Authenticity is not running off at the mouth about every opinion you have and telling other people to deal with it if they don't align with it.
It's not as simple as being willing to disagree with popular takes or being willing to leave people behind who can't get on board with your view.
Authenticity is looking deeply within yourself, discovering who you are, and sharing yourself with the people you'd like to know you.
It's not about weaponizing your truth. It's about humanizing it.
It's about inviting people in to witness it, get to know it, understand it and, perhaps, embrace it.
It's less "this is who I am, take it or leave it".
It's more, "This is who I truly am, and, I want you in my life. That's my truth. I won't force you to be here. I'll be okay without you. But I hope you stay."
If you're trying to kill off parts of you that care about connecting with others - you're killing off parts of yourself. Rejecting any part of yourself is a reflection of low self worth.
We can't be fractious & authentic at the same time. Those things don't coexist.
If you caught my last post about The Challenge of Authenticity you might relate to a few of the many reasons it can be so hard for us to tap into it.
And why - if you look a little closer at the moments we claim to be tapping into authenticity - what we're really doing is dumbing down this robust, key characteristic of mental & relational health to our own detriment.
We equate it to hot takes on the internet, holiday table debates and, yes, arguing with people about how what's happening to Palestine is categorically Genocide, instead of things like:
- Reconnecting with loving parts of ourselves that are afraid to show up right now, and inviting them in
- Taking ownership of our feelings, stories, and reactions as a personal expression of who we are, how we feel, what we believe, and how we function
- Giving ourselves permission to have a desire and state it out loud. Such as "Truthfully, I want us to get along better. And it's painful for me that that's not happening right now."
- Asking for what we need from a vulnerable place (not to be confused with demanding from a threatening place which, as we can see, is how oppression & colonization start and perpetuate themselves to begin with)
- Sharing how we feel and are impacted & not just what we think with data points
- And allowing ourselves be seen and loved (by people who have the capacity to safely hold the sight of us and, hopefully, love what they see)
Authenticity is inherently vulnerable in practice. And weaponless.
How can I be so sure? Simple. Humans aren't weapons.
But authenticity another concept we've sensationalized and, yes, weaponized, in & of itself, anyway. Because we forget it's not an act of bold, hot takes. It's an act of connecting that often requires us to:
- Get vulnerable
- Have the courage to state out loud that deep down you actually want to connect (just like the rest of us. You aren't that special).
- Share who you actually are and what it actually takes to connect with you
- Engage in emotional intimacy even when it's uncomfortable
Why Do We Care?
Well, we've got two sets of reasons.
The (Healthy) Selfish Ones...
- You get to find people who like you for who you are instead of the benefits and comforts you bring, which allows your nervous system to relax in proximity to others.
- Since authenticity is a natural act of choosing yourself, you feel better about yourself as a result. Even if no one else is the room is very accepting of you, you're accepting of you. Having your own back is a beautiful feeling.
- Having the courage to stand in your truth, weaponless, and allow the chips to fall where they may feels really good once it's said and done, plain and simple.
But It Also Helps Everyone Else...
- The better we get at humanizing ourselves, the better we get at sharing the truth of who we are with the right people
- This includes the parts of us that systems of oppression teach us to fear, fight, and exile in ourselves and one another.
- Since "real recognize real" is a genuine thing: we also get better at learning to see and accept the truth of others. We start to really see authenticity and courage in other people. We commend it even if we struggle to like the picture they're painting of themselves at first.
- The more we give ourselves permission to be ourselves out loud, the more we give the next person permission to baby step their way out of hiding to do the same.
- This includes children. Who are especially vulnerable and important, on this topic.
- This all leads to seeing more humanity in ourselves and one another's wholeness, bit by bit.
- The more we get to humanize the whole of ourselves and one another, the less conflict we have. ********
Meditate on that^ and ask yourself if you're practicing in your part of this.
The world is burning. There's about 8 billion reasons why. They all have names, faces, trauma, struggles, softness, and hidden truths.
They all have arguments. We all have some fight we're fighting. Some role we play.
Each and every one of us is contributing to the fire. That's not a question.
The question is, how are you contributing to change it? And is this really contributing to the change you want to see?
When was the last time you really sat down and asked yourself these questions? How can you act authentically from your truth if you aren't checking in on it?
I've gone through some painful seasons of realizing I was not, in fact, making the contributions I thought I was to the relationships I really wanted to have, or the world I wanted to see. And going even deeper I discovered it was all rooted in the relationship I have with myself.
It can happen, and I'll give more on my story below.
But first, let's get started with your activity prompt to support you in discovering your own answers for yourself. I'll give you mine as examples along the way.
Integrating Authenticity: A Practice
Way better than a reflection prompt.
We're going to find the parts of you you're afraid to express out loud, help you feel wayyyyy better about them, and then give you an opportunity to start sharing them.
Step 1: Find a Target
Choose a situation that feels important (and a little scary/intimidating) to you to be authentic in right now, but you're struggling to...