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Being Authentic

this is me

The song “This is me” from the box-office smash “The Greatest Showman” has been adopted as a personal anthem by many in recent months. It speaks about being able to be yourself and proudly showing to the world the full reality of who you are. Authenticity is a hot topic, especially with so much duplicity being exposed in everything from politics, to finance, to the entertainment industry.

There have been a few high profile suicides recently, which illustrate painfully the fact that what’s happening internally can be very different from what we choose to present publicly. Looking at the majority of feeds on social media, it’s dangerously easy to assume that unless you’re always looking glamorous, happy, successful and totally in control of your life there’s obviously something very wrong and unacceptable about you. It’s exhausting and ultimately damaging to maintain this kind of facade day after day.

But if we’re being truly honest with ourselves, how easy is it to be authentic? Let’s first define what it means. When you’re authentic you are honest about and true to yourself in any moment. You recognise your feelings as they happen, allow yourself to feel them without judgement whatever they are, and then do whatever is necessary to honour them.

In my experience the foremost challenge we have to authenticity is simply being able to tell what our true feelings are! From the moment we’re born we’re bombarded with the opinions, expectations and limitations of those who have authority over us. As children, we internalise all of this automatically without giving it a second thought. So when you get to adulthood, you’re unconciously operating from a mishmash of absorbed “rules” that you’ve cobbled together over many years dictating what is acceptable for you to think, do and say and what is not.

So how can you begin to unpick the threads and find your true inner voice? You can make an excellent start by spending just one day observing your thoughts and actions; it can be very telling. One of the best pointers is acknowledging that commentary running in your head that says you “should” or “ought to” do something. The moment you hear one of those words you can be pretty sure it’s not “your” voice speaking, but rather an external authority whose rules you still hold to – most often a parent, but perhaps a teacher or an older sibling. It’s really helpful to watch out for all those “ought”s and “should”s (I bet you’ll be surprised how many there are) and treat them as a STOP sign. Take a deep breath, bring your attention into your body and ask yourself how you really feel about what you’re considering. Is your head saying yes you ought to do something, but you’re actually feeling a definite no? It will take time and practice, but the more you do this the quicker you’ll begin to recognise the disparity and catch yourself before being steered into action by an inauthentic driver.

As the oracle at Delphi knew, wisdom lies in knowing yourself. So it’s also essential to be aware of the obstacles you’ve put in place that prevent you from being true to yourself. Those obstacles have usually been adopted as survival mechanisms from an early age, so don’t give yourself a hard time about them – be thankful that they got you through until now so you’re able to make more conscious choices! The common hurdles are:

  • You want to fit in and feel like you belong, so you go along with the majority to feel accepted and part of the crowd.
  • You’re scared of feeling the pain of isolation, ridicule and rejection which can result from being very obviously different.
  • You want to be liked and loved, and perhaps feel that unless you please others and make them happy (often sacificing your own desires) they won’t want you around. This is because our experience of human love is so often conditional with an IF clause attached such as, “I’ll love you if you always look after me…”)
  • You put pressure on yourself to be perfect and only reveal the positive aspects of yourself and your life, believing that it’s wrong, weak or unacceptable to be ill, to need help or to struggle.
  • If you’re sensitive or empathic, as I know many of you who read my Blog are, then you pick up energy from other people which makes it more even more difficult to distinguish your own voice and feelings from those of the other people around you.

If any of this sounds like you, then please know that I struggled with many of these issues in my early adult life, which is why I created the Pure Me online course so you don’t have to. Take a look and see if you think it may help you.

I’m often asked if being authentic means you’re free to say or do exactly what’s going on in your head because that’s the way you’re feeling at the time. The answer, of course, is no as there’s more to it than that. Humans are social animals and we don’t exist in isolation, so in the interests of the greater whole we balance the other side of the authenticity equation with respect for and kindness to others. For example, when a friend is keeping you on the phone with their latest sob story and you can barely focus for fidgeting to get on with some urgent work, you might be thinking, “Holy moly will she ever stop moaning and I have more important things to do and I’m never going to get my work in on time now….” There’s a need here to honour your own feelings, your friend’s need for support, and a commitment to being kind, so instead you could say,

“I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through and I understand how upset you are, but I really have to go right now as I’ve got a deadline to meet. Can I call you back when I have more time?”

Authenticity includes remembering that you’re always interacting with another vulnerable being who is battling with their own challenges, so compassion is key. If this is the starting point from which our authentic being expresses itself then we can undoubtedly all help each other to be ourselves.

Semele Xerri is a psychic intuitive Tarot reader, spiritual healer and teacher, and Reiki Master Teacher. To find out more about her and her services, go to her Welcome page.
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