Authenticity is often touted as being everything, and yet exactly what is it? How can we know?
People say “Speak your mind” or “I have to be honest” as if there is simply no other option. Actually, there is — there are many options. Speaking something that doesn’t make a difference or may even cause harm is not authenticity. Speaking from a place of hurt is not authenticity, even if it seems to be at the time. Recognizing that hurt exists and remembering that we have the authentic option to speak and act from love anyway — that’s real acknowledgment. Moving toward who we want to be — that’s acknowledging our long term goals authentically. Sticking to hold habits because they feel real — that is an illusion. It may be an authentic illusion, but it’s an illusion.
Imagine, for a moment, that instead of our staunch commitment to authenticity pulling us around like a mule, we could instead have the freedom to instead decide the purpose of our words and actions. Every time we say something, we are playing a part in creating the new world. We are adding fuel to the fire. Do we want the fire to smell of lavender, or do we want to burn toxic chemicals? If it feels good to burn toxic chemicals and we call that authentic, we are likely going to regret it later. Regret is one way of gauging authenticity.
For example, we could be “authentically” angry and therefore we could “authentically” abuse somebody. Of course, that only leaves us wanting more as the purpose is very shortsighted. When we are true to our hearts, even if it doesn’t feel true at the time, we aren’t left regretting anything. Rather, we have inspired ourselves.
People make a lot of excuses for short term gratification by citing authenticity, where in reality true authenticity takes into account the entire path unfolding in front of us: short term, medium term, long term. We can develop our self-trust much more deeply when we acknowledge our entire path ahead of us. When our actions are both gratifying and effective, that is the magic combination in which we are truly taking the actions of our highest potential.
We are not being asked to be untrue to ourselves. We are not being asked to throw ourselves under the bus. We are not being asked to marginalize our wants and needs.
So, without over-analyzing and overthinking “what is authentic” we can just keep in mind that it’s essential to follow our positive feelings instead of our negative feelings. Someone is getting us angry and we want to respond authentically? Try offering to give them a hug, even if it hurts. Our bodies may not find this authentic, but our spirits will. It’s the job of the spirit to ask the mind to calm the body — to find evidence we are safe- no one else is responsible to do this for us. This is our cue to BREATH. If we are stressed, we are very likely not breathing slowly and deeply. This makes all the difference in the world. Take ownership of the body — it’s ours to guide. If we follow the good, be the breath, we will never regret it.