieved Pro Status as a Fitness model in my first year of competing and now I have my own business doing what I love. However, when you dig beneath the surface layers, I am very human!
I m a sensitive woman, who like many, has a story fraught with insecurity, lack of self confidence and self belief and the burden of never feeling ‘enough’. Success can look great on the outside, but it can often be a reflection of an internal battle to prove one’s worth. I take this self awareness with me with everyone I meet. It is a constant reminder to be cautious in the judgements we make of others. No matter how good or bad their life may look from the external picture, we don’t know their story to pass judgement. It’s also good to remember, that everytime you pass judgement on someone else, it’s like saying that you’re perfect, and nobody else is. The truth is we are all imperfect. Find compassion in that.
The Power of honest Story Telling: Part Two
Our internal struggles can manifest themselves in so many different ways. Sometimes they are visible to others and sometimes they are not. My internal struggles were mostly related to a lack of self love. How did that manifest itself in my behaviour patterns? Low self-confidence, not following through on things, not setting healthy boundaries for myself, people pleasing and not speaking up for myself, to name a few negative traits. These internal struggles have manifested themselves physically in my body - severe dermatitis on my scalp and face, migraines, chronic fatigue, unexplainable nerve tingling. Our bodies are incredible information vessels.
I learnt first-hand that we can become our own prison cell if we don’t get to know who we truly are and how to share that authentically with ourselves and others. Honest story-telling, gives us a way out of our self created prison cell.
Until I was able to truly confront myself, accept myself for who I am, and share that with others who I trusted, my negative behaviour patterns would play out in a repetitive, self-destructive cycle, in my case of being addicted to achieving more to run away from my feelings of not being good enough.
What did I discover? Funnily enough the antidote to running is stopping.
Journaling became a way of connecting with my true self. It was my first step towards honest story telling in safe environment. Often I would write down words and wonder where they came from! When we stop to write, it’s like giving your inner voice its 5 minutes in the spotlight. GO! And when I didn’t put rules or restrictions on my writing, I would just verbally ‘spew’ onto the page everything I was feeling or thinking and suddenly it became an acceptable form of expressing the things I was too afraid to share with others, mostly myself! Journaling was giving myself permission to speak up, something I always found challenging, which affects every relationship in your life.
Honest communication is, in my opinion, one of the most important life skills. It allows us to love, express, feel and live deeply. The challenge, is accepting the differences and imperfections we each share. It is also made more challenging in a World that has become so digitalised.Technology and social media often encourages us to hide behind our ego-made masks. To say things we wouldn’t say in person, to show only the ‘best’ sides of ourselves, to interpret things without the means of face to face expression incorrectly, and most sadly, to reduce the amount of face to face sharing we give one another. It’s a breeding ground for perfectionism, comparison, judgement, confusion, and unrealistic expectations of self and others.
In my late teens/early twenties, Instagram really took off. A whole new world that I started using as a means of sharing my fitness journey. What I didn’t realise is how much this online platform was encouraging me to become hyper-critical of myself. It was an underlying pressure that I had to share the right things, get enough likes, get enough followers, and portray what was perfect about myself and my life.
I have become aware now of the huge way this can affect our connection to our true identities. We are made to feel that unless we have a picture of ‘togetherness’, success, and perfection, we are not ok just as we are. I see this pressure emitting itself, just like the unseen frequencies of our cell phones, on society today, especially Youth, who are in such a vulnerable stage of identity formation.
The answer to this problem comes back to the theme of honest story-telling. We need to give ourselves and each other the permission to share our imperfect selves. Not just to share it, but to celebrate it! Our identities are made up of so many flaws and imperfections, but when we allow it, when we drop the cover ups, there is so much raw beauty in just being who we are. Finding strength and true power in our vulnerability. Loving and accepting ourselves means dropping the fake stories we have built up about who we are that we believe are needed to be loved and gain acceptance.
Ironically, the very thing we think will make us unlovable to others (just being ourselves), is in fact the thing that brings us closer. There is a depth in our relationships that cannot be tapped into when we cannot hold and share our truth. So, where is the truth in your story?
What story do you have to share with honesty?
This requires listening to your inner voice. “Ugh'“, I hear you say. Let me be the first to admit that the practice of meditation has taken me many years to accept and welcome as part of my daily routine. I have fought that ‘uncomfortable silence’ the whole damn way as someone who has always been such a ‘doer’. Sitting still just ‘wasn’t my thing’. Another cover up story. Actually, I rediscovered a big part of me through meditation. My creative side is given the space and freedom that cannot be granted by a busy mind. The multitude of thoughts and decisions that we have to filter through everyday can make it difficult to connect with our authentic selves and the value we have to share. That was what eventually helped me to accept meditation and become grateful for its presence in my life. Without it, everything else in my life was moving with a ‘Yang’ , or outward force. There was no balance in this act of ‘busyness’. The energy just kept moving out and I felt empty. Let alone did I feel like I had anything of value to share with anyone else.
Perhaps, this is what holds many of us back?
We are frightened by our inner truth, by our imperfections and how this will be received if we share it.
If so, this is because of societal conditioning. The only way to break that trend is to break the silence. Find people who want to know more than just ‘how your day was’. Find the people that ask what lit you up inside this week. The ones that ring you up and say, “hey, you didn’t seem yourself today, I just wanted to check in”. The ones that know about the stuff ups you made in the past, but who accept that that isn’t who you are now. The friends who don’t accept the false stories from you and demand the authentic you. Surround yourself with the people who love you for your vulnerability and who encourage you to share it. And then, be that person for others! Be that amazing person in every environment and no matter who you are with.
Let’s all grant ourselves permission to stop tiptoeing around this façade of fake perfectionism. What’s the worst that could happen? You might lose some fake friends.
What’s the upside? Your true relationships will improve, the universe will support you by providing more opportunities for growth, you will feel better in yourself, you will look better, people will treat you with more respect….wow, sharing your real self sure does sound horrible.
In honour of the theme in this post, I am honest in saying that I am still on this journey of sharing my authentic self and feeling comfortable in it. I still retreat into hiding place behind my false narratives from time to time.
Happywhenfit has become my outlet for sharing my honest stories and those of others, and has as such become a hugely rewarding part of my life. What I am discovering is how much freedom and healing there is to be found in sharing our truth. Fear stops controlling you and you start truly loving life and yourself! For what is there to be afraid of when you are unapologetically yourself?
There is a reason honest story telling has been a part of all of the traditional cultures of the World. Our stories teach us about life and our life in turn teaches us about ourselves. Open the space for true sharing and open your hearts for real feeling. We can never truly be alone, when we share what it is that makes us human.