“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” ― May Sarton
What is authenticity? Can we ever be fully authentic?
I have been contemplating these questions since reading Who Are You? A Primer on Defining What You Stand For.
Authenticity is not necessarily easy because we’ve all been programmed in one way or the other: to please, to get ahead, or even to fail. Thus, even when we strive to be conscious, we may respond habitually to a person or situation. These habitual patterns are deeply embedded in our brain, and, some would say, in our intricate cellular memory.
For example, I sincerely advocate kindness. Am I always kind? No, I confess, I’m not. I’m human, I’m fallible just like you. I would bet very few of us are able to perfectly match our ideals and actions.
Be Relentless in Your Pursuit of Authenticity
Although it’s challenging to be continually authentic, we can get closer if we are committed and relentless in our pursuit of presence and coherence. And, I think it’s very important that we strive to do so. Why? Because living in integrity makes life so much easier for both you and those around you. Living in integrity will change the world.
It turns out to be just the opposite from what you might imagine. You might fear rejection if you follow your inner promptings. That could happen, but ironically, it won’t matter as much. Because, the more you are true to yourself, the more you will feel, as the French say, “well in your skin.” You will feel more at ease, content, complete, and good about yourself. The more you are true to yourself, the more you will want to be true to yourself.
But this is not an egotistical pursuit. The closer you will get to your true self, the more you will find kindness and compassion.
Let's be honest though, it takes time to erode away the conditioning, and consistently express what’s true for you. Those who operate on automatic may not even be aware of the disparity, but a certain tension always accompanies them.
Being authentic takes courage. It means:
- Getting quiet and listening to your deepest self.
- Observing your patterns; the ones that obstruct authenticity.
- The willingness to continually practice being true to yourself.
- Being honesty with yourself and others.
- Striving to be congruent in your words and actions.
- Accepting your foibles, and loving yourself anyway.
Authenticity may be a buzzword often used these days in marketing as well as personal development, but that doesn't make it any less essential. The commitment to authenticity is one of the most important steps you will ever take towards finding true happiness and freedom.
Becoming Who You Truly Are
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ― C.G. Jung
Learning to be authentic is a continuing, perhaps even lifelong process. Your true self may only speak in whispers, while your conditioned self screams at top volume. The voice of your authentic self may float quietly at the edge of your consciousness barely perceptible unless you are intent on hearing. Your inner critic may dominate, or your insecure child may throw a tantrum sweeping you into confusion and distress.
You will need to peel away many layers of conditioning to find and express your true self. There will be many times when you stray from the path of authenticity. This is par for the course. What matters is that you recognize the pattern and return to your true self as soon as you can. This will prevent many forms of adversity from taking place.
To find your true self, you must continually follow the thread of your inner voice, skillfully distinguishing between egoistic lures and true wisdom. Ultimately, you will discover there's no permanent self to be found. Just a continuing awareness watching the ever-changing display of mind and life.
What are your thoughts about authenticity?
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra
Image: Michael Gabler