Being Authentic in a System

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I want to make sure I take some time to explain something that I believe very firmly and want to make sure previous writings of mine are not misunderstood. 

As I have been contemplating the self and expression of self, I have discussed with you how our true selves can be stifled by the construct in which we grew up. Rigid rules and strict expectations to adhere to a specific set of rules, beliefs, etc (as well as straight out abuse/childhood trauma) can stunt or completely restrict the formation of self. Even if the genetics are not present for there to be mental illness within the self, there is a high likelihood of it forming due to the nurture perspective. 

Now, today’s society sometimes takes freedom of expression to the extent that it believes parents should allow their children complete freedom without any limits. This is not healthy. This creates a sense of entitlement and also hinders the formation of the self. It limits the self to feelings and emotions when there is so much more to self than those things. 

Healthy systems and parenting allows for choices but also sets limits and has a functional structure for teaching, instructing, and enforcing limits and boundaries. Healthy systems also provide love and nurturance and connection. These limits and boundaries, combined with love and connection, teach children that their identity is not in what they “should” be or what they “want” but in who they are. This gives them their own system in which to construct healthy values and beliefs.

Here are some examples of what freedom to express oneself looks like within a variety of constructs.

Let’s say your parents eat meat and you decide (as a child) to become a vegetarian or vegan. This is very important to you, as you have maybe formed a belief that it is wrong to eat animals. Your parents have the responsibility to consider your belief as well as their own beliefs and how they can reasonably accommodate you. Your parents may think it is a stage that you will grow out of, etc. But the healthy way for them to deal with this would be to discuss your desire and even give you choices on how to move forward. Let’s say they cannot financially support a fully vegan diet or do not have the means to learn how to raise a healthy vegan child (again, these are pretend scenarios). I believe that it would be important for the parent/child discussion to present the facts and give their child options. The fact in this case would be that they cannot afford to do this full time even though they would love to support you in this. So they present you with options of how many days per week they could afford it and ask you which days of the week you would like to eat this way. They could give you the choice to be vegetarian instead of vegan the rest of the days if it is financially feasible. But you have options and get to make choices within the means that your parents have to accommodate.

Another scenario to consider is parents with rules about certain types of language within the home. They have the right to ask you not to swear within their home. Maybe the genre of music you like has swearing in it. You and your parents may discuss your listening to said music away from the home. Or your parents may choose to support your style of music and introduce options to you that do not involve swearing. Depending on your parents belief system, they may choose one or the other and either would be appropriate for your freedom of self expression. This does not mean you cannot be yourself around your parents. This means that there is a thing you like that they feel differently about.

Yet another scenario would be allowing questions about the family system, belief, etc. Healthy parents allow questions and healthy doses of questioning. Inquisitive children typically have intricate minds that need to be met with nurture and confidence. (Confidence is not the same as arrogance, nor the same as forced conformity. Those are both fear based.) These healthy parents will stand on what they believe to be the truth while giving their child space to explore. In this phase of exploration, the child will test the boundaries of the system as well as their own beliefs until they find a place to settle. Healthy parents may grieve the choices their child has made, if they do not line up with their own, and they may not affirm their child’s choices but they will continue to love and support their child.

When children are not given these opportunities, they develop coping mechanisms that help them survive the rigid system in which they live; but ultimately these coping mechanisms will hinder them. These coping mechanisms become dysfunctional once they are no longer in the system where they developed, and can be crippling on a holistic level.

I feel it is time to talk about the Supportive Self Care with Art Integrations course we have coming up. This class is truly a one of a kind! Check out the image for full class description.

Register for the class here.

Don’t forget to share to social media to spread the word!

Let’s talk about the “self” for a moment. I discussed the self at length above in the general blog post. I know very well that this can easily get me into trouble within the Christian community. Because of this, I want to discuss this concept and you can make your own choice on the matter; but with a more full understanding to make that choice.

This, by the way, is part of what healthy discourse and disagreement are about. I know this topic from numerous directions and have made the choice to believe what I think honors God and His creation the most. You may believe differently, even after I have shared my firm convictions here. I welcome discussion about this in the comments below. As always, keep your comments gentle and healthy. Disagreement does not need to become forceful or argumentative. I delete those comments in order to keep this space safe for all, including the argumentative person. I believe that, when healthy boundaries such as this are drawn, people either learn to be gentler people more full of the true Spirit, or they walk away. All of this is your choice. I love you deeply.

With that said, let’s move into the topic of “self”. The psychology term self may have one meaning of its own, we look at it as the core personality that God designed when knitting each person together in his/her mother’s womb.

We are multi-layered beings that were designed and created by the Intelligent Designer, the Creator of all of the Universe. He had intent and purpose for our lives long before we were ever born. See Ephesians 2:10

Our jobs as Christians is to discover who God made us/me to be. What was the purpose He had in mind for us/me? What likes and dislikes do I have? What giftings did the Lord gift me with? How are those to be used in this lifetime?

If you are not one of God’s children, then the very first step to true discovery of self is to align yourself with the One who Created you. That can be a journey all its own. I would be happy to talk about that if you would like. I also offer Biblical Coaching where we specifically explore God and His Word as we dive into all of these things. If you are interested in talking more with me, go here to schedule a Discovery Session.

Newsletter Index:(click to jump to any of the following) Blog, Upcoming, Christian Corner, Comments

Be well, beautiful friends!

Kayleen Soden, Life & Wellness Coach


Published by Kayleen Soden INHC, CBHC, Wellness Coach

Hello there. My name is Kayleen Soden. I am a Wellness Coach. I love all things nature! I also enjoy time with my animals, books, and family.

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