“Be Yourself” is more than a good advice to give. Welcome to the age of authenticity, where we are creating our very own meaning and purpose in life. Various dictionaries agree that authenticity describes the quality of being genuine and real – from antiques,leadership,relationships and the way we communicate with ourselves.Authenticity goes hand in hand with integrity – thinking and acting aligned with one´s personal values and beliefs. Furthermore, integrity describes a state of being whole. And this is what we are striving for – because that is what we truly are. What authentic is or not remains an individual experience and interpretation,though.
Anyhow, I bet we all have experienced situations or even had life-changing insights when we realised that we are sometimes not really being ourselves and act like we would like to. And as humans, we are pretty good actors, playing different kinds of roles in our interactions with others. The sociologist Erving Goffman opens up the dramaturgical perspective. In this view, the self is made up of various parts or roles that we play in our interactions with others. We – as the very social actors- present the multitude of our selves in ways that create certain impressions and somehow we manage to sustain them. Therefore, we all are standing in front of an audience, just like in a theatre. And of course, there is a backstage, where we can drop all masks and be ourselves.
There is no doubt that we are all shaped by certain social expectations and conditions, may they come from the society at large or from our close relationships. We act according to stereotypes and archetypes. Sometimes we do so for the sake of keeping up the social cohesion and it actually doesn´t bother us, but often we also think we “should” act and behave in a certain way. Because we believe that this is what is expected of us and how we are supposed to be, no matter how much this differs from our own wish to present ourselves – and to be ourselves. The minute we start with the shoulds, that is when we become more and more inauthentic and feel like we are wearing a mask.
In Yoga philosophy, the famous Sutras of Patanjali teach about yamas, so-called ethical conducts for a fulfilled, peaceful and joyful life. One of these yamas is Satya, the instigation to think, act and speak with integrity. Deriving from the word Sat (that which exists, that which is), Satya means seeing and communicating things as they are. And with things being as they are, Satya also means truthfulness with our feelings,thoughts, and actions that we take.
Like Satya, authenticity requires honesty with Self. And acknowledging that we often do act in ways that are not aligned with our values or what we actually want is the first step. So in order to be authentic , we first need to be inauthentic and come the conclusion that we are. Following this path up the road, authenticity is all about communicating and creating a compassionate relationship with yourself. This includes the lesson of vulnerability. And that one is not about making yourself vulnerable to others, but more about embracing your own vulnerability.Brene Brown conducted a research and found out that vulnerability does liberate us from the need and pressure for perfection. So eventually, with a few stop-overs and lessons to learn and to repeat(and repeat), authenticity is the epitome of oh yes yes Self-Love.
And one more: Being authentic moves you away from the head and all that thinking stuff. Often our personal worlds become all chaotic because we simply assume and think way too much. And yet, most of the time we actually don´t know. And what a relief not -knowing can be I tell ya !
Practising authenticity connects you with how you feel in each and every given moment. While you can have a set standard of values that you are sticking to, authenticity is about what you are experiencing now now.
Discovering and aligning with your own truth sets you free. And as a big plus, being honest with yourself and creating the relationship of your life (that one with you), puts the key to intimacy with others in your hand. Into Me I see is the foundation for any relationship. Owning our projections and emotion , being in touch with our wants and needs does pay off!
However, being authentic and honest in your communication with yourself and others is not giving you a free ticket to act like fu**dge. Here, the wisdom of Satya comes into play again. Satya is based on the first yama,Ahimsa. Translated as non-violence, Ahimsa teaches respect for all living beings. There is a fine line between being brutally honest and being authentically honest, with the latter presupposing communication with yourself first. Question your intention behind your words – and if you really have nothing nice or productive to say, it is advisable to better shut up.*
Words are powerful beyond measure – and with allowing yourself to speak your truth, you´ll get closer and closer to living your truth.