What does it mean to be a truly authentic person? And how many people do you know actually fit that description? Are you authentic? What stops us from being authentic?
Our authentic nature is revealed in our ability to express ourselves without masking true thoughts and emotions. Diplomacy, people pleasing, fear, avoidance and silence often hide our true, unfiltered self.
Most of us worry what others think of us and choose to disguise or manipulate features of who we really are inside. We all long to be included in our circles of friends and family. Manipulating how others perceive us gives us the misguided assurance that we’ll be accepted and liked.
It’s scary to reveal our true selves! What will people think if they really know who we are inside?
Authenticity demands a genuine sharing of the inner self, irrespective of the consequences. In an effort to avoid certain consequences we may alter our words or behavior to make sure that those consequences won’t be negative or create problems.
Each time we alter our personal truth we diminish our authenticity and inhibit our growth and experience of self-esteem. Moment-to-moment sharing of the truth from the heart requires practice for most. We’ve learned early on that little “white” lies are okay. We’re saving face. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Why would they really care about how I feel?
Our thoughts form a web of excuses that block us from being who we really are at the core—connecting the inside with the outside. What is at risk is our sense of self. Each time we stifle the true voice within—we limit our own development and potential for growth.
Where it all began
Learning the art of mind deceptions usually begins somewhere in childhood. If we experience disappointment, abuse, neglect, alienation, fear—we begin to alter the way we communicate to others to protect ourselves from further hurt.
The problem is that what may have been at one time a creative coping mechanism in our youth may no longer be serving us as adults.
Once we’ve found a supportive circle of friends and family, they want to know who we really are. The masks that we hide behind keep us from having the connection that we long for.
The leap of faith to reveal our true selves may initially take courage, but with practice it gets easier and becomes more compelling.
For those of us that have no problem speaking our truths, the big challenge is to both speak our truth and show compassion for others.
We all find authenticity and vulnerability exquisitely inviting and when we are willing to expose ourselves we are essentially inviting others to do the same. Then we get to develop our true selves as well as deeply satisfying relationships.
How do you know when someone has taken off their mask and is being real? How good are you at letting go of the mask?
You just might begin by observing how you share with others. This doesn’t mean that you need to reveal you deepest, darkest secrets. Maybe practice being with feelings that are difficult to handle and getting curious about these emotions instead of just responding or avoiding.
Do your best to not personalize the outcome of everything you do. Be committed to your development while letting go of the shoulds, musts, and needs to happen. Dare to take risks, reflect and be your beautiful unique self.