I want to share a bit of my personal story and the pilgrimage of learning authenticity. I hope it inspires you to live more authentic in your life. Living authentically has inspired me to change my last name for my business. My new name is Renee Jayne. Renee Heigel no longer felt real for me.
If you want to know the why behind it all, keep reading.
My purpose here is to guide people to their own empowerment and truth of who they deserve to be. Authenticity is an important part of that empowerment and truth. So if you are someone who has areas of your life where you do not feel real or where your energy is draining, I hope this helps you today.
Authenticity teaches us to recognize and trust our feelings, all of them. The ups, downs and ugly cries in between. Being authentic shows you how to act in a way that is consistent with your values.
It’s about being real. You know, as a opposed to fake. I have lived both ways in my life and each were learned behaviors. If we can learn it, we can unlearn it.
This blog isn’t about how to learn how to understand your language of emotions, that is the work I do with my clients and it is way more than I can share here.
So where do we begin?
We can start with giving ourselves permission to feel and be uncomfortable. We can choose to become more authentic and real in our relationships. The first step is awareness to where you are being inauthentic.
The real and authentic self is cultivated from being exposed to life’s tough and happy moments. When I learned I would become a mother in 2008, I was having a tough time in my relationship and I knew that I wanted to learn to be more emotionally connected, honest and real in my life.
Someone I was close to asked me the question, “Renee, are you happy?” Here I was, newly pregnant and enjoying it but when I answered her question, out of my mouth came these words, “No, I’m not happy.” I was shocked by my own answer. I was so used to hiding, putting a smile on my face, saying my affirmations and unconsciously disguising my true feelings, that I was surprised by my own truth.
It felt good to share so honestly.
I got to thinking, when did I stop being honest with my true feelings? When did I start hiding? And why did I think I had to?
The paradox of “happy” is that none of us are happy all the time. Nor would we want to be. I think our culture misleads us with this idea, especially in the United States.
When we have darker moments, they make room for the brighter ones to shine so much more.
I used to work for this company that often said the slogan, “we’re liv’n the dream”. I bought into that idea with every dollar I had in the bank and what it meant for me was that when things weren’t going well, I wasn’t worthy, good or important. I bought into this fairytale of life where everything had to be perfect or the dream was dead. When I wrote in my journal, at the time, it was in affirmations, dreams and goals. What was missing was the real, low down dirty truth of how I was feeling.
The reality is that life is hard at times. It throws us challenges. Most of my life has been filled with uphill climbs and massive lessons that I’ve had to grow from.
I made a decision that I was going to be vulnerable with myself and open up. I would be honest with myself about all the feelings and emotions. I would start in my journal and would write about reality. I wanted more of this authenticity stuff and I knew I had to feel to get there.
Renee is the name my father chose for me. He named me after the song, “Walk Away Renee”. Written for the band the Left Banke in 1966 and it later became a hit with the Four Tops. I always liked this name and the song. I’m grateful he chose it for me.
Renee also means “rebirth”. It’s not just the meaning I like, I believe rebirth is possible for everyone and everything. Humans are always changing.
Jane, my middle name, is my mothers first name and she gave this to me. My mother gave me the gift of life. She has taught me about human nature. Our relationship has inspired me to learn deeply about the language of emotions. The meaning of Jane is, “God is gracious”.
When I came into this world, I started out as Renee Jane Bauer. By age 5 or 6, my quiet demeanor was identified as “shy” by adults. I spent hours most days, at a table, drawing pictures, creating and building. Completely content being alone, I didn’t feel shy on the inside, I had a powerful voice and ideas in there that I could hear. Then my parents were getting a divorce and the feelings happened. Then the walls formed around me and I used my play time as a way to numb what I didn’t understand how to feel.
I believe many of us do this as children. Some trauma occurs and we stop feeling. We aren’t taught how.
As a child, I learned coping skills to shut down my feelings. Many of us learned these tools… because living a fairy tale seems easier than facing challenge, at the time. Parents don’t always want to discuss hard things with kids because they want to protect them. Just think about it, based on your culture, upbringing or family values, you likely have all kinds of ways you’ve been taught about feeling emotions. We are taught to stop feeling emotions or we are taught to hide them, cover them up or keep them in camouflage so we can manage in the world. We were taught that emotions are for “sissy’s” and make us weak.
Years later, I would abuse food, sugar, smoking, relationships and work to help me numb the range of emotions and feelings I had going on daily.
I believe authenticity is rooted in a language of emotions and feelings. You start to learn to trust that these will guide and take care of you.
We all have an inner genius hidden within our feelings and emotions because it is our native language. The problem is that for so many of us, including myself, we didn’t know this language existed or how to use it.
The best way to pilot our way in this world is through being honest about our emotions. The alternative, at least for me, was a belief that unless I was joyful or happy something was wrong with me and I needed to be fixed.
But we aren’t broken! We don’t need to be fixed.
As I grew into a young woman, I allowed my need to “be liked” to be stronger than my truth. I started to seek acceptance and approval from others outside of myself.
Deep down, I thought I was broken. I believed that I needed to be perfect to be accepted and loved.
I bought into the cultural ideas that “crying is for the weak”, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, “I don’t have anything to be angry about” and “I should just be happy”.
The tough girl persona emerged. I was the girl who didn’t cry in movies or have time for all that feeling stuff. I didn’t understand that being unhappy, angry, confused or sad were normal feelings so I shamed myself for them.
As a teenager, I learned to stopped honoring my creativity and intellect. I began to distrust my instincts.
I ended up attracting a job and a new relationship soon after. This environment matched up with my current reality where I lacked of confidence and had a desire to belong. I was so gullible back then.
The new job and soon the new relationship seemed exciting. There were new friends who had goals. Looking back, it gave me a sense of security and meaning while also giving me a way to numb out the uncomfortable feelings I was having at that time.
This created a real disconnection with my real needs.
Self-deception is the worst kind of deception because it is how we end up on a path in life that doesn’t feel authentic and real to who we are.
Now I was hiding behind my workaholism and a new man. I ended up getting married four years later.
I took his name. Further losing my identity and never once trusting the initial feelings I had to keep my own sense of self and name. I owned that new name for 9 years and another 4 after divorce. As a devoted mother and private person, I won’t share much about the dissolution of my marriage, the divorce and years that followed with exception to this:
It was the most challenging growth experience I have had to date and now that I’m on the other side, the most powerful. I learned to leave my victim identity behind and reconnect to my mission, intuition and Self. My emotions became my best teachers. I rediscovered my self esteem. I have no regrets for my son or for myself.
Manny is kind hearted, funny, tender and deep. It is important that he grows up experiencing the best version of his mother as my most empowered, empathic self. Teaching him to use his voice and how to discern and empathize in this world requires me to continue growing in my authenticity too.
During this time, my business, Love Yourself Naked®, was also birthed… I learned lessons in vulnerability, addiction, trust and honesty. Nakedness meant living in reality. I had no other choice but to live so I could speak my truth and evolve authentically. I built this entire Love Yourself Naked® business through advocacy for health: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
For the past couple of years, my last name has stirred up thoughts and a range of emotions that I allowed myself to process and feel.
I kept Heigel as my last name post divorce for 2 reasons. First, it was the name I build my entire business around. I had spent 7+ years putting my blood, sweat and tears into creating this coaching practice, programs and online identity with a purpose to help people get healthy. I have been known as “Renee Heigel” for so long that there are a lot of people who actually think Heigel is my maiden name. Second, my son’s last name is Heigel too. It’s been important to me that we have matching names, until now.
I’ve asked for advice from people I trust and I meditated on it. I’ve heard answers from people, usually stemming from the fear of change that I was projecting outward. They mentioned my “personal brand in business” or “my credibility” or “all my work would be lost” or “my online identity” won’t match anymore.
These were valid points. I had a decision to make: Stay with the name that I have outgrown or rename and cast aside the 7+ years of a business identity I worked hard to build.
I chose the latter.
Now that I have evolved and stripped myself naked of so many of the identities that I once carried, I know that my safety, creativity and freedom manifests from within my ability to feel it all.
This value of learning my emotional language means knowing myself so well that I don’t need others to make me feel important or validated.
This I know to be true: People know me because of my reputation and for how I make them feel when I show up in life.
It’s also important that I identify with a surname, something that is distinctive to who I am in the world now.
I chose to use “Jayne” as my last name. It’s a combination of my middle name and I’ve added the “Y” so it’s fully mine. There is more symbolism here that I will keep to myself.
An Urban Dictionary favorite:
“Jaynes are usually wildly intelligent and crafty. Likely to take over the world using robot ninja powers and cunning. I am Jayne, ruler of the universe”
In all seriousness and in celebration, I would like to re-introduce myself to you.
My name is Renee Jayne. (It feels super weird to say at first for me too… maybe we can get used to it together and take our time with it? What do you say?)