Being Authentic (deliberate capital A) is something we’re told we should aspire to. We’re also told someone Authentic does it easily without a care in the world, without even having to think about it.
According to this view, if we’re not comfortably and easily being ourselves – our Authentic selves – then clearly there’s something wrong with us.
The thing with being Authentic is that it comes with risks.
If you find it important to be liked then being Authentic could mean rubbing people up the wrong way.
Oprah says something to the effect of “You know when you’re being yourself because there will be at least 5 people who are upset with you.”
Mark Manson who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck says about being Authentic “You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and embarrassment to others.”
So if looking like a fool makes you wish the earth would open up and swallow you, maybe being Authentic will be quite a challenge.
But what if you could assure yourself that these challenges and risks to how people see you were normal? What if you could assure yourself that the payoff – the good things that come from being Authentic (better relationships, a greater sense of integrity, more confidence in yourself – outweighed the risks?
Then you could make the choice in each moment to follow the Authentic path.
You could choose to keep the peace……. or you could choose to stay true to yourself and invite conflict.
You could choose not to dance because you think you look stupid……. or you could let go and have an authentically great time.
You could choose to keep your vulnerability to yourself so you don’t look ‘weak’ ……or you could share your Authentic vulnerable self and be rewarded with more intimacy in your relationships.
Brene Brown reports that her research says that Whole-Hearted People (who describe themselves as Authentic) work at being Authentic. It’s not just an idea for them. It’s a practice.
To make this a practice, try this little exercise. For one week, notice and write down how many times you make the decision to be Authentic and how many times you choose to take the less authentic path because it’s easier.
Then for the next week try to halve the less authentic decisions.
Then the next week halve them again.
It could be tough. It could be uncomfortable. But I’m guessing it will be incredibly rewarding.
Let me know how you go.