Authenticity

Posted on May 4, 2017 in Self-Help

One of the hardest things to accept in this human life is the ever-changing nature of our selves.

We try our best to hold on to, to grasp a little tighter at, to pin down a version of us that felt good, one that warranted approval. We want to maintain our summer glow, our youthful energy, our athletic physique, our confident attitude, our sharp mind, our tenacious spirit…

But it’s all elusive & mysterious because just as we may come into appreciation or even simple awareness, it seems to slip through our fingers.

So, although each day can be an opportunity for growth & renewal, each day can also be a reminder of what no longer is. Here we mourn old traits & abilities. Here we must put to rest our ideas of who we think we are.

We may tell ourselves, “Compared to what I once was, I’m not so hot right now. I’m going to wait to start this new job/relationship/project until I’m able to recollect myself — until I’m back to being my best self. Currently it feels like I’m not living to my fullest potential. I’m not strong enough / attractive enough / organized enough to open myself to the world right now.”

This is a snare many of us get stuck in. We wait. We wait on the sidelines with a timidness and a false belief that what we have to offer right now is not enough.

(To note: If a rest period is what you need at this time, then it’s what you need! This is not only allowed, but encouraged – so long as you are taking it deliberately. The trap we want to avoid is becoming passive to this life. And It’s this erroneous idea, that “as we are, we are not enough,” that lures us here.)

The beautiful thing is that your best self doesn’t lie in your strongest self, your most wrinkle free self, your hardest working self, your most jovial self, your skinniest self, your most confident self, or your most organized self. You don’t have to be collected & composed to be your best self because your best self is your most authentic self. The beautiful thing is that you have access to this self on a moment to moment basis.

self love acceptance expression authentic spirit art

What does this even mean, “my most authentic self”?? To me it means, to speak one’s truth & to follow one’s heart. (I do understand that this may sound too hippy-dippy to think about how to incorporate it in a real way.)

So, if you are questioning your authenticity, it might be helpful to have a conversation with yourself, asking honestly:

1. Am I experiencing freedom of expression? (What is in charge of the volume and content of my speech on a day-to-day basis? And, in my more personal life, am I allowing my inner artist to have full reign of their canvas?) Where do I find my actions to be stifled and/or where do I find them to be fake?

2. Am I living this life for me? (Or, was my decision to live here/work here/dress this way/marry this person/eat this diet/follow this religion, etc., was it made to appease another? What would I choose if I felt truly free from familial and societal pressure?

3. Do I allow myself to show up just as I am? When I drop into observation of my state, have I been practicing acceptance without judgement? Or, is it that I label my thoughts/emotions as bad and then try to cover them up?

For instance, “I feel down today but I have to attend this party… I want to reject this depression because I think of it as ugly – I don’t like seeing it in myself and I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to share it with others. Additionally, I don’t believe that depressed-me will have anything to offer. My options are to A. Coat my facade in smiles & attend the gathering B. Stay home and feel bad about feeling bad.

Allowing yourself to show up as you are, would be to entertain the remaining options. C. To attend the party while still honoring your mood by removing any pressure to be explicitly engaging or contributory, perhaps even sharing that you are feeling low, D. To rest at home in the company of your mood, the only rule, to refrain from making any classifications of it as good or bad.)

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Why is it important to act from a place of authenticity?

We could go in depth about the the social, spiritual, physiological & psychological benefits, but I think the answer would be most easily explained through a relation to a particular Ayurvedic principle: Vegadharan, which means suppression of natural urges.

Our body is a complex and intelligent system that understands the appropriate times and methods by which to operate. Without our conscious involvement it is designed to maintain a balance among all the substances within us and to also extricate the appropriate material out from within us – all in an effort to keep us as healthy as possible.

Ayurveda acknowledges this inner wisdom and encourages us to honor any natural urge that may arise. This means not holding back any need to urinate, defecate, cough, sneeze, fart, burp, vomit, ejaculate, tear, yawn or sleep. Unfortunately, mostly by way of cultural conditioning, many of us withhold these on a regular basis. 

To suppress a bodily urge is considered prajnaparadha, or “a crime against wisdom” — the repercussion of which being malady as non-expression results toxic build up and interruption of vital processes. To suppress one’s nature is to create disease.

Likewise, every soul has its own natural urges that when suppressed create dis-ease. When we block our flow, we suffer. This may show itself as despair, anxiety or anger – all of which are ultimately an extension of feeling a lack of fulfillment.

One may also observe that, life, as a mirror, too appears blocked. Our home/family/work life may either feel stagnant, or stuck in chaos.

chaos depression anxiety social alone help support lonely self

 

Why Does this Occur?

There are many internal and external barriers that obstruct our ability to flow fully. At the most basic level, we have to feel safe enough to do so. We often hear the advice to “just be yourself,” but even with this direction, it proves challenging.

Either we fear the criticism (or even punishment) that we may elicit, from ourselves or others.

Or, we don’t know who “ourself” is as we’ve yet to take the time for any reflection, introspection & meditation.

What we can do about it : Creating more safety

At it’s core, a safe environment is one free of judgement. (Being human and a product of our society, to be absolutely free of judgment is a tall order. However, what we can ask for realistically is, to be conscious around it.) A safe environment is also one free of punishment. As punishments are reactions based on judgment, this would inherently be addressed.

We can make an effort to open our minds and shed the conditioning that may be in the way of our authenticity. We can continue to look at what triggers us: what do I have trouble accepting in a person? What are my aversions about and where are their origins?

Finding your practice(s). Painting, yoga, writing, running, tai chi, meditation, swimming, drawing, woodworking etc. To craft a daily, distraction-free ritual is to create a kind of security and intention that together lay the foundation for one’s authentic self to emerge. It’s in this solace and safety that we can make this connection within.

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What if…

“I have have present commitments. If I discover that these aren’t inline with my authentic-self, what use is this work?”

Commitment to a job, housing, family, or other relationships can make for sticky transitions when a change in direction is desired. Perhaps this particular situation is beyond changing at the moment, but there is still value in asking the aforementioned questions. Even if we aren’t able to act on what we’d like to right away, the exercise of accessing one’s truth is invaluable. We can then at least move forward with the understanding of why there may be current feelings of dis-ease. And, we can move forward with a newfound ability to connect with oneself, meaning we’ll have different tools for making future decisions.

Even in the midst of a seemingly unchangeable situation, the practice of pursuing one’s authenticity will bend the course of one’s life to one of greater fulfillment — just as the rooted sprout senses the sunlight, it bends to grow itself in a brighter direction.

grow support light flower

 Like this post? You may also enjoy Guilt or Continuing.

6 Comments

  1. good stuff,thanks for sharing?

    • Thanks for the feedback Christopher!

  2. Hi Kat

    Have just read your articke on authenticity and enjoyed reading it.
    Found it to be beautifully written and worded. So a big thank you. Your videos are also charming.

    • Oh thanks Hazel. That means a lot <3

  3. This is the first post of your I’ve read and just like your videos it’s really well articulated with great insight. Love the analogy at the end. Thanks Kat!

    • Thanks for saying so Carson. Blessed to have your support 🙂

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