What does it mean to be authentic?

Some says it is about being yourself. Some say it is doing what makes you smile. Some say it is living your own life.  Some say it is focusing on the goodness in you. Some say it is expressing what you experience in the moment.

If authenticity is so good why are more people not authentic?

Authenticity is about honesty and the courage to express how/what we feel and long for. What is stopping us from this? Consider a toddler. Is he/she authentic? Does he/she express her feelings and wants? What happen later in life that make the toddler suppress his/her feelings and wants?

It is about the fear of being ourselves!  Fear of being in our own power! Fear of being not good enough, rejection, abandonment, judgment, ridicule, vulnerability and the unknown are some basic fears which can become resistances to experiencing our true self.

To be authentic we need to accept ourselves. We need to accept the positive and the negative in us. We need to experience ourselves as we are, not as we should be. We need to feel all of our emotions without judging them.  We need to accept where we are in our spiritual journey right now.

When we are authentic, being who we are, we are calm, peaceful, vulnerable and full of joy. A cat cannot bark very well trying to act like a puppy, but he can meow with ease. The same applies to us, if we try to act like someone else, it will be awkward, stressful and never fulfilling.

How do you know how authentic you are? You can get an idea by finding how you talk to yourself about how you “should” be. Where did all the “shoulds” come from? What if we gradually kill our soul by ignoring our authentic self? What will happen if we never allow ourselves to express what we need? What will happen if we ignore our soul’s desire(s)?

If you are feeling sad, and in response to “Do you feel sad?” you say I am fine; you are not being authentic. What you say and what you feel at that moment are not congruent.  Perhaps you can say, I feel sad because my friend is experiencing lots of pain and I care about her.

If you are afraid of your boss and talk behind his back to all your co-workers, and you do not express what you feel to your boss, you are not being authentic. Either accept the situation or learn how to effectively verbalize your fear and then have a friendly and honest conversation with your boss and deal with the consequences.

If you are feeling a certain emotion, love or anger, and you do not verbalize it in a constructive way you are not authentic. Being vulnerable is part of being authentic. Perhaps if you are angry, you can tell that person that you are feeling anger because you did not expect such a behavior from him. You become vulnerable and express how you feel in a constructive manner.

It is rather easy to be an advocate for others, yet it is very difficult to be an advocate for ourselves and express how we feel or what we need. It is also easier to accept the shadows of others rather than our own. Being authentic is being comfortable in our own skin, being receptive to what we feel without worry of judgment from others.

Becoming an authentic person may take a life time. You can take small steps every day or week to become more authentic than before. Do you feel a need to express more of what you feel? Do you need to accept that being sad or angry is ok? Do you need to put more focus on your truth rather than trying to please others to keep the peace?  Do you need to pursue a project that you always wanted to do but you were afraid it will not turn out well? What are some other ways you can be more authentic? Let me know.

Copyright @2014 by Shervin Hojat


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