“Think of a little child that is given a taste for drugs. As the drugs penetrate the body of the child, it becomes addicted; its whole being cries out for the drug. To be without the drug is so unbearable a torment that it seems preferable to die. Think of that image – the body has gotten addicted to the drug. Now this is exactly what your society did to you when you were born. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life namely, work, play, fun, laughter, the company of people, the pleasures of the senses and the mind. You were given a taste for the drug called approval, appreciation, attention.” ~ Anthony de Mello
In my previous post, I mentioned Carl Roger’s term ‘conditions of worth’, that our sense of self-worth are shaped by our early upbringing by our parents, and our encounters later on in life with the people around us in society. We swallow society’s demands without digesting the implications, and the gap between ‘who I am’ and ‘who I think I should be’ becomes too wide – dishonoring your authentic self is like living two selves.
How do you know if you’re living two selves, or dishonoring your authentic self? Reflect truthfully at the following questions:
1) Are you able to express your opinions, ideas and thoughts openly and honestly?
2) Do you compromise your own desires and values to avoid upsetting others?
3) Are you confident about making your own decisions and standing by them?
4) Have you experience difficulty in owning your success, dismissing them or attributing them to luck?
5) Do you feel that you are living your life according to someone else’s rules?
6) Do you constantly worry about what others think about you and whether they like you or not?
7) Do you constantly worry about meeting others’ expectations of you?
These questions would give you an indicator that whether your authenticity needs closer attention.
You may feel pressured to be someone you are not, distorting your self-image to project to the world out there to fit in or to please certain people in your life.
What Are The Stories That Shape You?
The origin of the word authenticity can be found in the latin word authenticus or the greek word authentikos, meaning author. Therefore, being authentic means to be the author of your own life. You provide the authoritative voice that shapes who you are, to write and rewrite your own stories.
Real authenticity is the freedom from being held hostage by the need for approval, attention and appreciation. It is free from attachments to achievements and results – they do not determine who you are. It means to express your true story while connecting to your deeper self, willing to be naked, knowing that things like judgments and criticisms cannot affect or hurt you.
Many psychologists also share the view that we can reclaim our authenticity by being the author of our stories, not a mere character within the story. The process involves clarifying and, where necessary, rewriting the story.
The most important story you could ever tell is the story you tell about yourself to yourself.
Here are the 2 stages of rewriting your own story:
1) Identify your current story that support inauthentic living
Choose an area(s) of your life that you want to edit your story as the context.
Who are you in your story? Who are the main characters? What are the limiting views of yourself? What isn’t working for you in your story? Which part of the story contributes to your inauthentic self? What and who influenced your story? If the story trajectory doesn’t change, how will it end? What are the voices in your story that are disempowering, and need to be discarded?
Be as honest and open as you can be. Notice how your current dysfunctional story makes your feel.
2) Rewrite your new story to support authentic living
Write your new story that reflects and connects with the true self that is free from external expectations, opinions and judgments. It should align with your authentic desires and the things that you care about, things that matter to you.
Your new story is future-based and should be empowering and move you to hope-filled actions with new inspiring possibilities.
Thank the old voices that were trying to protect you (for whatever reasons). Turn the volume dial down as they don’t serve you any longer. While staying center and grounded, summon your inner voice of curiosity, compassion, conviction, courage and creativity as you write your new story.
Remember: it’s YOUR story and nobody can tell you how it is supposed to go. You are the creative power and driver behind your story. You are the director and the lead character. You also provide all the special effects and expert editing.
A good way to begin writing this is, “The truth of my story is…….”
Living Your Authentic Story
How does your new story makes you feel now? You can rewrite it until it reflects your true self, authentic desires and compelling future. Include clear action and concrete steps you can take daily to live out your story.
Let your story be placed somewhere visible where you can see often and read regularly, but it should be private, not visible to anyone else except maybe, your accountability partner – someone who can support you in your journey.
Reclaim your authentic self by living your new story and it will become your new reality.