Tap into the Chameleon Energy
Have you ever struggled with finding the balance between showing up authentically on one hand, but not wanting your whole, complex and multifaceted (often messy) self to be on show, on the other? Have you ever felt you have to be ‘inauthentic’ to stay safe and protect yourself? Has masking made you question who you can show up as?
I love chameleons and have been fascinated by them my whole life; I was once described as having chameleon-like energy, and I took it as a direct complement, thinking that they are highly observant, intelligent and beautiful. Many years later I realise that perhaps it wasn’t meant as a compliment - many people have opposing views of the chameleon - sometimes they are seen as untrustworthy; an analogy for fickleness, and inconsistency. But we can actually draw huge inspiration from the medicine of the chameleon who has intrinsic camouflage and shape-shifting skills, to learn how to adapt and engage with our changing environments. It isn’t that the chameleon is being manipulative, it has simply assessed how to show up in its environment so it will be perceived in a way it intends.
If we transpose this medicine onto our own lives as humans living in society, the chameleon is teaching us that sometimes showing up authentically can look like carefully observing your environment, and making intentional choices about how to show up.
When we find ourselves in any new environment the most important question to ask ourselves is; in which ways is it safe to be seen, and second; how does it benefit us to be seen? The answers to these questions can and should change depending on where you are and who you are with. Being authentic does not mean revealing everything about oneself all at once. You are empowered to decide who sees what, when and in which ways.
It can be difficult to show up as one's authentic self when we are neurodivergent and/or from another marginalised community. We have to do extra work to get to know our true selves; selves that likely have had to be hidden for our own safety. As we become more conscious and in touch with ourselves; who we are, what we need and desire, it becomes easier to trust our inner compass to guide us. This inner compass will tell us which parts of ourselves we can reveal to people and what parts need to remain hidden, or private…for now.
My own previous experience of social situations was so draining because I didn’t understand I could actually show-up authentically yet also selectively. It took me a while but I eventually realised I could decide how I present certain parts of myself and my life in ways that I felt happy to reveal, and keep other parts of myself safe. What I was choosing to present was still authentic but it now felt safe and beneficial to me. I was back in control. Being able to tap into the chameleon medicine and energy was a crucial part of the journey.
Those of us assigned female at birth and socialised as women are conditioned to believe that everything about ourselves is in service of others. This conditioning is a battle that we face throughout our lives. We are taught that we have to think of how others feel first and offer our resources before caring for ourselves. We have to reject this idea and recognise that everything we are, all the multiple gifts and skills, compassions and kindness is for ourselves first.
Remember, you don't have to be palatable to anyone, but choosing how you’re perceived is a power-move. There’s a difference between performing social norms (masking) and intentionally showing facets of your authentic self in ways that suit different environments. It's more important to anchor yourself to your authentic self and show up in the way that feels right and good to you. It may not be easy, but it will lead to greater integrity and ultimately, a sense of safety.
The point is not to hide yourself but to be discerning about who gets to see certain elements of who you are, especially when it comes to emotional intimacy, which requires that extra layer of vulnerability. As trust is built then deeper layers of ourselves can be shown.
Allow yourself to be the chameleon today. Take power and decide what parts of yourself you are willing to share. Know how you want to be perceived and authentically share parts of yourself you feel safe and know will be beneficial to you.
Let me know if this resonates with you.
This was drawn from a full masterclass in SLU! If you find these discussions useful or inspiring, and you want access to more in-depth analysis and actionable practices drawn from them, join the Spiritual Life Upgrade!