Authenticity: true to one’s personality, spirit or character. is sincere and authentic with no pretensions Authenticity is a frequently used term these days. From my perspective as a Positive Psychology Life coach I believe it to be paramount in the the level of happiness and quality of our lives.
So many of us, due to our reptilian brain, wired to follow the herd, are programmed to live lives we are taught to live, believe values instilled by well meaning teachers, parents and sadly a society that projects images of false perfection that we can fall prey if we compare ourselves to them. The latter will always leave us feeling inadequate because these are man made images that want us to buy a certain brand, whether it be cosmetic, clothing or cars, and are very good at honing in on the vulnerable and young.
Sadly buying into these false images of perfection can lead many to unhealthy attempts of becoming the unattainable myth of perfection, leading to eating disorders, addictions and low self-esteem. The beauty of cultivating a truly authentic life begins with self-love, with knowing, as Remana Maharishi states that “You are already that which you seek”. Once we are aware of what our own values are, and follow our own instincts and sense of purpose, we can let all that is not “us” fall away. Releasing myths or formulas we had been taught, in order to discover our own true nature. This allows us to continually evolve into authentic beings, however that looks and wherever that leads. We really can’t go wrong when following our inner compasses.
Yes we will make mistakes and stumble along the way, as does anyone with the courage to take the risk non conforming, who beat to their own drum, and who trust the way will always reveal itself when we do. This may have been the road less traveled in the past, but more and more people are branching out by taking the risk to live on their own terms. Can you tell when you are in the presence of someone authentic? It is often felt, a confidence conveyed in their truthful words, their own sense of style, their life choices, and it gives permission to others to be truly themselves. As Oscar Wilde put so aptly: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. Similarly, can you sense when someone is phony, or trying to be someone they are not. I know it can feel awkward and I find sad. Don’t get me wrong we all go through stages of this, adolescence in particular is a time to try on different hats, experiment, testing what feels right.
Leaders such as Oprah Winfrey openly admits that when she first started as an anchor woman, when there were so few women in the industry, that she tried to be like Barbara Walter’s, which she realized wasn’t working. Clearly being her true self proved to serve her well and teach many others to do the same. We all have role models and borrow from them when starting out in a new field. It takes time and awareness to recognize what comes from our deepest self. To be authentic is to be self-authoring, creating lives that reflect what is meaningful to us, to act and speak in ways that are consistent to our deepest values.
Fear is not a weakness, and can protect us from danger, but it can also hold us back. To put ourselves out in the world, without false masks takes great courage. Our primordial brains served a great purpose many years ago, but fear is not always a sign of danger today. Susan Jeffers, Ph.D suggests “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, anyone who has done this knows how liberating this feels. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson Most importantly learn to trust yourself, get still and listen to your deepest desires and instincts. to realize our fullest potential is what we’ve been put on this earth to do.
Plant your seeds of intention in fertile soil and care for them, water them as you would a plant you care for. Plants need light, nourishment and love, and we can give that to ourselves, and receive it from others. Choose relationships that support who you are, create environments that reflect what makes you feel alive, live your best life! “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it’s best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E.E. Cummings