Finding and Cultivating Your Authentic Self

Jun 25, 2021 | featured

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Author, Attorney, Podcaster, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, and Creator of the World's Most Successful Breakup Program. 

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You (Hachette Book Group 2009)
  • Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup (Hachette Book Group 2015)
  • Getting Past Your Past Workbook: The Definitive Workbook to Emotional Healing, Health and Happiness (La Bella Vita Publishing 2012)
  • GPYP Power! Affirmations (La Bella Vita Publishing 2019) 


Backstory to this post: I wrote this post in 2006 – a year after the first blog started and two years before Michael got sick and three years before the book was published (getting a book published was still a bucket list item when I wrote this). I’m leaving the references to my life as it was that year and for most of the 15 years prior to that as I think it’s important.  

In Advanced Boot Camp, we open with the idea of becoming the person you were meant to be, or your “authentic self.”  When you get to the point in your program where you are ready for ABC, you have spent months, sometimes years,  discovering who and what you were meant to be – your likes and dislikes, your acceptables and unacceptables, your boundaries and standards – all this you learn in BBC and by reading the books and doing the work ih the workbook.  In other words, you have been discovering your authentic self. ABC teaches how to self-direct that authentic self and keep the magic going.  I’m now developing the bridge to that for the boot camp starting in mid-July – to get you to start thinking about it at the end of BBC so you’re more than ready for it when you hit ABC.

People sometimes balk that your authentic self is your innocent baby self….no, that’s not it. Your authentic self does include everything you survived.  What you survived and how you managed to get through is part of who you are deep inside. 

Every person has the ability to get through adversity. Some of us call it up and lean on it early in the process when we have NO CLUE what is going on. We weren’t taught this…it’s not the program doing the work…but the invincible part of every unique individual who says, “There has got to be a better way and I’ve got to find it…”  That “gift of desperation,” that “hitting bottom,” – what – in boot camp – we call the “dark night of the soul” is something that anyone who scratches and claws their way to the tools, the books, the whatever arsenal of material you used to begin your journey….is your authentic self.  The one who says, “No more…” is your authentic self.  The one who says, “I. Have. Had. Enough.” is your authentic self.  GPYB doesn’t build that or instill that or invent that in you…you’re born with that…and not everyone is….GPYB just teaches how to harness the crap out of it and make it work FOR YOU. 

The search for the Authentic Self is NOT to take away from the survival or the work you’ve done. It does NOT mean to return to a newborn state when you were somewhat of a blank slate. It’s more of moving all the dysfunction hoisted upon you by other people out of the way so you can be who you would have been (survival skills and all) without all that noise.

This is how we start to think about our “authentic self” and where it brings us.  What makes you you?  What have you never done that you always wanted to do (if you were truthful about it and didn’t let others’ opinions sway you?) What would add to your life?  What would make you (gasp!) HAPPY????  Anyway, here is the post from 2006.  Enjoy!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be” – George Sheehan

Each of us has a clue, somewhere deep inside, of what our life should really look like. Although there may have been a lot of setbacks, there are things we long for and things we think we would be if we were somehow born into another life, with different people, under different circumstances.

When I was a senior in high school I wanted to go onto college but my family did not support that idea. I wasn’t quite sure how to get from where I was to a college degree. Furthermore, I wanted a degree in English to which my adoptive father said was completely stupid. If I wanted to read and write, I should go to the library.

I went out with men who were not only physically abusive, but also verbally degrading and who also thought college was a dumb idea. Everything I wanted was a dumb idea.  Big, lofty ideas for things I would never have and goals I’d never achieve.  Who the HELL did I think I was????People told me, almost continually, that I wasn’t worth very much. And for a long time I believed it for the most part.

However, deep inside I had a small, very small, burning ember of a belief that I should be educated, successful and happy. Even though I really did not know what that looked that or felt like, part of me thought I was meant to be that.

I had to plow through a lot of unhealthy relationships and situations and leave my marriage before finding that ember and nurturing it.

I had to work through all the abuse I had sustained in my life. My abandonment by my birth mother, the loss of my birth brothers, the fact that I felt alone and misunderstood in the world.

I had to convince myself that just because your birth mother throws you away, that does not make you garbage. Just because nasty people abuse you does not make you worthless.

I had to pull up some kind of courage and belief in myself, to work past all the old messages and to find, in me, a will to believe that I could be anything I wanted to be.

BUT I wanted to be SO many things. I wanted to go to college for English, for Psychology, for Law, for Romance Languages. I wanted to be a therapist, a writer, a lawyer, a real estate agent, a speaker, a teacher. I wanted to travel to Europe and learn a new language, I wanted to learn to paint and take a photography course, I wanted to learn to crochet and make a pie, garden and buy a motorcycle and go on a long distance run across many states. I wanted to see London and Pompeii. I wanted to go to Venice and Rome. I wanted to live in California and then come home to New York City. I wanted to raise my children in a happy and healthy home.  I wanted to rid my life of all the toxic people and situations and one day find a man who would love me unconditionally. I wanted to have friends who got me, really got me.

Once I started to think about ALL the things I wanted to do, the list was so long!

I started my list about 3 years after I left my first marriage. It took me a year or so to really start to make progress on it, but today I have done everything on the list. I now have a new list now which includes publishing my book and continuing to motivate people and continuing to learn new things and build my life and meet new people.  Even though I’m happily married, I continue with my own interests, hobbies and friends.  That is IMPORTANT.

Today my life is happy and healthy. I have done all that I have set out to do and overcome all the obstacles of my early life. I’ve changed it all and have found the courage to add NEW things to my list like getting a book published by a major publisher (think it will happen guys? you’re the ones who push me about this!)

After I got in touch with who I thought I was meant to be and set out on a course to be that, I became willing to rid my life of anything and anyone who did not support me in my efforts to check off things on the list.  I used the GPYP (2021 note: in 2006, the program was still GPYP) method of affirmations – a very important step in list checking. I do my affirmations every single day. I do my gratitude list every single day. I continue to work through the wreckage of the past and I continue to plan for the future. I have boundaries and standards and things I absolutely WILL NOT put up with.  That is HOW you build a healthy life.  That is HOW you get past a devastating divorce and move on to a wonderful life and – if you want – or if someone crosses your  path – into a healthy and loving relationship with the best person you’ve ever met.

Today I am the person I was meant to be and I keep growing and changing. I use the tools I’ve been teaching in seminars and workshops and on this blog.  I am showing you how I did it and how I’ve taught A LOT of people, over the past 10 years, how to do it. It’s DOABLE and if I can do it, with where I come from, ANYONE can do it.  I don’t ask any of you to do anything I haven’t done. I teach this in classes and seminars and workshops in NYC and one day may be able to branch out to teach it beyond Manhattan’s borders. That’s another goal.

Today I have moved the nonsense out of the way to find my authentic self – and guess what? People like that person and I don’t know how to be anyone else.  I married a truly spectacular guy who fell in love with me because I am who I say I am (his words).  Before I started doing what I teach here, I wasn’t who I said I was. I didn’t know who I was. Not a clue.  But once I found out and started to encourage that person to COME OUT and say hi to the world, really terrific people started to respond.

No matter where you come from, no matter what has happened to you, it IS possible to have a whole new life. Believe in yourself, believe in the possibility of the impossible.


GPYB Summer 2021 Boot Camp Registration is NOW OPEN!!!! 

To find out all about our life-changing boot camp or to register, go to the bottom of this page and read the FAQ: GPYB Boot Camp website

The Mean Lady Talking podcast is BACK this week!  Season 3 continues….to hear, comment, question etc. go to YouTube for the latest episode – a 4 part MEGA episode on BOUNDARIES with the DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY –  HERE

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