The Ongoing Quest for Authenticity

by | Jun 13, 2021 | Personal Growth | 7 comments

To write authentically as a life coach feels like a strange balance–because I never know quite how far to go in writing the messy, ugly, juicy details of my own life.

When I became a life coach in 2013, I noticed that some of my creative energy to write real, tell-all, blog posts dried up.

I had always written truthfully about my life through my books, personal essays, and blog posts. Writing truthfully about my life was my thing! Writing is more alive when it’s more real.

But when I took on this new professional direction, I felt afraid to go all the way there in my blog writing. Some revealing pieces languished.

I guess I thought I was “supposed to have it all together” and that it wouldn’t be good for potential clients or the clients I already had to know that much about me. Like, that time I got obsessed with the Tinder Guy in Atlanta and stayed up all night on the phone talking with him. As in, wasn’t that unhinged? Or the ways that dishes used to pile up in my sink. I suppose I judged myself, expecting others would judge me too. The desire to look perfect. Oh!

Being reluctant to disclose personal information is common for people in these helping professions. Therapists and counselors are generally sparing with self-disclosure.

When I’m coaching, I generally veer toward a limited approach to self-disclosure–that is to say, I don’t talk much about myself. I may share something personal if I believe that may help the client. If I share a tidbit, I try to share the reason I am sharing it first. In the end, life coaching is about you and your life, not me.

So then, how does this level of disclosure translate to my blog and writing? I’ve been pondering this question over the last few months because I want to take risks in my blogging again.

I’ve noticed that “vulnerable” blog posts from life coaches are popular but those kinds of posts often present some kind of formulaic tips or answers for life problems, as if we are only supposed to share when we have resolved the problem (or our foibles) to our own satisfaction and tell you the answers in the rear view mirror.

Sometimes I don’t have “answers”–and I don’t want to even pretend to have them.

I was talking about this dilemma with my friend Jenny Bitner, a hypnotherapist. We both have artistic and therapeutic sides of our work. Jenny said, “It feels hard in any field where you are offering help to admit your own problems.”

“People are very drawn to someone who appears together and confident…not that you can’t be both,” she also said. That’s the question. Can we appear together and confident, and admit that we are a work-in-progress with problems of our own? Do we want to read about Oprah’s meltdowns, or do we want her to only guide us with wisdom?

I’m after authenticity because that’s what feels most alive. By its nature, being authentic involves risk. I notice lots of young YouTube stars posting videos like “misconceptions about me” or “mental health chat” where they talk about their own problems. I get inspired by their courage and transparency. I mean, I know people think I am transparent too but only I know what I’m not sharing!

If I am honest I myself am drawn to people who are quite explicit in acknowledging they don’t have their perfect lives all worked out either.

Authenticity is a constant quest because what felt authentic a year ago may not feel authentic now.

These are questions I have been sitting with. I’m wanting to return to the more risky, personal online versions of my writing, and trust that works.

From here on out, I’m going to try to be even a wee bit more authentic and unafraid to be a human, writer and life coach and all. Let’s see how that adventure goes. Eeeek!

What about you? Do you have any places in your life where you would like to show up more authentically, but you are afraid to do so?

7 Comments

  1. Chris Frasca

    In the past, when I have shown up authentically with dating partners it almost always let to rejection and eventual breakups. it has been difficult for me to continue to be a real deal kind of woman due to all the male rejection I have experienced What I have learned is to just continue on my solo Quirkyalone path abd don’t stop being authentic

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      Hey Chris, Thanks for commenting! Yes it’s painful when we bare our true selves and get rejected. It can cause us to give up and shut down but I don’t think it should. I think you are on to the right path. Eventually when we find someone who accepts us we are that’s a beautiful thing, and if we don’t show ourselves then we don’t get the opportunity for that to happen. Here’s to the authentic path xo

      Reply
  2. Pia

    Sasha ! I absolutely love the work you do and love to see him share your journey and transformation. Authentic, or guarded, you share… that is a beautiful gift.

    I worked with you a few years back when I moved to Sacramento, CA.
    I am so thankful for the time spent , and still thrilled to see your insight on life.
    Thank you for being you !

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      So great to hear from you Pia! I am glad to get your comment here. Hope you are doing well in life–sending lots of good vibes!

      Reply
  3. Meg Amor

    Go Sasha!! Aloha. :-). I completely get the caught in the middle space of wanting to appear calm and together for clients. And also wanting to he authentic.

    But reading your post today. What made me feel the best in this was hearing about your tinder all nighter and the dishes in the sink. I LOVED that. How real and validating for me. I’ve told those things too. The dishes in the sink are an ongoing issue. I used to put them in bags and take them to work to run them through the dishwasher there lol.

    I’m also in a quest to be authentic and I’m realizing that if we are always “perfect” and “together” and don’t show our messy or vulnerable sides – we don’t give people a place to be themselves either. When someone shares something vulnerable or “not together” or is real with me. I think that’s so cool. I admire them for it. And it gives me a space to be not “perfect” too. It Makes me feel part of things that other people experience those moments in their life too. I don’t feel so alone in my “oddities” or not remotely coping moments.

    So please. Be real. Love it. Also. And I’ve just realized this. I’m more likely to take advice or listen to people I feel are real. Who reveal themselves. It gives me permission to be real too. And I love those people even more. Thank you and aloha Meg 🙂

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      Thank you Meg! Really appreciate your words here. This was kind of a test balloon post – hey readers, want to know the real me? Of course there is always calibration in howwwww real to get. I won’t show you my dirty dishes everyday on Instagram 😉 LOL. But it is really good to be reminded that one person’s vulnerability gives permission to another’s. This is how I want to relate. Aloha to you!

      Reply
      • Meg Amor

        Ohh thanks Sasha. :-). And aloha back to you. :-).

        Reply

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Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

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