The Reflection Series Part 2: What Does it Mean to Live an Authentic Life?

A 3-Minute Reflection on Being Your Authentic Self, and Living an Authentic Life

Photo by Emile Guillemot on Unsplash

When was the last time someone said something to you about being authentic? About living your life authentically, or about being your authentic self? Hm.

I’m actually not even sure how common these questions are, yet, I do know that inquiring into authenticity and our authentic-self is important. Yep.

Right, as this is the 3-minute series, let’s get right into the discussion, shall we? Good. Here we go.

What in the world does authentic even mean?

authentic

Pronunciation /ôˈTHen(t)ik/ /ɔˈθɛn(t)ɪk/ 

Translate authentic into Spanish

ADJECTIVE

Of undisputed origin; genuine.

Lexico

Very well, that’s pretty straightforward. Now, let’s have a quote or two. Here we go.

“To find yourself, think for yourself.” – Socrates

Everyday Power

And.

“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau

Everyday Power

Last one. Promise.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
― Brené Brown

Good Reads

Alright, now, let’s take each of these quotes, one at a time, and work through why authenticity is so important to all of our lives, your life. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

Think for Yourself

Right, so what is good old, well, not old anymore, Socrates talking about here? You may ask yourself, I think for myself every day, that’s self-evident, so? Yet, do you?

What Socrates is pointing to in this quote is the awareness of the realization that oftentimes we think, and make decisions, about our life predicated on something that someone else taught us. Yep. Truth.

Meaning, that in order to live an authentic life, and to be who we really are, we must let go of all of the ideas, concepts, and notions of who we think we are, and create ourselves as we want to be.

What does this mean? Good question.

It means learning to let go of outdated ideas and concepts about ourselves, which were handed to us during our childhood. Yep.

Socialization is powerful. And, unless we do the internal work necessary to let go of these concepts, we will continue to make decisions about our life from these standpoints. And?

We will continue to live a life that someone else has created for us. Yet, it need not be that way. Nope. Being you, the you that you know yourself to be is most important.

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

Being You

In sociology, there is a theory that basically states that part of how we know who we are is by the confirmations we get from others about how we present ourselves (Goffman, 1959). The issue?

When we present ourselves as others would like us to, we are not being authentic. We are being a version of ourselves that other people would like us to be. Not authentic.

What Thoreau is saying is to let go of the need we have, a compulsion if you will, to please others, to be as they would like us to be. Instead, Thoreau is tasking us with being true to the person we know ourselves to be.

Further, to create ourselves again and again, as we want to be, not as someone else expects us to be. That is authentic; and, that is being you.

Photo by Courtney Nuss on Unsplash

Showing Up

Alright, so what is Brené talking about here? What does it mean to show up and be real? Right. Here we go.

When we are authentic, we are authentic in all aspects of ourselves. We own and stand in our strengths and weaknesses. Both. We show up just as we are. Important. Why?

Well, to do otherwise is not being authentic. When we are being inauthentic, we are trying to conform to an idea. An idea of what or whom we are supposed to be. And, that is, well, painful. Really.

It is painful to deny aspects of ourselves under the guise that they don’t exist. Whether that is a strength we are hiding or a weakness we are hiding. Either way.

When we hide aspects of ourselves, we limit ourselves, and we limit the context we are in. Why?

Photo by Julian Rivera on Unsplash

Because we are human. We are supposed to have strengths and weaknesses. That’s part of being human.

However, if we perform, for instance, as if we don’t have a weakness, or an opportunity to develop, we are, at that moment, literally limiting our developmental potential. And, guess what?

It’s totally avoidable. We can choose to be the authentic-self we know ourselves to be. Full of strengths and weaknesses. Both fantastic and boring. Both. And, that is perfectly okay. Why?

Because we are human, and being both fantastic and boring, for instance, is a part of our shared humanity. Better to embrace it and be the authentic-self you know yourself to be. And?

Simple.

When you are true to your authentic self, and you embrace all aspects of yourself, you get to choose how you create yourself next. In each moment, every day. And, guess what else?

When you live your life that way, you are now living the authentic-life you’ve always dreamed about.

Live well. Live authentically.

Citation: Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Doubleday.

#authentic-life, #authentic-self, #authenticity, #beingyou, #brene-brown, #livinganauthenticlife, #reflection-series, #showingup, #socrates, #thinkforyourself, #thoreau

Living a Transformational Life: Authenticity and Vulnerability

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

This week I’ve been reflecting upon authenticity and vulnerability and their relationship with transformation. Though I’ve been reflecting upon authenticity, vulnerability, and transformation in regard to the team I work with, it is impossible to consider these concepts without considering the individual. They are completely interconnected. You cannot have one without the other. They reinforce each other.

I spent many years thinking I was authentic and vulnerable, however, that authenticity and vulnerability were always lived out within a limited framework. When things got too scary, I would withdraw, or hide. Know that many people live this way, some are aware, some are not. I was not aware for a long time.

Being authentic means living in all of your contexts the same way. Where you show up the same no matter what you are doing. Many people have performances for work, for home, for friends, etc. Just like I did. However, to live a completely authentic life, you perform the same way in every context. You are the you that you know yourself to be everywhere and with everyone.

Of course, being authentic in this way, can be uncomfortable for you, and for those around you. Especially if the people around you have a particular view of you that they are attached to, and you are not showing up as they expect you to. However, when you are living an authentic life, and are being true to yourself, you are beginning to live a life without limits.

Limitations are superimposed by ourselves on ourselves when we are trying to live up to a standard that someone else has set for us, whether that be parents, caretakers, partners, or peers. When you remove these limits, by living authentically, you create new possibilities for your life. And, you also create new possibilities for those around you.

Know that those around you may not always want to partake in these new possibilities, especially if they are living in the past, waiting for you to show up in the performance of you that they expect of you. However, that is their expectation, and need not be yours. You can live an authentic life. It is not easy, yet it is there to be lived, and it is transformational.

Living a transformational life, opens you up to a whole new possibility. The possibility of stepping out into the world knowing that there is far more to learn than you could ever know. More, it is actively seeking contexts where you can experience the many things you don’t know. Especially when that learning makes you uncomfortable, which, for me, is the height of being vulnerable.

When we are vulnerable we provide ourselves the opportunity to learn as much as we can while we are living on this planet. And, we also create the possibility that those closest to us also get to live a life full of that same possibility. A life without limitations.

Again, those closest to us may not want to live a life without limitations. For a life without limitations can also be difficult. When you are open to all new things, new ideas, new ways of being and doing, you develop and iterate as an individual. And, when you are around people that do not develop with you, you can find it harder to be compatible with those people, and they you. Difficult.

Yet, this difficulty, is also transformational. It is transformational because through these difficulties you will learn a lot about who you are, and who other people are. I am grateful for those people in my life that actively resist the person I am today. They help me understand more about myself, more about them, and more about humanity in general.

You will also have those people in your life that want to develop with you. Also a transformational experience. Getting to see people develop around you is one of the most exceptional experiences I’ve ever had. It is inspiring, and insightful.

And, when you are around people that are interested in your development, actively participate in it, and develop themselves alongside you, you also get to develop together. Reciprocal development like this, breeds transformation.

Living an authentic and vulnerable life can be difficult, however, the experience you get out of living this kind of life is more than worth while. In fact, I would say that the difficulty, uncomfortability, pain, and uneasiness in venturing into the unknown is really what living life is all about.

For, it is in the experiences we have where our heart rate increases, and sweat beads on our brow, where we know we are truly living. Living an authentic, vulnerable, and transformational life. And, that life awaits you. You just have to take that first step.

#authentic-life, #authenticity, #development, #inspiration, #self-development, #transformation, #transformational-life, #vulnerability

Living an Authentic Life

Photo by Green Ant

Humans by nature live inside of various performances. Identities, or personas, if you will, that have been created over our lifetimes. And, these created personas are learned through socialization.

Socialization is the process of learning about the world, and how you fit into it. Further, it is about the creation of the you that you know yourself to be. It is about learning the rules and “appropriate” behaviors for the myriad contexts we find ourselves in.

From the time we are very little, we are told who we are, what we are to do, and not do, and how we are to behave. We become mechanized into a certain pattern, or habit, of being. And, if we do not get pushed, or stumble on our own, outside of that habit, we will continue to live that way for all of our days.

However, if we are fortunate enough to have someone in our life push us outside of the habitual “me” or we have the same good fortune to discover it on our own, a whole new you can emerge.

The emergence of this “new” you is an iterative development process, which unfolds as you make new choices in familiar contexts. These new choices are not predicated on what you once knew. They are, rather, predicated only by the limits you put on yourself.

When we live within the narrow framework that we were given by our parents, extended family, and school system, we limit our potential. I would know, I lived this way for most of my adult life.

However, when we leave that narrow framework, we can experience all there is to experience in the world. Of course, this means experiencing successes and failures. Thomas Edison has two of the best quotes on failure.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” -Thomas Edison

In order to achieve all that we can, and to be all that is within us, we must experience failure. Yet, most people avoid failure. They are fearful of what it means to themselves, first, and then to others around them when they fail. They do not see it as Thomas Edison did; that, in order to be successful, failure is a necessary and needed component. You cannot have one without the other. Failure is part of the process of being successful.

And to be successful takes the ability to reflect upon oneself. To venture out into the unknown and be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is also something that people avoid, for fear of what it might mean when they make a mistake, or misjudgment, or a poor decision. Yet, just like failure, vulnerability is a needed and necessary component to live the authentic life that is awaiting you.

Authenticity simply means being genuine, first with yourself, and then with those around you. You cannot lead an authentic life when you avoid failure and vulnerability. It is simply not possible.

People know when you are not being authentic. When we avoid mistakes, for fear of judgement by others, people know that you are playing it safe. Playing within your comfort zone. Playing within what is known to you; your lane, your habits, and pattern.

Get outside of your lane, those narrowly defined parameters that someone set for you, and live the authentic life of your choosing. It is your choice. Ultimately, no one can make you choose to live a life outside of your comfort zone, as no one can make you live one inside of your comfort zone.

Whether we are aware of it or not, the life we live is our choice. And, I am inviting you to choose a life that is different than the one that was handed to you. If you are living that life, wonderful. If you are not, also wonderful, as you have before you the choice to live a different life, a life full of wonder. A life that is your authentic life.

#authentic-life, #comfort-zone, #life-lessons, #success-and-failure, #vulnerability