Authenticity and Stress | you are healthiest when you are your real self | “don’t plant corn in the sand”


If you plant corn in the sand it probably is not going to grow very well… it will struggle… it will experience stress which will strain its’ ability to survive… simply put it will be unhealthy. The same is true for humans… If you pretend to be someone that you are not and continually put yourself into setting and situations which are unfit for your true self to be nurtured and expressed, you, like the corn in the sand, will experience stress and strain that will deplete your health.

Most all of us have found ourselves in settings in which we had to refrain from presenting ourselves with pure honesty… we will say what the group wants to hear… dress as the group desires us to costume ourselves… and we will avoid those emotional expressions that have been labeled as unfit for the setting.

Allow yourself to imagine such a situation in which you chose to restrain aspects of your true self – perhaps this happened on a family vacation, a job interview, while in the company of a group that was novel to you, while at an event with set etiquette and rituals, while visiting a different culture and/or country…

In small doses these experiences can foster important growth such as dialectic maturity or open-mindedness. Yet if you are always catering to the expectations of your surrounding then when do you get to present your true self?

Many people compromise authenticity so often that their true self remains almost invisible in their day to day lives.  People will start to have expectations of you that are based on a false self.

This issue is one of the main reasons that people seek out my support and guidance… they are uncomfortably stressed as they spend all their energy in meeting the expectations of others and are left with no energy to nurture their true selves…

The big problem is that often meeting other people expectations makes absolutely no one happy as the expectation was simply coming from another person’s false self.

Ask the average person what an ideal week would look like… then ask them what their week actually looked like. You will find that we all have a strange tendency to prioritize meeting objectives that are not particularly fulfilling.


Many people will answer “money”… and this is sometimes at least partially true for some people…

Some people might find that they would have plenty of money if they only used their money on that which was truly important to their authentic self…

In other words, many of us work too much so as to acquire enough money to buy things that help us to meet some external expectation (we upgrade perfectly good TV’s computers, phones etc., we buy accessories to fit in, we lease cars that have abilities that we never use, we move into more expensive houses though we already had plenty of space, we remodel aesthetically beautiful spaces, we need a new tie or pair of shoes for every event etc.)

How would you express yourself if you were to express yourself honestly with those closest to you?

What activities would you engage in if you did not have to worry about other people’s judgments or expectations?

What is the career you would find most fulfilling if you were freed of meeting some external priority?

How much money would you have if you were able to get back all the money that you spent on things that you don’t truly care about?

How long can you live this life of pretend and restraint?

I am not suggesting that your throw caution to the wind and give yourself freely to your animal instincts… I am suggesting that you let your spirit guide you in a way which is compassionate to yourself and to others.

If you do not nurture yourself you will not have the energy to nurture those around you.

Restraining yourself causes significant stress and anxiety… free your authentic self for your health.

Though others may judge you as you are no longer fitting in the box that you were assigned to, you will have gained health, happiness, confidence and strength.

The truth is that it is normal in the USA to be stressed, unhappy, and unhealthy… so maybe it is not best to follow along with the social expectations that seem to be causing this country to be quantifiably more stressed and depressed than other countries.

Perhaps your authenticity will be contagious… and you will be the seed that spreads health to those who come in contact with you…

You are the you that you are supposed to be… allow yourself to have the humility to let yourself be as you truly are.

Honest emotional expression is just that… honest… so what is the opposite that we all have decided to practice and why is restraining emotions better?

I understand that restraint is the norm and as a social animal we all desire to fit in, to be accepted, and to be loved.

If authenticity is to become the new norm it must start with someone… what will you teach your friends and family about authenticity and restraint?

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Authentic Self – Are you the work you or the outside of work you?


Quick Summary – Perhaps to increase your happiness in all areas of your life it is best to be as authentic or honest as possible. We suffer when we resist a part of ourselves. To have your ideal vocational environment perhaps it is best to find a place where you can displays all sides of yourself… ultimately this should be to the benefit to all those you serve.

I was reading a great book the other day about marketing my private therapy practice and the author had me visualize my ideal practice. The process brought up a very interesting question for me being … will the fact that I am a musician turn off some potential therapy clients? Is there a stereotype or at least a held construct about what a therapist should be which does not include musical expression? The question encouraged me to look at the various stereotypes about being a musician and contrast them with the stereotypes surrounding being a ‘good’ therapist. In honesty I was at a loss… I could not decide if it would be ‘best’ for me to remove all information and mediums from the web that labeled me as a musician.

            Walking down the hall of one of my old schools I bumped into and started a conversation with a very wise classmate (who is also a therapist) that I have immense respect for… I relayed the dilemma and she responded that it was perhaps most important that I be authentic. I then arrived at this answer to my question…

I could resist a part of myself in order to be more congruent with a social construct surrounding what an ideal therapist is, but the truth is that that would not be authentic, it would lead me to create a practice that was not ideal, and the resistance would have been based on assimilating to an objectivity that likely doesn’t exist as everyone’s definition of ‘good’ is infinitely different. Therefore I choose to be authentic and say that I am a good therapist and I am a musician.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.