Who are you when you are your authentic self, when you are true and real?
The voice of our honest self can always be heard if we are willing to hear it. How often do we actually tune into it?
Are there people with whom we choose to be different? Are there situations in which we become somebody else to fit in and belong?
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We are not always our authentic selves. It varies depending on our current view of self and who we believe we have to become in order to be accepted. Based on these judgements we alter our outer self to conform with our expectations of what we think other people want to see.
I still vividly remember the face of a client who realised this truth when she compared herself in a work environment (as a head of a large department) to the person she was when she came back home every evening. She was shocked “2 totally different people” she said. “Which one of them feels more real and authentic?” I asked. “The woman at home” she immediately replied.
Authenticity takes courage. Brene Brown says “The idea that we can choose authenticity makes most of us feel both hopeful and exhausted (…) it’s a huge undertaking”
We’re not saying it’s easy but we are definitely saying it’s worth it. Authenticity is the gentle practice of simply being who you are. It sounds like the simplest task of all but it can be one of the most challenging.
Letting go of who we think we are supposed to be, to match the requirements that we tell ourselves others or “the World” have of us, can sometimes mean “peeling off” years and years of being cool, friendly, calm and collected or maybe stressed, in service to others or habitually assuming a victim role.
What are some of the benefits of being authentic?
- A strong sense of integrity
- Relationships based on trust, honesty and openness
- Mindfulness and self-awareness
- Deep and authentic connections
- Loving and being loved for all that we are and for all that we are not
- A sense of self trust and readiness to face challenges
- More energy!
E.E. Cummings wrote “Staying real is one of them most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight”. “Battle” suggests that it might not be easy. There might be a struggle along the way. Going with the flow is easier but the eventual and continual cost seems to be much higher.
Staying real and authentic means identifying and following our personal truth. At times regardless of what others think. It means setting boundaries and educating the World about them. It’s supported by self-kindness, mindfulness and compassion. It’s an openness and readiness to share real thoughts and emotions – both in words and in actions. It’s showing up when it’s not easy and especially when we have no idea what’s going to happen next. It’s becoming awake to yourself, being in touch with who you are, with no games or hidden agendas.
So I keep trying. So far the truth turns out to be gentler than I expected. It’s not aggressive; it helps others understand me better and helps me understand them. It’s surprisingly calm and supportive. At any given point in time I have a choice. I am free to go with the usual response or get to the bottom of what I think and feel by asking myself “What is it that I really want in this situation? What is it that I really think or feel and how can this support my communication with the person in front of me?” No, it doesn’t work every time. But there are levels of success achieved every time.
At times it’s like a process of self-discovery that comes as a surprise when I become fully tuned into my needs, desires, thoughts and expectations. It’s what it feels like to become fully human, welcoming all emotions. I am more patient, more tolerant but I also know that I still have a very long way to go. I have self-kindness that supports me when I say “Ok, this time I was not honest, I was trying to be cool instead. Next time I’ll be ready to respond with more honesty” and I move on. It is and I am a work in progress.
And from what I have learnt so far, being authentic and real is a life-long journey. It’s not something we become overnight. The reason is simple. Life is unexpected and unpredictable. So are people around us. We can deepen our own understanding of self and based on this knowledge take action every day. Can we predict our own reaction and action in every future situation? So far, my experience is that I can’t. That’s what being human is about. Showing up even when we don’t know how and especially when we don’t know how. Peace of mind comes from knowing that the voice of our true selves can always be heard if we need guidance. It’s always there without fail.
Are you willing to listen?
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