Being truly authentic is one of the hardest things for us to do. Our social status, professional and personal relationships and conditioning influence the way we move in the world. We grow accustomed to a certain way of thinking and live as if it were real.

Most of our thoughts, however, are illusionary. In fact, we very often lack evidence of the things we think, and yet we behave according to their codex.

An example might be a young girl who thinks she is fat. Despite the fact that everyone around her thinks she is thin, she responds to her image in the mirror by eating less and less. She has lost touch with her sense of self, if she ever had one at all. And her beliefs take over her life completely.

Our thoughts are mere constructs. They help us organise our interactions with the world and with ourselves. When our thoughts meander down a negative path, we place judgment on everything we experience. Judgement leads us away from our true selves. It clogs the passageway to our authentic being.

From one empty thing to another

Authenticity stems from a deep understanding of oneself. We must have a connection to that inner power we all possess. It requires a genuine listening and centeredness from which our intuition grows.

Creating an inner sanctum in which we can practise self-soothing is a life-sustaining exercise. Without a safe place to land within ourselves, we would be carried like flotsam down the river of life. We would constantly be in reaction to everything around us without the ability to withstand those stressors.

Steering away from our authentic beingness, many of us look outside ourselves for that elusive happiness we just know is ‘out there’. We feverishly pursue fleeting moments of joy, only to be left empty once again. Falsehoods replace authenticity, leading us down a path far away from ourselves.

Authenticity guarantees happiness as we really listen to what is true for us. From that central space, we can call up our joy any time we need it. Happiness, and its opposite misery, reside within. The only one who can decide how to feel is you.

Although we may know this to be true, we often turn to others to fill the void within ourselves, to make us feel better and to distract ourselves from our inner truth. It is true. We do need each other. As social animals, humans thrive when interconnected. Even loners need a hug every once in a while.

But if we are never able to soothe ourselves in moments of despair, we will be forever doomed to unhappiness. We have a lot more control than we realise when it comes to how we choose to live our lives and how we choose to react to the things that happen in it. Remaining authentic in the face of our own pain actually helps alleviate it.

Authenticity drives awareness about our own feelings. It also more easily allows us to accept what is real for us without trying to push it down or away from ourselves. Acceptance, in turn, brings us back to our true selves – without judgment or fear.

Being alive is the reason

When you are awash with remarkable waves of joy for the mere sake of being alive, it is your internal altar saying hello. It is your true space of authenticity waving its hand. It is your very essence greeting the day.

Being authentic is liberating when we attempt it with courage. Speaking our heartfelt truth gives other license to do the same.

There is a difference, however, between being authentic and being simply annoying.

Authenticity doesn’t mean you have free reign to project all your opinions onto everyone else. When you are being real, you are coming from a space deep within yourself where love, not complaint, is housed. It is a space void of judgment or fear. Instead, what you will find is the honesty with which we are all born.

Most people who claim they are authentic fall into the annoying category.

Why?

Because being authentic means you don’t have to claim that you are being so. You simply are being so.

We have all met people who celebrate their own truth-telling, but what they are really doing is being hurtful, tactless and murderously unaware of the impact their words have on others. Coming from a space of care and true connection with self has an entirely different
feel to it.

Let’s look at an example.

Consider your friend who asks you for your opinion about how she looks in that green dress that actually makes her look more like a reptile than Rapunzel. Do you tell her your opinion?

Annoying response:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph. You look God-awful in that thing. Take it off. Now!”

Authentic response:

“I bet you have another outfit that highlights your features better. Let’s take a look in your closet.”

You aren’t being mean while being honest. You are being kind, authentic and loving to your friend by redirecting her efforts to a more suitable dress.

Authentic communication is about being empowered while empowering others. It has a special quality to it and you know it when you experience it.

Children are authentic. It might be the reason why we sometimes feel uncomfortable when a child says something revealing about ourselves. They have not yet learned certain ‘socially acceptable’ behaviours that remove us from the discomfort of our own truth. They simply live in the ever-lasting present moment with what is. As we grow older, we move away from our centre to an externally sanctified set of rules. But oftentimes those rules do not resonate with who we truly are.

Authenticity sets you free to be who you are. And who you truly are, underneath all those opinions, is a beautiful soul that deserves to soar.

This was first published in the May 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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