(Part One of a Two Part Series)
It's one of those buzzwords that makes eyes roll and bodies cringe whenever it comes up in a workshop or seminar. The culprit, I believe, is the over-use, miss-use and abuse of the terminology.
And that’s a shame. Because it tends to bring down the shutters on a topic that most of us would do well to think about from time to time.
Like many people, I used to think that having authenticity made you someone who operates at a ‘higher’ level than most. It was a quality – a way of being – that we should all possess. Something that makes us ‘better’ people.
So it probably won’t surprise you to know, I also assumed that inauthentic people were fake. Two-faced. Weak. Not to be trusted. Lacking.
Of course, most of us would like to think that we’re the real deal. And that the problem exists somewhere out there – with other people.
But, moi? Surely, not!
Believe me, authenticity is not as second nature as we might want to believe!
As I have found through doing my own work, and in the work I do with clients, deciding to ‘Walk Your Walk’ every single day is a conscious, intentional choice.
It's certainly not an easy option. And it takes practice.
Why does authenticity matter?
Authenticity is one of the most important keys to a fulfilling life.
When we know ‘who we are’, when we act in alignment with ‘who we are’ and when we express ourselves honestly as ‘who we are’ in our interactions with others, life becomes a lot more satisfying.
There is generally a greater sense of clarity and freedom in our lives; a feeling of flow and ease. Decisions become more straightforward to make.
We may hear ourselves talk of feeling more grounded, balanced and contented. And the people in our lives appreciate it too.
It’s not that we no longer experience the inner frictions, confusion and angst as we did before.
We simply learn to recognise the signs of dissonance when they appear. And we can then take the necessary steps to re-calibrate with our true selves and get back on an even keel.
Do you Walk Your Walk?
When it comes to discerning what is authentic behaviour and what isn’t, our minds often go to anything from the telling of corporate untruths and operating under fictional CV’s, to extensive use of Botox and photo-shopping our on-line profiles.
We tend not to think of these examples:
- following a career path that we hate, but fell into;
- staying in a relationship because we don’t want to be alone;
- not pursuing a dream for fear others will laugh/criticise/judge;
- holding back from expressing our opinions in case we look stupid;
- agreeing with the boss to appear like a good team player;
- failing to ask for what we really want for fear of rejection;
- compromising our needs to please others or gain approval;
- and the list goes on!
Perhaps there's less public drama and headline news, but these situations are a lot more common and familiar to the majority of us.
Not to mention extremely harmful to the quality of our lives, and our relationships.
But hang on - if you have to practise being authentic, doesn’t that really mean you are mostly ….. inauthentic?
The answer to this is, No. It’s not as black and white as that.
We all have the capacity for living our lives authentically, but what about those days when we’re gripped by forces that prevent us from allowing our true selves to show up and be seen?
Those days when we feel insignificant or shameful; when we feel powerless to affect anything; or when we really don’t know which way is up.
I’ve had one of ‘those days’ more times than I care to remember.
Did I then go ahead and show up as my most authentic self? Probably not.
It doesn’t make me a bad person. Just human.
The trouble starts when 'one of those days' start to become the norm, or when we know we've over-stepped something highly significant, that our conscience won't let us forget.
For me, the early warning sign that I've let myself down tends to manifest internally as a sick, pitted feeling in my stomach. For you, it might show up differently.
One thing's for sure, if I try to ignore it, the universe will keep on sending me the same old challenge again and again - until I finally learn my lesson, and honour my truth!
So here's the thing. You weren't put on this planet to be like everyone else.
No living species is exactly like any other. But each has its place.
You are a unique, gorgeous, talented bundle of amazing-ness - and you matter!
You have a role to play. And a voice that needs to be heard.
Yes, even if you don't have all the answers. Yes, even with all your weirdness and flaws.
Actually, because of them. :-)
The world needs all of us to come out from behind our masks and take a stand: to follow our truth, and not play it safe all of the time.
Worth the Risk?
There is always a personal price to pay for not Walking Your Walk.
And ultimately, that’s a dream of life that ends up falling short.
A life of beige, where we end up tolerating the intolerable.
Unless we're prepared to take a risk - and claim it on our own terms.
Are you prepared to Walk Your Walk?