“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”― C.G. Jung
What does it mean to be “Authentic”?
As a Society, we’ve been using the word “authenticity” a lot lately, and I feel like it may be losing its definition, or gaining another one… What is it to be “authentic”?
Let’s look it up:
- of undisputed origin; genuine…
For me, authenticity has a lot to do with what I mean by “Luminance”: being who you really are, no apologies, no holding back, or being only who you are “expected” to be, but who you actually are. (However, “acting out” in destructive ways, is largely an effect of being inauthentic.)
There are lots of books, philosophies, authors, and religions aimed at understanding the question: “who am I?” The shorter list may be in outlining who you are “not”. The concepts below are likely to scare your “saboteur” who may want to shut you down. Please do your best to keep an open mind… Here are just a few things that you are not:
- Your feelings. You feel your feelings, but if you were essentially defined as “angry”, or “sad”, or even “happy”, or “joyous”, then you would always be “angry” or “sad, with no other way of being. You are not your feelings because you can observe yourself having them, or not having them.
- Your thoughts. You think your thoughts, you have and observe your thoughts, you laugh at, share or hide your thoughts, expand or contract and sometimes feel, them, you even change your thoughts, but you are not your thoughts.
- Your gender. This is a tricky one, but stay with me. There are those who are born as “inter-sexuals”; hermaphrodites who have the genitalia of both male and female. As we tend to define ourselves by our gender, societally we are uncomfortable with this seeming paradox so we usually “gender assign” these children at birth. However, they exist as entirely themselves, regardless of how some, likely well intended, person decided they “should” be. No one is “defined” by their gender. We may resonate, or connect, more with feminine or masculine energy, but it isn’t “who we are“.
You exist above, below, around, in and through all of these attempts to define “you”. You observe all of the above, and the unique way you express it comes from you. No one else brings together all of these aspects, and expresses all of these features in precisely the way you do. Only you.
How do you know you’re being “you”? Naturally, this will be subjective. When I am fearful, insecure, self-recriminating, awkward or judging… I know I’ve gotten lost inside the stories I am telling myself about what is “true”, and I am responding from my Saboteur. I need to get back to the present, to this moment so I can be as authentically “me” as possible.
When I feel at peace within myself, present, listening, seeing, and connected to everything, inwardly quiet and receptive while conscious of participating with the whole, simply present, I know I am “me.” When I respond from my heart, as honestly as I can, listening to, and beneath, the words to the emotion communicated… not anticipating what I’m going to say, or say wrong, but simply hearing and responding, speaking and being with; when I am in that place I feel I am my authentic self. Do I live there 24/7/365? I wish! But I’m working towards it all the time…
Here are a few thoughts you may not have had around this:
- The less authentic you are, the less encouraged others feel to be authentic. This is because, the more authentic you are, and willing to appear “vulnerable”, the more others feel comfortable enough to allow their true selves to emerge to meet yours.
- The more of your Self you share, the more we all get to learn about our Selves as well as you.
- The more you hold yourself back, the less people get to know the real you, the less you get to feel whole and complete and valuable.
There is often a perceived vulnerability associated with being authentic. The truth is, no one can damage your essence when you are your most true; they can only hurt your “image of yourself”. You are only vulnerable when you have something to uphold. There are no appearances to maintain, no falsehoods or expectations to fulfill or to anticipate, beyond respect for yourself and others…
When we are stripped bare of our pretenses, we are left more whole than we could imagine.Consider this:
[pullquote]What if you needed to confront a wild animal with your wits, how would you approach it? Showing fear would probably get you attacked as would “false bravado”. You would have to get really present, slow your breathing, attune your every sense to this moment, and no other. With your focus upon the animal, vulnerable, with no space for pretense or fear, you would be able to notice that it feels threatened by you. That’s why it’s growling and cowering! To befriend the animal you will need authentic courage…[/pullquote] Now… I propose that this wild, frightened animal is the part of you yearning to be known. It’s that authentic part of you:
- who has been boxed in, and cutoff for fear of being seen, caught being genuine;
- without which you are only a shadow of who you could be;
- that represents much that is interesting, unique, magical and wonderful about you;
- that has gifts to offer the world; gifts that we all so desperately need.
Isn’t it time to go in after that part of yourself and draw it out into the light so all of us can admire your brilliance? Your Luminance? Trust me… it’s in there. I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t have inner Luminance enough to shine brightly in the world. It just gets buried under layers of challenge, and fear, and pain: held captive by your Saboteur.
So, what’s the unique expression of you? What do you hold back for fear that others will judge you? What would you be saying or doing differently if you were being more of your true self? Where do you stop to avoid appearing vulnerable?
Please, share your thoughts on Authenticity in the Discussion Section found on the bottom of the page. What does Authenticity mean to you?