People often mistake the neck-rolling-hands-on-hip-diva-style-tell-it-like-it-is persona with what it means to be authentic. To the contrary beloveds “keeping it real” and authenticity are not quite the same. I am not saying that some circumstances might not warrant a diva-style approach to speaking the truth.
Indeed being a diva is a defensible choice. But there is power in doing anything from choice, versus a lack of understanding. So for the sake of clarity let’s shape a working definition of authenticity.
Authenticity is an amalgamation of personal elements, composed of compassion, vulnerability and honesty. Now let’s break it down into bite-sized pieces of awareness:
COMPASSION AND AUTHENTICITY
Authenticity without compassion breeds contempt. Your “truth” (which is simply an interpretation of facts filtered through a psychological schema) must take into consideration the heart, soul and being of others. This in no way means that being authentic will avoid hurt feelings. Hurt feelings are an inevitable part of living life on life’s terms.
However, treating others with grace and respect honors our sense of humanity, even in the face of emotional pain. To that end, what we often perceive as emotional pain and hurt is God’s way of redirecting our attention back to Divine purpose. When our ego convinces us that being inauthentic is a way to protect another’s feelings then we may be getting in the way of God’s plan…And all I can say is good luck with that!
VULNERABILITY AND AUTHENTICITY
Vulnerability is the biggie. It is the piece that usually stumps those who have not done the personal work to heal their emotional baggage. It requires you to have a good sense of self and self-image. However, authenticity without vulnerability lends itself to the desires of the ego. And, oh my, what an untamed beast the ego can be when left to run amok!
The ability to be vulnerable means freedom from the primal needs of the ego. You can speak your truth without being affected by someone else’s image of you. Thus, your locus of validation must be internal in order to fuse vulnerability with authenticity. But it is essential if your intention is to speak a truth from your heart, without blame or judgment. For example, it is easier to extend forgiveness when you are vulnerable enough to recognize all the ways in which you need to be forgiven.
Vulnerability affords us all an opportunity to sift through our own painful stories, or joy for that matter. We are then able to see where our stuff ends and the other person’s begins. It is a heart-centered place to be and it takes real courage to live in that emotional position.
HONESTY AND AUTHENTICITY
Honesty is the foundation for authenticity. It is required, or you have to forgo even calling it authenticity. My new favorite quotes come from longtime empowerment coach, Iyanla Vanzant. On her show, Iyanla Fix My Life, you can often hear her say, “Let’s call a thing a thing people” and “Just tell the truth”. Both phrases are more than appropriate for this element of authenticity. So let’s keep it simple. Here is the secret to honesty…Just be willing to tell the truth.
It is imperative that you decide where your integrity begins and ends. It is not always easy to do…I said simple, not necessarily easy. But the people around you deserve your honesty. You deserve your honesty. I am going to dare to say that it isn’t always honesty with others that we grapple with. It is actually being honest with ourselves that poses the real challenge.
We have to stop lying to ourselves, first and foremost. Stop people pleasing and tell the truth. Stop living in denial because wherever you go there you are, and you cannot run from the universal consciousness, so tell the truth. Stop living in shame because of things that you did when you didn’t know any better and just tell the truth.
There is no need to worry about how others will perceive you. Remember they are simply filtering their perceptions through their own schema. Instead focus on living with the person you see in the mirror every day.
Final Thoughts on Authenticity
Now, imagine how much richer your life would be with authenticity. Yes, it is true…I promise! I wish you well on your journey to greater self-care, through LIVING MORE AUTHENTICALLY.