I have creative services and art to offer, but that is not enough. It is necessary to promote ourselves, to be seen and heard amongst the clamor of the outer world. How does one do that and maintain their authenticity? As I look at the recent past and present, I see the marketing trends of the 20th century: snake oil, smoke and mirrors and false advertising. Marketing has possessed a lot of gimmicks, slogans and profits. The digital age of the 21st century brings enhanced or altered photos, blindingly white teeth, video and multiple channels of media. There are offers for something free, a percentage off the cost or customization of products and services. How can we stir vulnerability and authenticity into this pot of soup? Or a post of this pot of soup?
I am not a marketing guru haha. I do not know your brand, audience, style, font, photos or friends. My suggestions apply to the totality of our lives as well as marketing and promotion. What I do know is that I want to practice courage in ways that matter. It’s easy to fall in line with everything we see around us. The currents are strong and the river is mighty. If you are trying to creatively put yourself out there to date, make new friends or share your business, there are a lot of examples to follow for “promoting” yourself.
I am pausing to peer into the emotional and spiritual nature of it. I suggest taking a deep breath, finding your center and checking in with your heart. As you begin to promote yourself, in whatever fashion, there are a multitude of micro-choices to make. Take your time so you can remain connected to your heart center. Bringing mindfulness to this area of your life is helping you manifest what you want in the outer world while keeping true to your inner light.
Heart-centered courage will also be accompanied by big feelings and this is the crux of what I want to say. Our feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability are what arise when we try to practice honesty and authenticity. The tender part of us that carries our soul essence and wisdom buckles under the weight of inner criticism and outer trends of social behavior. Acknowledging that this is happening allows us to pause and regroup. If we move too fast or try to do too much, we lose the opportunity to be real and hide behind others’ expectations or our perception of their expectations.
Courage is hard, but the world needs you. The world needs our authenticity to evolve. We have to be brave and face our shadows in order to heal. I just did a radical makeover on my website to reveal more of my inner truth. I followed the creative impulse, harnessed that energy and pushed as far outside my comfort zone as I could given my current state of growth. It was liberating, exhilarating, exhausting and terrifying!
Last night, after publishing, I had three uncomfortable dreams. In two of them I was being chased by people that wanted to harm me. In one house there was no furniture, which I interpret as no “structure” to the inside. I felt fear, chaos, a sense of danger and kept trying to run away. The other dream was about belonging, or not belonging. I was at a hotel or club, and did not fit in with the other people. There were also bathroom scenes. These usually show up when I’m deep in emotional waters that need “flushing” out.
This morning, my voice was hoarse. So here I am, trying to express the most authentic version of myself and I “lose my voice” and experience fear, chaos, danger, vulnerability and a sense of not belonging. While I am trying to express unedited truth, I am simultaneously expressing the shadow elements underlying my attempts at creativity, authenticity and vulnerability and want to run away. From a non-dualistic perspective all of these feelings and experiences are intrinsically connected. You don’t get to work on being brave and authentic without also facing your own fear and criticism.
My tea bag this morning says: We all want to be understood, to be acknowledged and to be loved. Living authentically raises our deepest fears of rejection, but if we whitewash ourselves into shiny perfection with a peppy slogan, what are others accepting? We remain longing for understanding and love, and to be seen and heard in our truest version and voice. We remain stuck in a sociocultural pot of soup that is not really nourishing us. Our authenticity is the secret and purest ingredient.
I just wanted to acknowledge all of this and suggest small steps toward bringing your inner light forward. Go as slow as you need to in order not to back paddle or quit. I can tell you that I am sitting somewhat uncomfortably with my website. Part of me feels relaxed and elated and the other part wants to delete every word! There is a picture of me not smiling with face paint, in a raw, vulnerable and deeply profound moment. I am scared to share it, afraid of being judged and misunderstood. I want to delete that too, or explain it. But the years keep passing and I keep thinking courage will just arrive on the doorstep. I am finally ready to acknowledge that it is a muscle I must flex regularly or it remains atrophied and ill at ease inside of me.
I hope you glimpse yourself in my vulnerability and fears, in the sense that you know you are not alone. We are all struggling with the dichotomy between our authentic inner light and outer pressures for conformity and perfection. I am thinking of you and hoping you can take a moment to rally your inner resources and shine a little brighter. The world needs your light.