A woman found an eagle’s egg and put it in the nest of a backyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All her life the eagle did what the backyard chickens did, thinking she was a backyard chicken. She scratched the earth for worms and insects. She clucked and cackled. And she would thrash her wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day she saw a magnificent bird far above her in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” she asked.
“That’s the eagle, the queen of the birds,” said her neighbor. She belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth–we’re chickens.”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what she thought she was.
Linda: We all have beliefs that keep us from knowing who we really are. To live a life of authenticity requires knowing ourselves well and the courage to make choices that are aligned with that truth. When we begin to scan to see if we are living an authentic life we may become frightened by what we discover. To put the correction in, some changes have to be made. The job we are working in may not suit us. Our house or community may not be right for us. How we’re using our leisure time may not be fulfilling. And some remodeling may need to take place in our family life and partnership.
While change has a component that is exciting, big changes can be frightening at the same time. What is even more terrifying is getting to the end of life, reflecting on our choices only to feel the regret of making choices to please others rather than making choices out of our own interests and values. For years, we may have been attempting to be the good kid conforming to our parents’ expectations. And then as an adult, we continued the pattern by striving to be the good student in college, the good wife, the good husband, the good parent and the good worker at our job. Others could have heavily defined these specifications of goodness.
If we don’t look inside to find out our deepest truth and find the courage to live out of that truth, we are living a life that others have dictated. They may mean well, but they don’t know exactly what will bring us greatest fulfillment. To the degree that we allow others to define our life we will be lacking energy and passion.
Taking back the power we have handed to others restores our freedom and vitality. If you are ready and motivated to take back your power, consider these tasks to restore authenticity:
- Examine past experiences to reframe each loss, trauma, and discouraging episode so that we know that we are not defined by our past even if it takes years to do so.
- Make a clear demarcation between the choices that have been made in our past to live up to other’s expectations as distinct form the choices we are making now that are true to our real self.
- Take ownership of emotional intelligence, common sense, natural talent, and skill-sets in order to trust that we can live a life of authenticity.
- Practice risking moving out of our comfort zone to step into the unknown to receive the reward of aliveness and excitement. The successes will motivate us to continue risking thereby growing even more courage.
- Congratulate ourselves for those changes that we make. Watch the evidence roll in that we are creating a different life, one that is tailor made to fit us.
- When people around us are alarmed by our changes and call us selfish, we can take their feedback as validation that our commitment to authenticity is working, trusting that we will have more to give the people in our life when we are real.
- Discover our unique and special gifts to give the world and get busy living our purpose.
- Quiet down the clucks of any chickens around us that might dissuade us from our newly found identity that we truly are an eagle.
When we live an authentic life, it is contagious to those around us. Our engagement with life will often inspire the people who are closest to us so that they are motivated to move in that direction as well. When both members of a couple unite in a commitment to support each other to be genuine, each can evolve into the best version of themselves and the relationship will flourish.