Authenticity is such a hot potato today. People have such powerful reactions to any claim to be authentic. What is the issue with this? Why are people so afraid of claims of authenticity? What is authenticity?
The problem stems from people using authenticity as a badge of honour. If I reveal my darkest thoughts I can claim to be authentic. I am bad and admit it so I must be authentic. This, for me does not get to the heart of the matter. Authenticity is about more than baring your soul, it’s about being totally honest with myself and with others.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ―Brené Brown
If I really admit it, by Brené’s definition I am rarely authentic. I make choices every day and frequently those choices involve me in some measure of holding back, of not saying what I really think. This is not about telling the truth, I think I have fairly well debunked the idea that there is a truth. This is about being seen for everything I am, for the whole of me.
I rarely have the confidence to reveal every part of me. I have a lingering fear of being judged, that I have talked about already. I wonder what people will think or say if I reveal everything. I want to keep something about me to myself.
Even more important is the question of revealing everything I think about the other person. the classic question is what do you say if your wife/girlfriend asks, “Does my bum look big in this?” I am not even going to look at how I would answer this…
Why would I want to reveal everything I think about another person?
Perhaps I just think that to be authentic I should be honest about the whole of my thoughts. Maybe I think that they should know it all because it would help them? Maybe I am just arrogant enough to think that what I think matters that much?
“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!”
This might be relevant and necessary in court but I do not live there. I live in the real world full of decisions to make about my interactions with other people. I make assessments all the time about me and others in order to create an optimal situation.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung
For me the answer is to leave behind all the stuff about thoughts and truth and follow Jung in becoming who I truly am.
This is not about what I reveal or what I say, it is about who I portray myself as. Do I create a persona that I set out as the real me or do I just behave as me, unadorned, open and honest?
I believe I say more by being silent than by speaking. I find that my energy speaks volumes. My body language, my facial expressions, my energy are all about me inside. Being authentic is about being congruent with what these say. Being authentic is just being.
“The authentic self is the soul made visible.”—Sarah Ban Breathnach
What does my soul say about me? having been through a process of awareness and acceptance I should be clear about my soul, can I let it speak for me? I hope so.
- Do you regard yourself as authentic?
- What does your authentic self say about you?
- Can people read your soul?