Now, that’s a different sort of question isn’t it? I mean, at first glance, you might think I’m talking about a fugitive, or that you’re involved in a hide-and-seek conspiracy with your children. But that actually is not what I’m referring to at all. Instead, I’m talking about you, yourself and you.

You see, I recently had the opportunity to connect with a colleague of mine as she is to be a guest on my radio show this week. So, we got together to discuss the topic and content. The show is going to be all about “the masks we wear”, which is always a fun thing to look at. And as I’ve sat with this, my sense is that there’s merit in planting seeds around this topic right now. Then, when you listen to the radio show, you’ll have already had some time to think about the issue at hand. And, if you don’t get to listen in, you’ll still be privy to some of the broader concepts at least, and have gotten the mental conversation going.

One of the things I know for sure is that you are so much more than what you choose to portray to the world. How do I know this? Because I know that I too am so much more than what people experience and perceive. There’s only so much I allow others to see. And this way of operating in the world is a function of what we’re taught is acceptable in social situations. Not convinced? Think about the following questions:

* Do you allow yourself to get “emotional” at work?
* Do you have a tattoo? Is it obviously visible or somewhat hidden?
* How many people in your life – out of all the people you know – have seen you get really, truly, rip-roaring mad?
* Who in your professional circle has experienced you having a belly laugh? Like a laughing-so-hard-you-spew-whatever’s-in-your-mouth-through-your-nose kind of laugh?
* How many times have you kept quiet during an uncomfortable conversation? What stopped you from talking?

There are a myriad of other questions that could be asked here; the essence of what I’m asking you to consider is the fact that there are aspects of you that you simply do not allow others to see. There are aspects of you that you actually don’t allow yourself to know. And the cost of this, is that there is a way that you deny yourself the opportunity to experience – or at least to be aware of – all that you’re capable of. Why is that?

Well, as aforesaid, to a certain degree this is attributable to what we’re taught. Big boys don’t cry; anger hurts; laughing too loud is silly; professionals are reserved. You get the point. And while these might be accepted as social conventions, they are in fact just that and nothing more. These conventions are not necessarily (if at all) inherently valid. This ultimately means that, to some degree anyway, you’re not being as authentic as you could be.

So, here’s a question to consider: what’s missing in your life right now? Having answered this, here’s another question: what would become possible for you – how might this missing experience show up – if you were to start stretching into being all that you are, rather than just some of you? What if you could show the world your angry side? What if you could cry when you felt the need, and not just behind closed doors? What if you could speak when you felt called to speak?

I happen to know first-hand that there is a way that the world and all its myriad of possibilities becomes illuminated in direct proportion to the courage you show in being fully and completely authentic. Yes, there are social conventions to consider. And at the same time, there’s a way to be with social convention that still allows you to be all that you are. At the very least, you can speak to all of who you are. So when an irritating colleague speaks rudely in the next staff meeting, and you feel yourself getting angry, say that – “I am getting angry.” Don’t work to hide it; own it. Same for when you’re at work and receive the news that a loved one has died; don’t try to bottle up your sadness, allow it to be there. In other words, allow the world at large to experience you even in your vulnerability. There’s truth there, and it creates space for more truth. Which is a good thing.

Bottom-line: hiding aspects of who you are, whether from others or yourself, equates to living a lie. Lies always stifle opportunity, or at the very least, deny the establishment of a solid foundation upon which to build opportunity. Relationships, projects, everyday tasks all require you to be as authentic as you can. Knowing who you are and how you want to be experienced is great; go ahead and work to create that image in the world. And at the same time, always know that you are so much more than that image. So go on out there and be ALL of you.

Author's Bio: 

Gail Barker is a Certified Professional Life Coach and Co-Author of The Control Freak's Guide to Living Lightly. Since 2002, Gail has supported hundreds of professional women, through coaching, workshops, and her monthly ezine, in shifting their lives from chaos to calm; her coaching practice revolves around the concept of ease. For Gail, life is all about having every person experience success on their terms. To this end, she invites you to ask yourself, "whose life are you living?", and if your answer is anything other than "my own", visit Stellar Coaching and Consulting at www.stellarcc.com to get on your own path to success.