On being authentic

Nature helps us connect with ourselves and with each other.

Nature helps us connect with ourselves and with each other.

I’ve done a lot of study on the subjects of psychology and counselling. Let’s just say that I’m fascinated by why we do what we do and by what it is that prevents so many people from reaching their fullest potential.

Recently, I’ve had rather too much exposure to people who are out of touch with themselves and yet, so blissfully unaware of it. Except that I don’t honestly believe that lack of consciousness of self is truly blissful. It simply coates us with a thin and fragile veneer that convinces us that we, our loved ones, and our manner of being are just fine thank you very much. As someone close to me recently said, ‘I used to be happy being dumb and ignorant, but now that I’m beginning to look beneath the surface and find out what’s lurking there, I realize I wasn’t happy at all.’ Okay, they’re my words, not his. He’d muddled this out over a lengthy and somewhat pain-filled conversation when his inner world had started to fall apart, or more accurately, was beginning to show itself for what it really was. And the picture, as it is for most of us, wasn’t pretty. Confronting aspects of our true selves that are incomplete, ugly, unfinished, broken and destructive, is a courageous act indeed. And make no mistake about it, it feels as though we’re falling apart from the outside in.

Scratching beneath that fragile surface that society’s beliefs and attitudes construct for us, and which our past history cements into an illusion of reality, is a shocking, confronting process. It’s also the only path to authenticity…and authenticity in a nutshell is that which allows us to intimately connect with ourselves and with other human beings. Without an authentic connection we feel alone and afraid – aliens on our own planet. We may say we love our partners, our children and our friends but unless we are giving them the version of ourselves that contains the director’s cut, we aren’t giving them ourselves or our love at all.

That’s not to say we can unleash the beast and foist all our inner angst, rage, insecurities, manipulative natures, selfishness, guilt and unfinished business from our pasts upon our nearest and dearest. What we need to do is to recognize those beasts, look them firmly in the eye and face them down. We may never be completely rid of them as some of these traits are innate parts of our natures, and others have been conditioned by thousands of interactions throughout our lifetimes. Mostly, it’s that old debate – Nature or Nurture. The truth is that it’s a combination of both in varying degrees.

If we don’t recognize and learn to control these beasts, there is nothing surer than that they will control us. We need earnest dialogue with people we trust. We need to retrain our brains and bodies out of years and years of bad habits. We need to put coping mechanisms in place. And mostly we need to learn to come from a perspective of love; something that is much more easily said than done. Which leads me to the next necessary ingredient of the growth progress towards authenticity – forgiveness. Unless we forgive others as well as ourselves, and quite frankly, unless others also forgive us as well as themselves, the path towards authenticity will be exceptionally difficult, if not downright impossible.

More on the nature of love and forgiveness in my next post. For now…love and light.

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