D - Discover Your True Authentic Self
What does it mean to be authentic? The word is bantered around a lot these days. Do your actions and words align with your beliefs and values?
What a bunch of gobblety-gook!
For me, being authentic answers the question “Are YOU the title you want people to see or are you the person you want to be?” Does being YOU bring YOU joy?”
How do we find that real deal person in ourselves?
The Story of Laughing Lynette
It took me a while to find my true self. Let’s call her Laughing Lynette. For years, Laughing Lynette lived in the shadows because Logical Lynette had issues and obstacles to deal with. There was no time for fun and games. What Laughing Lynette sought had to wait. Someone had to follow the dream; someone had to gain respect; someone had to pay the bills.
Logical Lynette followed a path to rid herself of the trials and tribulations of a life plagued with segregation, racism, discrimination and sexism. She had no time to put her guard down. Failure was not an option.
She achieved her dream; she became a physician. She looked and acted like a professional, having suppressed the child that used to recite poetry in French; the child that traveled the world by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica and The World Book; the child that was the marble champion of her neighborhood.
Was losing that creative side necessary? Can you not be a professional AND have some fun? For a while, I thought not. But over the years, Laughing Lynette chipped away at the persona of her counterpart Logical.
Logical Lynette, trying to maintain her professionalism attitude, saw her mental health suffer. On a dark, dreary night as she stood on the railing of a bridge, she almost gave into the attitude that if she couldn’t cure herself of her depression – to her a definite sign of weakness – she might as well die! Hey, you can’t be a physician and be mentally impaired, right? About to let go, a voice emerged from her thoughts that said “Call Yo Mama!” It sounded like her mother, but it was most likely Laughing Lynette peaking through a hole in her psyche.
She straightened up and got down from the bridge. Sitting on the flooring of the bridge crying; which was also once seen as a weakness, Logical Lynette immediately realized “If I kill myself before I call my mother…she’s gonna kill me!” Laughing Lynette got a chuckle out of that and continued her quest to break free.
I wish I could say Laughing Lynette took over from that day on. Unfortunately, Logical Lynette returned to her status quo. Even after great success with therapy, she again started worrying about being a physician who sees a psychiatrist and takes Prozac.
She gave up on what was working. Where’s the logic in that?
Laughing Lynette for Good
Sometimes, it takes life going to the gutter before we finally let our Laughing side take over.
In 2000, I was sued for malpractice, an experience I hope you never have to endure. I went to trial and won, but in the aftermath, self-doubt impeded my ability to return to practice. I was again depressed.
Enter Laughing Lynette. You gotta love this girl. She helped me realize that I was a physician, yes, but a human being, too! I know! Novel concept, right? And because of being human, unintended mistakes can happen.
“Logical Lynette! YOU ain’t perfect!” What? Say it isn’t so.
When I chose to return to medicine, there had been a definite change in who I was as a person and as a physician.
Hey, I survived thoughts of suicide AND a potentially career-ending lawsuit. It was time to reassess ME! To continue my craft, I had to be willing to stop second-guessing my decisions.
To continue my life I needed outlets that were joyful. I acquired the ability to find humor in my job; now it had always been there, but it became more crystal clear. The surgeon whose scrub pants fell to the floor during a procedure and the delicate procedure necessary to pull them up, especially since he operated commando! I still tell that story with act-outs!
The patient who asked “Why do you need me to check my electric lights before the procedure?” “Ma’am, it’s electrolytes.” We all had a chuckle at that one! I felt a cloud lift from my brain. I began to laugh AT WORK.
I found joy. Outside of the job, I started walking, then jogging, then running. I ran marathons! Do you know how many people you can cuss out in 26.2 miles? Not only was it cathartic, the endorphin rush was real.
I’m 68 years old now and happy to say that Laughing Lynette is here to stay.
Tap Into Your Laughing Self
Who is your alter ego? Who is trying to emerge to help YOU be YOU?
Here’s how to tap into your authentic, happy self.
- Imagine living life in your own truth. Visualize every aspect of it. How will you feel when you wake up? When you fall asleep? If you got on stage and presented your life, how would you feel about it? Proud? Excited? Content?
- Take risks. Run a marathon, join Toastmasters, drink a few beers then tell a set of jokes at your local stand-up comedy bar. Be new at something again.
- Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughter is the best medicine, and I’m prescribing it to you now.
As Oscar Wilde said “Be Yourself. Everyone else is taken.” With a little humor and some gusto, you will get there.