“I wish I’d have known you. I wish I’d have shown you all of the things I was on the inside.” -Top of the World (Dixie Chicks)
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t fully show up as yourself? This might have been at work, or in your romantic relationships, with your family and friends, or even around strangers. In some way, you felt like you needed to be someone you’re not. Maybe that meant hiding parts of your personality – things you thought people might not like or may not understand. Maybe it meant trying to fit in or gain someone’s approval – seeking to find that sign which says you are good enough and worthy of someone’s affection and appreciation.
I can honestly say this used to be a fairly common behaviour for me in my personal relationships. I never intended to be inauthentic; it just always sort of happened. I became what I thought people needed me to be – whether that was my friends, coworkers or someone I was dating. (And of course it was always based on my perception – it may not even have been their reality.) I often felt like I was “too much this” or “not enough that”. I would bite my tongue and not speak up about certain things because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (somehow respecting my own never even crossed my mind). Or I would give more time and energy into a project than I wanted to. Or I would say yes when I meant no. All of these things slowly turned ‘me’ into someone I no longer knew.
“When we deprive ourselves of love, affection, self-respect, we over-compensate that loss with the ego. We scramble to be recognized, acknowledged, wanted, needed and ultimately, drain anything left of us that is authentic.” ~Amy Jalepeno~
So, what does being authentic mean really? The definition of authentic is to come from source or origin. For me, being authentic means living according to my soul – the core of my being – which is an expression of Source – of all that is. It’s who I am regardless of who else is around – who I am when I don’t worry about what other people think about what I do, say, feel, or think. It’s the ‘me’ who doesn’t have to try to be anything – it’s just who I am. It might mean setting boundaries and saying, ‘no that doesn’t work for me’. (This piece about boundaries is especially important for those of you who are empaths – highly sensitive people who are deeply affected by other people’s emotions and energy. You might be taking on someone else’s ‘stuff’ without realizing it, and this makes it hard for you to hear your own internal voice.) It might be expressing my feelings. It will no doubt be vulnerable and messy and surprisingly beautiful. You might say authenticity is just unapologetically being myself.
Being authentic is a daily practice. It means consistently choosing to be who you are and not who others want you to be (or what you think others want you to be). Every interaction with another human being is really an invitation to come back to yourself and learn more about who you want to be. In each moment we can decide to live life wide open – to be our true selves…or not. We can betray ourselves, or we can be ourselves – it really is a choice. We can say: “I am enough. I can be exactly as I am.”, and when we do, we see that our wings are not broken; we are free to fly anytime we choose.
“How would your life be different if you approached all relationships with authenticity and honesty? Let today be the day you dedicate yourself to building relationships on the solid foundation of truth and authenticity.” ~Steve Maraboli~