The other day, at a children’s clothing store, I said to my 4 year old son, go ahead choose a t-shirt. For a second he stood at the entrance looking both ways to the boys and to the girls areas and then announced: I don’t like the colors in the boys area , I will go shop at the girls area. And proceeded to walk towards the pink t-shirts with strawberries and watermelons. No amount of gentle luring towards the California surfing boys t-shirts worked.
Who would you be if you could be yourself?
All of us feel the pressure to be or act a certain way in different areas of our lives. Sometimes we flow where the pressure takes us and mold ourselves to fit in. Yak! Thankfully, life always throws a situation to make us question: Is our Authenticity repressed? How can we be more our Authentic selves? We discussed this and more at our last meeting:
Who we truly are is tied to many things like our personality, beliefs, past, the roles we take… and it is ever-changing. However, there is a thread that runs throughout our whole lives, the real us that is intangible, and that in happy or challenging situations, is like our safety net. So, how do we bring the Authentic thread to the surface all the time?
‘Start Where You Are’, is the advice by Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön in her book by the same name, where she talks about using who we really are, to fully live in the present moment, and that if we start to reject parts of our self that we don’t like, the parts we do like are also rejected. The so called good and bad are intertwined. The acceptance of this intertwining can be major inner work, but knowing that those things that annoy us of ourselves are also pushing us towards discovering our best selves is key and the start of self-love.
Loss of perspective
Make a fist with your hand and put it right in front of your nose. Go ahead, touch your face with it and look at it. If you had never seen a human hand before, would you know its full shape? Now, extend your hand and see the difference. This is what happens to us when we try to look at our own virtues or defects. Its difficult to do it with objectivity. Like the victims of anorexia or bulimia, we start seeing ourselves distorted, as ”not thin enough”. Or not feminine, manly, intelligent, creative, beautiful, competent, logical,…fill your own blank.
The Impostor Syndrome
To gain perspective and discover more of your Authenticity, you could do various things:
-Ask yourself how are you intelligent, creative, beautiful, etc. ? The answers will point you to the unique traits you have and to your own resourcefulness, that nobody else has.
-You could ”try on” what you admire in others, because perhaps that is a reflection of your true self.
-If the concept of Authentic self is awkward for you, then ask yourself what are your authentic desires.
Authenticity and Instinct
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her book Woman who Run with the Wolves, describes intuition as a great power ”composed of lightning-fast inner seeing, inner hearing, inner sensing and inner knowing.” Lightning-fast. So you must be prepared to feel it and act on it. Or else you will run right over your authentic desires, denying your own power and cutting down on possibility. If we stay tuned our instinct will feel like a quick flutter clueing us into what our desire really is or warning us of a danger.
The work is about Self-Love
How do you take the intangible and project it out into your clothes, your speaking, where you go and what you do? Its easier than you think. As one of our members put it , Authenticity ”means for me to respect and care for yourself, in other words, to simply love yourself ”. Self-love is the everyday practice of giving yourself space, compassion and the lightning of your own fire. It’s not a passive activity. It actually requires energy and effort to seek out those things that feed your inner burning.
When you can love yourself completely and deeply then your whole life will unfold. It will affect how you see yourself, your profession, your relationships, your health, how you spend your money… and, using a term I learned from Brene Brown, it will make you a wholehearted person.
Authenticity and Personal Power
Marc Eckō , the entrepreneur behind the Eckō global clothing brand, formulated his experience of Authenticity in his book Unlabel: Selling You without Selling Out, like this:
”Authenticity is equal to your unique voice, multiplied by truthfulness, plus your capacity for change, multiplied by range of emotional impact, raised to the power of imagination. ”
Remember, if we don’t know our own voice, truth and capacity for change, someone or something will take that power and will impose what it wants on us. Our personal power increases the more authentic we are. Be careless and you may construct a whole persona that is based on what you think you are supposed to be. If you are in need of the attitude required to not care anymore of who you are supposed to be, and do what you love, check out a recommendation from one of our members, F**k It Therapy.
I also recommend the book Discover your Authentic Self by Sherrie Dillard. This collection of essays blew me away as it explores so many areas of the Authenticity journey we begin at childhood. She takes you through surprising themes of self-discovery like our emotions, passions, dreams, personal style, archetypes, spirit animals… and over all it is a call to transformation to understand that you are who you are looking for.
After many conversations, I think Authenticity is the ongoing personal construction of our best self. That ever evolving best you. In the spirit of the Happiness Project, let’s resolve to be our own authority, so we can be free to become happier.
Last night I dreamt I was in a beautiful but old and rickety museum when a small tremor struck. I walked fast towards the front door thinking an aftershock could follow but I could not open it. Then I heard my father’s voice outside asking very calmly to someone in the street, ”Did you feel that shake?” His warm voice instilled trust in me that I would get out and I noticed a little trap door, like for a pet, so I quickly squiggled my way out through it. Waiting for me on the other side was my smiley father, in a pink t-shirt.
Thanks and welcome your shares!