The phrase of the decade “truly authentic”. So overused, it’s become cliché. And yet this phrase resonates, representing an innermost desire to “just be ourselves”. Because so many people, who appear to have it all, are miserable inside! Trapped by expectations that others “impose” upon them.
If you are one of the many, you may feel you are simply fulfilling roles and stereotypes that have left you frustrated and unfulfilled. Or perhaps, you feel happiness is lightyears away.
So many books promise to “teach” you how to be authentic, and courses to “get authentic”. As if it were something that you could buy or acquire. This language, to my mind, is confusing.
If you are truly yourself – would this not be more peeling off of the layers that mask who you really are and showing the real you? To learn authenticity would be to learn to be vulnerable once again.
Or as Cindy Lauper might sing “I see your true colours, shining through.”
The inauthentic life – why we hate it!
When we get caught up, living inauthentically, we find ourselves being an imitation of what we think we should be or what we have been told we are to be.
For example, you were told to play nice – so kindness becomes an obligation. There is no longer room for choice or respect. This kindness no longer feels true, but rather comes from a place of dishonesty and may even feel immoral. You no longer say what you mean. Over time, you build up a feeling of being out of touch with who you really are.
Or perhaps you have been told that in order to be loved and accepted, you have to act in a certain way. So, you say “yes” to things you really wanted to say “no” to, but feel you have no choice.
Perhaps this is a belief system, learned in childhood or from your social circles – are they really your own?
By playing the victim, you have permission to say “I have no choice”. And by giving away your power, you justify no longer hold yourself accountable. You can easily say, in this situation, “It’s not my fault” or “I have no responsibility”.
But that’s not entirely true, is it?
Out of touch with yourself
In spite of this self-talk and belief from the past, the present has been ruined if you are no longer in touch with yourself. Because of this, you are left feeling hollow, with contrived patterns of behaviour that allow you to avoid loss.
Some of the behaviours that can be exhibited when you are living an inauthentic life include:
- Procrastination, putting off or avoiding certain tasks or even relationships. It may be fear that is driving you – or perhaps uncomfortable emotions that you don’t wish to process or even acknowledge. At the same time, procrastination can be simply an avoidance of confrontation.
- Judgment – when you find yourself getting snarky and irritable with others, because of your own insecurities. If you got honest with yourself, you would notice your resentment, and this could shine a light on what is really missing.
- Putting yourself last – neglecting your self-care, because you are too busy people-pleasing. As you allow your unhealthy boundaries and relationships to grow, resentment also grows and flourishes.
- Glossing over the “bad” emotions, as you push them down, bottle them up and swallow them!
- Rather than owning your current situation, you find excuses and justifications – because otherwise, you would have to get brutally honest and vulnerable with yourself!
What does “authentic” look & feel like?
While genuine authenticity is “just be yourself” – this comes from being real within. From truly knowing yourself.
Authentic people demonstrate congruence between their actions & words and their beliefs & values. There is an internal alignment between “what I hold important” and everything that this person will think, feel, say and do. Sounds impossible? No – but it does take effort and consistency.
When your inner wisdom aligns with outer actions, priorities change. Once you recognise what is important to you, you ensure your choices reflect that importance.
This comes from knowing that there is no “should” in “authentic”!
For example, an authentic person will give generously from the heart, rather than from obligation or pity. He or she will not give because “they should”, but simply from the overflowing of gratitude and abundance that he or she has in their heart.
Owning your reality & emotions
When you are authentically you, there is a place for owning the reality you have, facing the fears, and being courageous. This means being real and finding out what is real – what emotions are real and what lies below them, what thoughts and patterns of thinking you continue to repeat, and stopping the ones which are not serving you.
Mastering authenticity allows a person to show emotional intelligence in different types of situations because they have mastered themselves.
Eating is simply pleasurable – once again – with no “should”s. When you are aligned within, you no longer have to eat your emotions. While it may be hard to master, initially, it is possible to return to a place of total choice, where you choose to eat and drink in alignment with your body and physical hunger, rather than using food to satisfy different cravings.
Being in this place of “truly you” allows you to find inner happiness, contentment, and peace.
The importance of being authentic
If we look at statistics, society is showing that more people are increasingly stressed, depressed or anxious. When we look closely, they are living with a lot of “shoulds” in their lives. I shouldn’t feel this way; I should get up earlier; I should be a better parent… the list goes on.
Unhappiness arises when you are trying to be someone else – when you fail to accept that you already are you. Typically, what happens is that you are trying to simply express a part of yourself and not the whole. For example, you are working on your mindset, but failing to acknowledge and honour your emotions.
“If I just tried harder to master my mindset, I would be okay.”
On the other hand, you might be the kind of person that follows your heart, in pleasing another person, but fail to set healthy boundaries and take care of yourself.
Authenticity can only exist when we accept the whole of what we are – mind, body, emotions, spirit. When all of these roll into action, together, then you feel aligned and congruent.
When we have “found ourselves” – differences in relationships no longer frighten or challenge us, because we do not need to judge others. We stop needlessly hurting others because we are no longer in pain. Authenticity gives us the opportunity to build relationships with others who are attracted to our openness, confident in ourselves. Relationships are built on honesty and allowing each other to simply be who they are. When you challenge someone to be better – it will be a better version of them – not to live up to your expectations.
Inauthentic lives can literally be making you sick. When you bottle up anger, resentment, and frustration, it overflows and shows up somewhere else. Your thoughts and emotions impact your wellbeing, and eventually your health and physiology. You might find yourself constantly tired, burnt out even, trying to keep up with expectations and other people’s standards. People-pleasing eventually wears you down with resentment and self-doubt.
Living with purpose, on the other hand, allows you to know the difference you make in the world. Your individual brand of generosity and giving.
An authentic person will eat better, because they don’t resort to cravings, spending and eating to replace what’s really missing in their life.
If I could only choose one reason to live authentically it would be this: being authentic allows you to take the lead in your life. When you are living authentically, you no longer have to keep the beat of someone else’s drumming – you get to choose the rhythm that you dance to!
Finding your authenticity
In your journey to inner wisdom, I invite you to live from the inside out. Allow your true colours to shine through – opening up and showing more of yourself.
Transform your approach to life from a place where life happens to you – and become the person that happens to life!
Coaching can fast-track you to this place. With mBraining (Soosalu & Oka), you can learn to start from the heart. You know how people say – I don’t know how to choose – should I follow my heart or listen to my gut? I don’t know what I think… With mBraining – that “I have to choose my heart or doing the right thing” disappears. You don’t have to choose between your brains or wisdom centers. Ideally, you should be using ALL of them, all of the time.
Coming from a place of deep compassion, for yourself and for others, you can explore self-awareness. This may include looking closely at your self-imposed limits. Perhaps you were taught certain beliefs or behaviors about feelings, thoughts or needs. Begin to explore all parts of yourself – even the not-so-pretty parts you have been glossing over.
If we look, for example, at people-pleasing – and what you need from each intelligence center (brain):
- Heart-brain – loving yourself and others. Compassion does not operate from “should” or a sense of obligation. Learn to acknowledge your feelings – are you feeling boxed in and pressured? Do you feel resentment? What do you need to acknowledge?
- Head-brain – learning to silence the inner critic and the monkey mind, and instead channeling all that creativity and analysis into creating what you want and desire. You have so much to offer the world – it’s not worth spending all that mental energy on worry and imagining or visualizing the worst-case scenario. Put that creativity to use!
- Gut-brain – you need healthy boundaries, where you clearly identify Me/Not-Me. How can you build safety and security – where your self-confidence has a place to flourish and you find the motivation to move forward?
Perhaps it’s time to face the fear of knowing your personal truth – that you need to change your status, a relationship or even part of your very own labels about identity. This personal truth may even include losing a perception or perspective that you have become attached to, as you recognize that it is doing more harm than good in your life.
Likewise, it is time to start looking at those habitual neural pathways that take you on auto-pilot throughout your day and your interactions with others. Are these habits truly serving your highest interest?
With inner wisdom comes emotional intelligence and self-awareness. As you are present in your feelings and emotions – where in your body do you sense those emotions the most? Let’s be real – you don’t “feel it” in your head! You process emotions in your head. You feel them in various parts of your body!
Once you’ve acknowledged those feelings, you can work on naming/identifying and then processing them. What typical thought patterns arise when you are feeling this way? Is there a particular trigger or cycle that you pass through?
This deep awareness of your mental state and emotions opens the possibility for change – for developing personally into a more authentic self. Not a static being – but continually growing and changing, being present with who you are at this moment, and knowing that you are still becoming.
Most importantly, it gives you the choice of releasing the emotions and then choosing to act appropriately. Not as you “should” because you feel obliged – but the freedom to choose how you want to express yourself from that place of awareness. This is who I am and how I want to be – not reacting to the world and stimuli. You can consciously choose how you want to interact with others and with the world around you.
As you learn to listen to all your inner wisdom – the “different voices” from your heart, head, and gut – you find that you have a much deeper inner wisdom. You will find you can simultaneously:
- acknowledge your emotions and honour them;
- think things through carefully, create solutions & plans that are logical and have analysed all aspects of the situation; and
- paid careful attention to your gut instinct, taking care of your safety, security & need for self-preservation.
An authentic life is that magical point of intersecting – where you are true to all of you – living from the inside out!
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8 thoughts on “Truly authentic- authenticity – what does it mean?”
This reminds me of a poem I wrote entitled “The Difference is Me.” However it also reminds me of another poem I wrote in which I expressed the frustration of dealing with other’s expectaions.
You really gave me a lot to think about in regards to being authentic.
I hadn’t considered that part of how I live is oftentimes obligatory more than genuine love and care. A reset of motives is in need.
I don’t know about you, but I find obligatory so exhausting.
It’s as if that drains my energy in a way that genuine doesn’t
This was such an amazing post! I think we all get too wrapped up in the world and forget who we really are. There are so many social situations where you can’t act like yourself, and sometimes you just stop being who you are. It’s hard to meet in the middle in real life and who you are deep down. It’s something I’m still working on, but I feel like I’m getting better at it 🙂 This was such an informative and in depth post! I felt like I really learned from it. Thank you!
Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com
Thank you so much Emily!
Beautiful writing Beth! I enjoyed reading your views on authenticity. -Jenni
Awesome article about authenticity. I really appreciated your take on what it actually feels like to be authentic.
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