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July 31, 2020

Is Authenticity Fake Strength?

Is authenticity fake strength?

Is authenticity another way to overshare and accept something in ourselves that doesn’t further our greatest potential? Or is it a means to connect with others in a deep way. The answer is yes and yes. But how do we ride that line?

So whether you are a boss, an authority figure, or just a woman trying to be real, listen up. I’m going to do a little deep dive into authenticity today.

Authenticity is a pretty hot word and many leaders and influencers are judged based on it. Are you authentic enough? It’s funny because I have had people say to me, “you’re so authentic!”And based on the same information, I have had other people criticize me and say that I seem fake.

What exactly is authenticity?

Well…that would depend on what you believe.

Brene Brown, who has become our modern-day “evangelist” for authenticity, shame, and vulnerability states, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” I love, love, love Brene Brown. I have quoted her numerous times, so this isn’t throwing shade at her. But I do have a couple of issues about the definition of authenticity. If my goal is to always just be real, what purpose does that serve? At what point do our aspirational selves come in. How do we get there if we’re always just being real?


Why does Authenticity matter?

By trying to be someone who you are not, you are sending a very clear message to yourself that who you are is not okay.

I’m reading the 4 agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz right now and he is highlighting what I already know to be true about how we are taught from very early on that who we are is not okay. We were taught from our parents, through our religion, from our teachers and by society in general- often conflicting messages, that state that there is a certain way to be. As a result, we have created an adaptive self- the self that acts the way we are “supposed to”- The self that helps us to be functioning members in our world- or even various worlds.

But the adaptive self can run your life if you let it and you can be left feeling worn out, unloved, not good enough, and unseen.

Now, does this mean that we should just let our ID (as Freud called it) or our sin nature (as Christians call it) run the show? Should we all just go dance naked in the streets and give in to all of our instant desires in an effort to be authentic?

I think being truly authentic takes a level of wisdom and deep self-understanding that many people never attain. And I am certainly not saying I am there. It is a deeply pitted dirty and rocky road I am determined to trudge down. And I slip and fall often and stand up with the stains of my fall evident on my body. But I am making my way down the road and I’m happy to walk this journey with you.

I think in order to discover your authentic self, you need to understand why you believe what you believe. If you can’t answer that question, you are operating out of your adaptive self, not your authentic self.

When I first started asking myself these questions, it felt very uncomfortable. I have been taught as a child that certain things are true in the world and for the most part, you don’t question them- especially when it comes to religion or even patriotism. But to not question or even fully understand or decide that you believe something is operating from your adaptive self.

So, first, ask yourself what do I know to be true? What do I believe about myself, the world, etc. And more importantly, why? You need to understand why you believe what you believe. And this isn’t a 15-minute exercise. It can be a long journey of learning and understanding. I invite you to start this journey today.

Next, you have to line up your life with your priorities. And I will be the first to say that I struggle with this one every day. My actions are not always in line with what I say and feel that I believe. I have to challenge myself daily with this one. Sometimes, I can watch my actions as a means of understanding what I believe. Other times, I just have to challenge my actions- when I know that they are wrong.

Tchiki Davis talks about facilitating a conversation with your adaptive self and your authentic self where you actually take some time and allow your authentic self to have a healthy conversation with your adaptive self. Consider thanking your adaptive self for the ways that she had to show up in order to survive in her world and ask her where she feels she has to keep showing up now and why. Ask her how she can let go of the shoulda and allow the authentic self to show up more.

Then there is your aspirational self. I wrote a working definition of a strong woman. That is my aspirational self. I actually try to live up to her. When I am expressing her, I am not expressing my adaptive self, the part of me that feels I am not good enough, that wants to live up to society’s standards of who I should be. I am expressing my aspirational self. Is that authentic? Well, yes. She isn’t truly who I am at all times, but she is who I am intending to be. She is my authentic aspirational self. The moments that I embody her, although sometimes fleeting are the moments when I am living up to my full potential – my authentic self.

There is a saying that says, “ you can find out what a person really believes by watching their actions”. I think this is true to a certain extent. But not fully. You could take a snapshot of my life at my worst times and determine that I am a morally corrupt hypocrite. But that is not fully who I am or even mostly who I am. And it certainly isn’t what I believe to be my aspirational self.

You and I have to walk the line between accepting who we are in this very present and aspiring to be more of who we are as a growth projector- not because who we are currently is NOT enough, but because who we are currently is good enough!

Is authenticity for authenticity’s sake fake?

Yes, maybe it is.

As I strive to be authentic, I have some battles. The truth is that I don’t tell you guys everything about my life. You see a snapshot of what I choose to share with you. When I do share with you, I strive to share the truth as I know it, but I don’t share everything. Even as I write my memoir, I struggle with what to share and why. I try to ask myself how this story furthers my purpose in the book. There may be salacious stories about my deepest, darkest times, but do they serve the purpose of my book, and do they serve my reader? Are they insightful and learning opportunities for my reader or is it just entertainment at my own and my family’s expense? These are hard questions.

Authenticity is a deep understanding of self and a lack of shame expressing it. That is where true strength lies. Random expressions of all your thoughts are fake authenticity.

I truly believe that sharing deeply and darkly can be a means of connection and teaching that can yield amazing growth both in the sharer and the receiver. I have learned so much about myself and humanity through memoirs, my clients struggles and being honest about my own. But there has to be a purpose and a balance.

So as you, strong woman, strive for authenticity in your life, ask yourself the deep questions I addressed today. Have some conversations. And when you choose to share, know your purpose in doing so.

You’ve got this!

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