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“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are”
– Brene Brown
True authenticity isn’t something that can be created. Or developed, or grown or built build into your personality.
Authenticity is the clearing out of obstructions.
Unless you grew up on another planet, you have been socially programed from when you were very, very young, to hide your authenticity. That almost certainly wasn’t the conscious plan or intent of those around you, but even the most enlightened of parents and care-givers were acting under the same societal pressures. Which means that in order to not just fit in and be accepted, but to be safe in our society, we’ve each been taught to hide certain truthful, but unfavourable, pieces of ourselves from others.
This isn’t as sinister as it sounds!
It could have been simply learning as a 1-year-old, that your happy, smiley face was appreciated, but when you got mad about something that hurts your feelings, you had to “shhhhhh” and be quiet. Or as a 4-year-old, that when two adults were talking, what you had to say had much less importance and had to wait. Or perhaps you learnt as a-6-year-old, that when you were told to kiss your Uncle or Aunt goodbye when it really didn’t feel right, you had to do it anyway.
The Fragmented Self
So for pretty much all of us, from the very beginning, our personal thoughts, opinions, views and perspectives are hand-picked and shaped according to what those around us most want to see and hear, and the other, rejected pieces and hidden away, in a dark and forbidden place.
The remaining human self – the YOU of today – has become partial, fragmented, and inauthentic.
As adults, very first step in becoming our authentic selves and learning to live more authentic lives, is to re-discover what those missing pieces are. This is the basis of shadow work, a dark, winding (and immensely rewarding) road that will take you to the depths of your fragmented psyche. If you’re serious about this path, work with an expert: someone who’s trained and experienced enough to support you through this powerful healing work. (Sending an intention out to the Universe is often the first step to drawing in exactly the human-shaped support that you need!)
But if you’re standing at the very beginning of this journey, it could be useful right now, to look at the re-discovering of your authenticity as having three distinct steps:
- Clearing obstructions
- True expression
1. Clearing obstructions
Clearing obstructions is one of the most difficult steps to living authentically, because first you need to know what the obstructions are. It involves moving from a state of denial, to a state of awareness, and the leap in consciousness that this needs can be pretty de-stabilising.
The way to do this, is to become acutely aware of your thoughts, feelings and reactions to people and situations. Then question the root and your motivation.
For example: what’s your reaction to your job? Do you love what you do, or do you feel it’s out of alignment with what you’re good at or interested in? If so, then ask yourself why you are doing it – is it for money and security, because of the expectations that other have placed on you, or because you don’t think you’re capable of any more? Whatever the ‘reason’ is, is your obstruction. This is what’s standing between the real, authentic expression of you, and the you which is not enjoying your job. In this case, of course, it’s not something which can be cleared out overnight, but it’s a starting point!
Often, obstructions are disguised as “shoulds” so whenever you’re doing or saying something because you think you should, it’s an obstruction that you need to clear.
When you’ve begun to uncover a few new things about yourself – that you’re really a wildly creative person, and not suited to your office job; that you don’t like doing the laundry and could instead pay somebody else to do it; or even that the monochrome clothes filling your wardrobe don’t make you feel as good as the crazy vibrant knits … Acceptance is the next step.
This is easy enough with the good stuff we uncover, but what about the not so bright and shiny pieces of ourselves? Some of the emotions and motivations which arise may bring up feelings of fear, regret, embarrassment and even shame.
What if you uncover that the earth-mama vision you had of yourself doesn’t truly make you happy, and putting the baby into full time child care is really what you need to do to thrive?
It’s so, so important at this stage not to judge what we truly are and need as good or bad, and to accept everything as equally true and valid.
3. True expression
This last stage may come easy, or it may still feel painfully risky. It’s almost like going back to the very beginning, to being the child that you were, before s/he un-learnt how to truly express him or herself.
This is your second chance.
It requires courage, and it requires vulnerability. But you have gone to the depths, you’ve lived out your opposite and know that it didn’t feel right, so this time you know you can trust yourself over the expectations of society.
Being vulnerable means admitting your true feelings, and then admitting them to others.
Teal Swan makes the clear distinction that doing this authentically is NOT simply defending ourselves, and if you find what you think is your authentic expression becoming a form of defense, ask yourself “What am I trying to defend?” The answer to this question is the vulnerability that you must find the courage to share.
The world needs your authenticity
Being Authentic isn’t just an optional extra to make life feel better.
It’s a core foundation of the soul contracts we have each been born with, and without walking our path in a truthful, authentic way, we cannot evolve.
Authenticity is a practice. It may feel almost impossible to live by at first, so begin with the more pleasure-filled and less disruptive parts of yourself and your life, and you will see that it becomes easier, and life feels a whole lot better, with each step!
Let us know how YOU are moving into a more authentic life.
What obstructions are you clearing?
What changes are you making?
Share below and you may be the inspiration for somebody else to do the same!