Authenticity. What an inspiring word. But, do we know what it means? Do we really know how to be authentic? From my own experience and what I see with my patients, the answer can be complicated, and it depends on how much we know about ourselves and how aware we are of what is going on in our internal world.
Most people are so preoccupied of what is happening “out-there”, all the things that need to be done, activities, responsibilities, commitments, and such that they have very little insight into what is happening to them, what are they experiencing. We live in a world where we can be distracted so easily that we forget to pay attention to what is happening right now and to what we are experiencing.
Imagine yourself being introduced to someone you don’t know. How does it play out? Most people present their best selves, their best image in order to make a great impression. We might do that consciously or not, but most of the time that is what happens. We seek to be accepted and we put our best selves out there so we are sure to get it. If it is someone we like or someone we are interest in, we work hard for that person to like us. We present a well-defined character that is able to hide most of “its imperfections”.
Over time we get it, we get their acceptance and we have the sensation that we belong. But, who do they really know? Well the answer is simple: They get to know the person we put out there for them to know and rarely the person that we really are. For most individuals this character has taken over their life and has very little insight into their actual selves. Our desire for acceptance and approval has concealed our true self. Maybe there is a necessity to hide who we really are out of shame and guilt, but sadly, we lose the opportunity to make a real and genuine connection with some else. Even though they might not know it, we are presenting someone who is not real, not authentic.
How do we connect to others depends greatly on how much are we willing to show about ourselves, how authentic we really are. The less we let people see the shallower and unfulfilling the connections are, resulting in loneliness, isolation, and unhappiness. It is scary to let others into our world, into whom and what we are because we can get hurt. But by doing so, we can really experience relationships, meaningful connections, wholehearted living and love. It could be scary to be ourselves in a society that is so critical, sometimes so superficial. But, can we be someone else? If we are concerned about what others think about us, we are given them the power to control our emotional state.
In order to please other and get their acceptance we present a false self, someone that is not real. Besides loneliness and lack of meaningful connections, we also pay the consequence of not knowing what a real relationship looks like. When we try to be someone we are not we are betraying ourselves, we are rejecting our essence, resulting in a blow to our esteem, our self-worth, and our emotional state. When we have the courage to present our true self, say what we think, express our needs and wants, our ideas, we are giving ourselves what we are seeking out there: true acceptance, love, and a connection deeper than any other we can have, a connection to what is real, what we have inside.
In a society so critical and so filled with characters and distraction it is very easy to get lost and hide who we are. An essential element to wholehearted living is respecting and accepting who we are. In order to live a full life and real life, we have challenged ourselves to present to the world who and what we are. We will never get the approval of everybody, we for sure we will get the approval of the most important person in the world; Ourselves.