How To Embrace Your Real, Authentic Self (Even When It's Difficult)


Sometimes it hurts to be yourself.

Sometimes, things in life don’t always work out the way that we expect them to.

And even the things that we think are steadfast certainties can change over time. Realistically, the only thing that we can control in life is our reaction to the circumstances around us. This is true in every decision that impacts us in our day, even when it comes to decisions of the heart.

But what if the way that we want to react to those situations is something that might make things more difficult or even more painful for a little while? How can you be yourself when being true to who you might throw you off track — or worse, affect others? 

In the video above, Dr. Jennelle, who is a Ph.D. Psychologist and Relationship Advisor specializing in nontraditional relationships, explains that sometimes when we are in the pursuit of the things that we think we want, we find something surprising. Something that we didn’t expect.

So how can we guarantee that our responses to those situations are as true and authentic as possible? Especially in a situation like a marriage or a relationship where people might get hurt?

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Many people know Elizabeth Gilbert through her book, Eat Pray Love, in which the newly-divorced Gilbert questions the things that are most important to her and goes on a whirlwind journey through several countries to find lucky husband number two. But what many people don’t know is that it didn’t end there for her.

Gilbert’s happiness wasn’t actually in the situation that ended her book. It wasn’t even with her second husband at all. After a short marriage, she announced that she and her husband were separating, and later revealed that she was in love with her best friend, Rayya Elias.

This was not an easy decision for her to reach, but she did what she needed to in order to commit herself to her true feelings on the situation.

The same circumstances even extended to Glennon Doyle, a renowned Christian “mommy” blogger with three children. Just before her second memoir, Love Warrior was released, she and her husband announced their decision to split. Only a few months after that, she revealed that she and famed soccer player Abby Wambach were together and shortly thereafter got married.

Even Dr. Jennelle herself was in a similar situation. She was engaged to her high school boyfriend — a man she’d been with for over ten years — when she met a married woman with three children she ended up falling in love with. Five years to the day after they declared their love for each other, they were married.

In each of these situations, there came a time when these women had to choose what was best and most authentic for themselves. But that doesn’t mean that it was an easy choice — nor does it mean that there wasn’t a “messy middle” section where they were moving from their old lives into their new ones.

In every case, these women could have chosen the simple path that would have offered least resistance — that is, to not pursue the relationships that would make happy. And if you are facing a similar decision in your own life, then you know how hard it can be to realize that the very thing you want is the thing that will make your life more difficult — for a time at least.

None of these love stories might look like what you would expect.

They’re not traditional in the least, and they’re certainly not Disney tales of romance where the damsel gets swept off of her feet. And even though these decisions can be difficult, it doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the struggle. In fact, this may be one of the hardest things that you will ever have to go through in your life, and Dr. Jennelle acknowledges this in the video. 

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But if you’re going to make an omelet, you’re going to have to break some eggs. And in order to follow what your heart is telling you — especially if it requires the separation of you and your partner or spouse — things will become likewise broken or change in ways that may be uncomfortable.

You can expect difficulty in transitioning from your old life to your new one; in figuring out how to share your kids for the first time. In developing a changing relationship with your ex-spouse. In embracing the parts of yourself that you could have easily kept hidden. In accepting that you fell in love with a woman even though you were in a traditional relationship.  

And although these decisions can be hard, they do not have to be impossible. It’s up to each of us to show that choosing authentic happiness — choosing love — or even something terrifying but worth it is not “wrong,” and you can get through it.

It takes courage to change your mind and acknowledge the needs that your heart is expressing, but living life to the fullest and moving through the pain and the difficult parts will make you realize that you need to live authentically because, in the end, it's always worth it.

Your heart will thank you later.

Looking for more advice on how to handle unexpected change? Reach out to Dr. Jennelle, or learn more about the Big Change Of Heart Community

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