Seeing his success, you wouldn’t think that Nathan Mansfield, Air Force veteran, Founder and CEO of Strong Physiquez, and creative entrepreneur didn’t love himself for most of his life, but he didn’t—until he discovered the power of vulnerability.
I was so impressed by his transformational story, that I invited Nathan to join me for a Relentless Courage interview to learn more. Mind you, Nathan is a warrior–literally—having served in the military for 13 years. Of course, the military culture is known for its stoicism, so I asked Nathan to share how he broke through that mentality to change his own life and open his heart.
Feeling Accepted isn’t the Same as Self-Love
Nathan was frequently picked on during his childhood, and as a teen he hung out with the “wrong” crowd to feel popular. To make up for his adolescent missteps, he went into the military and made a 180-degree change. He worked very hard, won a lot of awards, and received many accolades during his service.
When Nathan felt as though people accepted him it gave him the feeling of self-love, even though he didn’t really accept or love himself inside. He told me, “I masked my self-love with other people’s love.” When he retired from the military and worked as the CEO of his own company, there was no one praising his accomplishments—and he felt empty.
How Masks Betray Us
One of the more poignant moments during the interview was when he said,
“All the masks we wear around others causes an identity crisis within ourselves.”
I related so much to that!
The mask I wore for years was one of perfection so no one could see how broken I felt inside. All the effort I needed to put into my façade (the make-up, clothes and exercise) was exhausting, but I believed if people saw the real me, they could never love me.The mask I wore for years was one of perfection so no one could see how broken I felt inside… I believed if people saw the real me, they could never love me. Click To Tweet
Have you ever felt that way?
So many women and men struggle to truly believe they are good enough, so they compensate through achievements and outward appearances. Their masks are always on. But one of the best lessons I learned through my own healing process was that when my truth came out—and along with it the real me—people gravitated much more toward me.
My authenticity is what people liked—not my mask!
Sharing Stories Can Make a Difference
When Nathan decided to work on loving and accepting himself, it changed his life. He began taking better care of himself and spending quality time alone to meditate and read, along with other things he enjoyed doing. He said part of the process was like falling in love with a partner—except instead of a partner, it was himself. And this new-found self-love helped him take off his masks, crawl out of his shell, and show his authentic self to the world.
When he opened up and started sharing his story with others (including that he dealt with anxiety and depression), the love came back to him in spades. He learned he wasn’t alone, and he discovered how powerful and liberating vulnerability was.
When you start to love and embrace yourself for who you are, you experience a sense of wholeness; you feel more solid and comfortable in your own skin.
Ease into Vulnerability with These 5 Steps
I know a lot of people are afraid of being emotionally vulnerable—I used to fear it too! Sometimes the mere thought can make you feel defenseless. But the truth is, vulnerability is amazingly empowering.
Here’s how you can ease into it:
- It starts with self-compassion. Recognizing and honoring those hurt parts inside of yourself is a first step to loving yourself more.
- Start paying attention to the things you say to yourself. Are your words understanding and forgiving or are they cruel and belittling? Would you speak to a friend in the same way? Talk to yourself and the wounded child inside of you with kindness and support, rather than hurting your own feelings.
- Reach out and let others know about the real you. Sharing your story can help you see that you aren’t alone in your suffering. Others have problems too–maybe even the same ones!
- When you start to love and embrace yourself for who you are, you experience a sense of wholeness.You feel more solid and comfortable in your own skin.
- Sharing what you’ve been through helps others know they can get through their pain too. People aren’t going to judge you for having depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, or other problems. They are going to connect with your authentic self and applaud your courage to be vulnerable.
We all have similar problems and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Talking about yours helps you and helps others. Pain shared is pain divided.
Check out more of my Relentless Courage interviews on my YouTube channel and order my new memoir, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer.
If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 844-818-0616 or visit our contact page here.