Finding the Courage to Be your Genuine Authentic Self
Posted June 17, 2019
I was watching David Letterman’s Netflix interview with Kanye West and was duly surprised when Kanye started speaking about his evolution as an artist and the criticisms he’s received and explained how he’s been able to field adversity by remaining true to himself.
“I didn’t take all of this time to become me to listen to you,” he remarked, and I had what we call an “Aha!” moment, because it made sense.
Granted, I’m not a huge Kanye fan, but my kids are, so when I had the opportunity to see what he was about, I took it. And, who would have thought that it would send me – in an instant – on an introspective journey to make sure that I, myself was continuing to be my Genuine, Authentic Self.
Now for me, it was just a spot-check; a quick mental review of a hundred myriad interactions with other human beings I’d come in contact with followed by a laundry list of questions: Had I been “fake”? Had I been cowardly? Had I been running on automatic pilot with little regard to my own wants, needs, and desires? And, if so, how often? And what had the result been? And how did I feel about myself afterward?
In order to understand the kind of genuine authenticity (psychologically speaking) I was checking for, we need to first look at what the “self” actually is or, rather, the Self (with the capital “S”).
Stay with me as we peel away the layers on this onion.
Most of us operate from a place of Identity (what we call self). It is like a spacesuit which we have worn ever since we assimilated the thinking, feeling, and behaviors instilled in us by parents, caregivers, teachers, family, religion, and society.
This identity can act, it can think, it can even feel – and we believe that this is the quintessential us because we’ve lived in it for so long and so hard that we think that this is who we are. But, more often than not, it isn’t. It’s just a very sophisticated coping array that we developed so that we could survive; so that we could belong.
But our authentic Self is still in there somewhere, peeking out through fissures in the suit, expressing itself in ways that continually surprise us. How many times have you found yourself in a relationship in which you fought and argued every day over the smallest things?
Chances are it is because you both know the person you’re with isn’t The One and your vitality is constantly pushing back against what you’ve accepted as your lot in life.
Believe me when I tell you that it isn’t.
We are constantly suppressing our truths, stamping it back down into our subconscious – sealing the fissure – because, for whatever reason, we simply don’t want to upset the status quo. We believe that, when people tell us to live our authentic lives or be our authentic selves or “just do you,” that what they are saying is build a stronger space suit and reinforce our identity so that we can be “heard,” but that’s not what “doing you” is at all.
The biggest problem people have with being authentic are the fears people have that are wrapped up in the lies we’ve accumulated over the years which, ultimately, compose our identities. We tend to tell other people what we think they want to hear, mostly because we want to be liked so much.
Now, let me explain; wanting to belong isn’t a bad thing – we all want to belong – it’s when you compromise your inner truth that the cost of belonging becomes too high. Being Real means being straight-up about your feelings. You’ve got to be respectful in how you express those feelings, but you also need to be truthful in the moment that they occur.
Your inner compass, your inner Self, will never lie to you. Fear and ego will always block you from being genuine and authentic. But when a woman who is in a horrible relationship with an extremely attractive man finds the courage to pack her bags and leave, that’s authentic.
Or when a homosexual turns to his father and says, “Dad, I’m gay, and if it’s going to make a difference as to whether or not you love me, then it should start making a difference now,” that’s authentic.
Or when a disgruntled employee walks into his boss’ office and says, “I’m doing all of this work and being underpaid, we should have a discussion about my salary and what that’s going to look like now that I’ve committed to this company,” that’s authentic.
Taking care of yourself and listening to your feelings instead of stuffing them is absolutely authentic.
But none of this happens overnight. You need to take the time to dig deep and process how you feel – how you really feel – about whoever you think you are and then decide who you are going to be… and then go be it.
Because the alternative is Hell.
The drawback of being fake is you’ll never be happy because your life will be spent always pleasing other people. And, if you’re pleasing other people, you are going to build resentments and always be angry or depressed. Because people will always disappoint you. Especially if they’re the ones out there living their authentic lives!
But, most importantly, if you can find it in yourself to be Real and Authentic, at the end of the day, you are going to feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror. Because you won’t have spent your life living in fear of what other people think or “people pleasing” (because you need to be liked so much).
And at the end of the day... you’ll be free.