To be authentic, I have discovered I need to be honest with myself as well as with others. Hiding behind a mask of passivity when I crave action or saying yes when I really mean no are acts of dishonesty with others - acts that stem from fears of not being loved to feelings of not being enough. These actions are barbed on both ends - some even with poisonous hooks! I suffer but I drag others into the black pit with me!
But, lately, I have been blindsided with yet another layer of authenticity - being honest with myself. How often do I play the game of blinding myself to my own strengths or, on the flip side, to insidious threats to my health and well being? Honestly? - VERY often!
Blind to my strengths - yep - recently I started a writing course - fiction writing at that! This was never my expected choice of genre but it seemed to be calling to me - for about a year - and I made a decision to take the leap. Now, I love to write. I have loved writing from my heart for - well since I was able to pick up a pen in Mrs. Sinclair's Grade Two class and write a story about a red dump truck. The writing part was not the surprise; the fiction writing part was!
I pushed through my little fears ignoring the tiny finger Doubt was shaking at me not to mention the out and out hammering of my heart coming from Ms. Failure. I marched in, smiled brightly and took a seat safely in the middle (not too close to the facilitator to be under her nose but not so far away I couldn't read her eyes!). The topic of the day: imagery. Well, I have kind of specialized in that since about Grade 10 and could conjure up words like "scintillating" at the drop of a hat so I breathed easy and shared my spontaneous writing in class. All went very well - I was in my familiar territory. I looked around and started to hear that inner whisper: "Quiet! Don't share too much! Are you showing off?" I looked down at my writing, listened to the kind, glowing comments and thanked each one.
So, what was wrong with that you ask? Well, I started thinking that maybe I shouldn't share so jubilantly. Maybe it would discourage others? Or maybe they were just being nice because I had a hungry, needy look in my eyes! I started to plan to withhold; slow down; quiet down - become someone I was not! I was lying to myself; shooting myself down; and, in retrospect being dishonest. Playing games with myself should be a win/win - right? I mean how can you lose? Well, playing this kind of game with myself is actually a lose/lose! I lose out on the feedback and encouragement and others could lose out on learning and improving - not because my writing is so fantastic but because we all write differently. We all experience the world differently and it comes out on paper - when we are being authentic!
My second experience was even more frustrating but I am so grateful that the light bulb went on - just hope it keeps shining some light my way for awhile as I do believe I need a big, deer-hunting spotlight kind of light in this area. I have mastered the art of ignoring the obvious and lying to myself about it - day in and day out. I have recently been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance (perhaps Celiac disease but the final results are not in on that one). The diagnosis is recent BUT the symptoms have been going on for over a year. I have ignored my own wisdom; the wisdom of others and my own body, telling me something is very wrong. I have refused to pursue the medical world for more answers and willingly accepted their "You are fine" when the symptoms were ongoing.
This is not the first time - it is one of many times throughout my life. Ignore postpartum depression - you must be a bad mother; ignore menopausal mood swings - you must be a bad person; ignore excruciating knee pain - it's your own fault for gaining so much weight! You get the picture! Now I get it too. I have been very dishonest with myself and came to believe my own lies so thoroughly, I just let my body get worse and worse. Sure, I have been on a journey to health one step at a time; sure I have lost over 60 lb so far (tripped a few times but haven't stayed down yet!, but, here I am, still ignoring obvious problems until my body is screaming so loud, I cannot continue to play the game that everything is OK and if it isn't it is because I am obese - STILL!
Well, how utterly un-authentic is that! The worse kind of dishonesty is when you lie to yourself. Shifting that burden we picked up years ago, the one that whispers and taunts us with not being enough robbing us of the joy of living and, then, kicking it to the curb - that is the miracle of authenticity. Only when you can let all of the "supposed to's" and "should haves" go and just be you - well, then, and only then, can you allow yourself to fill up with joy so exceptional that you won't be able to contain it - and that is a very good thing. It is one part of yourself that doubles the more you give away! Try it! Honestly!
Absolutely most favorite quote on this topic:
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are..." 'The Gifts of Imperfection' by Brene Brown