‘They had connection – as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were. You have to do that for connection.’ Brené Brown, from her TED talk, ‘The Power of Vulnerability’.
Most of us are pretty good at being who we are. But some people try to impress others, or hide from others, by presenting an image, a mask, to the world. The trouble is, if they wear their mask for too long they can become the mask, and lose touch with who they are.
Out of touch with their true needs, they pursue professions unsuited to them, or marry someone unlikely to be a soulmate. And, because they have little insight into who they really are, no-one else gets to know them either. So they find it difficult to connect with people on a meaningful level, and can end up feeling isolated, and empty.
And, they lose confidence in their true self, fearful that if their true self is revealed it will be found inadequate. As a result they live tired lives, having spent much of their energy maintaining their mask. After a while, they might feel they have no centre – no substance – and feel powerless, even though they may be in powerful positions.
If you are tempted to create an image for yourself, be careful. Don’t allow your image to dictate the path you take in life. If you can retain your authenticity you will be more trusting of yourself and of the decisions you make. And, because you sense you are on the right path, you will feel you have substance, and feel safer in the world.
Authentic Self: ‘The authentic self is the ‘you’ that can be found at your absolute core. It is the part of you not defined by your job, function or role. It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom. It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and need expression, rather than what you believe you are supposed to be and do.’
Fictional Self: ‘When you’re not living faithfully to your authentic self, you find yourself feeling incomplete, as if there is a hole in your soul. You may have found that it’s easier to fill the roles your family and friends expect of you, rather than becoming who you really want to be. Living this way drains you of the critical life energy you need to pursue the things you truly value.
’ Stephanie Dowrick.
Q. ‘Can I fart in front of a dignitary and claim I’m ditching the mask, and being authentic?’ You would be trying to prove a point. Being yourself means being honest with people about what you think and feel, whilst behaving within the expected guidelines of the circumstances.
Q. ‘Isn’t it okay to play games sometimes? In the art of seduction, for example?’
Playing healthy games is being authentic. Lying, or creating a facade, isn’t.
Q. ‘How can we gain authenticity?
Applying the keys in the ‘Be assertive’ section will make a big difference. Plus, it helps to lose some of our anxiety about what people think of us. That’s what the next chapter is about. ‘
Make a conscious effort to notice moments throughout the day when you’re trying to be someone you’re not. While it’s great to learn from others and copycat things that have worked for them, taking this too far and trying to be them will result in you losing your sense of self and trying to be someone you’re not. Similarly, contorting yourself to meet others’ expectations will erode your individuality, and break your spirit. Don’t do or say things just because another person does or expects you to; source the need to behave that way from within and if it’s not true to yourself, either don’t do it or tailor it completely to reflect your own self.’
From the WikiHow site.