Balancing out your authentic self with what the world demands of you. How much of yourself do you let go of?
What’s our Authenticity
Ever since I was young, I was a people-pleaser. Grappling with the constant effort to present my best self, doing my best, and being able to deliver according to what is expected of me has always been one of my biggest life struggles.
Hence, being inwardly competitive with myself is an ingrained part of me that I wish would fade as more responsibilities of adultness is piled onto my plate.
That’s a dangerous personal path because what I stand to lose as a person will be more than what I am willing to give up: myself. At stake is my authenticity.
People change, I’ve been told and have seen/experienced for myself. Circumstances, places, your favorite restaurants, that zany memory-filled old building block that reminds you of your favorite hangout place, your old home, your friends, and your family…they’ll change. As these external circumstances change, so will you.
While there is nothing wrong with change because we will all need to follow that path of breadcrumbs to something more awesome, much of your thought patterns, emotions, reactions, and the hologram of yourself will pretty much remain the same. Every time something changes, we need to step out of that little box inside of ourselves and start navigating something new.
Along with it, you’ll feel happy, sad, delirious, angry, disappointed, elated, inconsolable…or all of the above within a short span of time.
But this is what must happen if we want to continue tasting our souls, our inborn personality, and ourselves. Because we are not comprise of just our thoughts and circumstances and include our emotions, instincts, reactions, and feelings, it’s absolutely crucial to experience all of those without losing touch with our innermost values, being, personality, and emotions.
We can change the way we behave in front of others, at work, or throughout our career but the deepest part of ourselves, our authenticity, should suffer as little as possible. Like a small child, we should spend time to deliberate and help it understand new things so that it doesn’t slither off dejectedly into a corner feeling left out and abandoned.
I’ve been told that this is the only way to keep your ground and place in this world without losing the innermost authenticity.
Positive and Negative Emotions that Make Us Us
Even the evilest person in this world has a part of their minds that is the purest. This could also be the residence of some of their biggest fears, anxieties, and threats. Experts believe that this could be the reason some criminals carry out the damaging, despicable acts that they do…out of that instinctive fear.
Although we are made up of more than just our minds, a mix of the voices in our heads and the ones from those around us help us develop throughout our lives. That’s why some people change so drastically.
What I think many of us lose as we grow up is the ability to believe the purest source of information in our being…and that is the silent intelligence made up of both the voices in our heads and external input that rams their way into our lives consistently.
The reason why I think we should believe our inner and sometimes silent intelligence is that it has been absorbing information, feelings, emotions, and thoughts throughout our lives. Since the day we were born. From the moment we enter the world under the blinding glare of hospital lights in the labor room.
“Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal.”~I Ching
I learned that there are cells in our bodies that process around 37,000 BILLION chemical reactions every SECOND. That’s a damn load of things to process but it is what keeps us alive, including the task of keeping us breathing, heart pumping, liver functioning, and thoughts fleeting through.
And this is all happening without our conscious knowing, while we’re distracted with everyday life. It’s happening when we’re paying our bills, getting to work, cooking dinner for the family, distracted with the soapbox, griping to our friends over the phone, or having an after-work beer with our colleagues.
The more disconnected you are with what’s happening inside of you, the more unhappy and empty you will be with what you are or become. I know it sounds scientific or woo-woo but let’s give it a chance and sit down to think about it.
Being disconnected from our real selves can sometimes be the kind of soundtrack of the day that changes our core systems. Giving ourselves that PAUSE can also give us perspective as exemplified by this article by Amaya Pryce in this article, The Power of Waiting When You Don’t Know What to Do, in TinyBudda.com
Making the Personal Connection
Transitioning from one phase of our lives to another is quite an experience. We might lose our sense of authenticity when something does not work out or situations change. For instance, when we break up with someone we thought we will be spending the rest of our lives with or when we feel unhappy at work.
You might, like I did, find yourself staring off into space or into the mirror, thinking ‘What am I anymore?”, or ‘I don’t have to be happy about this, I only have to live this’.
Don’t let this be our breaking point.
It is an important part of growing up, transitioning, developing, improving, and becoming a better version of ourselves.
But if we disconnect from that innermost part of ourselves, we will soon become unhappy with our journeys. I am only assuming that this has something to do with what we call a mid-life crisis, or result in a sudden change in career, or the experience of hitting puberty.
If we totally disconnect with what we really are, it’s only a matter of time before we hit a roadblock. BUT if we constantly check back with our most authentic selves, we may realize that nothing is perfect and there are things we can change towards our journey. If you constantly check in with yourself, you’ll feel like YOU are important, honored, and respected by the most important person in your life….YOU.
And isn’t this the best way to live? When YOU are acknowledged by you?
But, giving up other people’s definition of success is incredibly liberating and ultimately leads to the fullest expression of who you are and what matters to you. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s a daily habit of comparing less and creating more.”Anthony More on Medium
The Full Spectrum of your Belief System
There will be part of your life that you don’t want to remember or acknowledge. The panic attacks, the 3 years in a war-torn country, the 6 months after you are laid off, after the divorce and losing custody of your kids, or the few drunken years of life.
Also, there’s no better person to learn about the importance of living life right than from someone whose been there, right? So, here’s an article, I Just Turned 55 — Here Are 10 Life Lessons I Wish I’d Learned a Decade Ago from Laura McCamy at Business Insider
I spent years escaping from my failures and vulnerability to life outside of my control and I can tell you that they’ll lead you nowhere but into the depths of despair if you keep trying to escape from them. Why? There is no escape route for them. They’re an ingrained part of you now.
Don’t think of them as an endemic you need to cure. Instead, think of them as putting in the paces as an impartial self. Give the experiences the kind of respect it deserves and don’t judge them.
Emotions and experiences help us move our lives forward and they’re absolutely sacred. Fighting them will turn them violent and ignoring them will make them reappear some time later in a scarier form.
I’ve come to realize that if I want to be the real me, as authentic as possible, ALL aspects of my life deserve my attention and I should embrace them. It gives you so much more power when you say to them, ‘I accept you’.
Authenticity in the Real Modern World
All of us want to believe that we are 100% right. We are pure. We are great. And nothing is wrong with that because, at the core of it all, we are right.
But that gets tricky when we have to deal with a whole barrage of negative comments on the internet!
But let’s not forget that we can also be wrong, judgmental, make mistakes, have scary shadows to face from the past, and have made the wrong decisions in life. Some may be misfortunes but many of them were transcendental mistakes.
We are only human.
And this part, I am not afraid to admit, is something I continue to struggle with. So, struggle with me if you agree.
Make peace with those parts of ourselves. Learn to admire the whole picture…your entire being, warts and all.
When you look in the mirror, see yourself for what you are and admire it. Not in the cocky kind of way but see the whole picture. Your true self consists of, whether you like it or not, all those awful, scary shadows of your life AND your achievements. It also includes stagnated stuff, insecurity, fear, beauty, accomplishments, and flaws. THAT is the whole picture.
And because we all have limited time, resources, and energy, we can better decide (right there and then) the next step and direction we wish to take. Even when you feel unsure about it or when you have contradictory feelings, there’s so much more substance in what you see.
From here on, the role that you play in the world is based on your authentic self.
The Sacrifices We Choose to Make
You don’t have to be an economist or businessman to know that in order to achieve something, there are opportunity costs. We must let some things go and believe that we are moving in the right direction.
We cannot carry all the baggage and make it into the next phase. Have a read of this awesome article about the 5 things we must sacrifice to have a better future on Medium by Anthony Moore.
I guess this is where our real intelligence comes into play…our instincts. Our instincts, our gut feeling, is the very thing that pushes us off the cliff between being unsure about something to making the leap.
Your instinct is always on your side. Unless we have a bad relationship with it (and I’ve struggled with the same thing and seen some people with really bad relationships with their own instincts), it is always ready to help us achieve our goals and make us happy.
Our instincts will also let us know what to sacrifice along the way. It’s our most loyal ally.
For me, if I have to give up my family, values, or work, I will be setting myself up for mental imprisonment. So, these are the things I will not, under any circumstances, sacrifice. But if I had to sacrifice night outs with friends in order to achieve a better life, then so be it. If I have to sacrifice the freedom of working from home to move the needle forward in my career, then so be it.
So long as I am allowed to be myself, live an authentic life, embrace every mistake that I’ve made, hold onto my values, then I am ready to pay the price. Sometimes, it’s not easy because the world expects a lot from you and you’ll be tempted on a daily basis.
It also does not help that we put stress on the pedestal. I try not to.
If the sacrifice involves losing an important part of yourself, I don’t think you would make that decision at all either. For instance, if it involves encouraging drug use or selling products that runs against your personal belief system, is it a price you’re willing to pay? If yes, how much and for how long?
That’s why I think it’s extremely important to check in every day to see if you’re actually walking along a path that will set you up for an imbalance or one that will make you feel like you’ve done your best.
Note: Thanks for reading this far! I am truly happy you did. If you, however, find anything offensive, grammatical or factual errors in this article, please let me know by completing the form below or drop me a note at marshamaung at gmail dot com. I’d be happy to hear from you!
In the meantime, you might want to check out some of the other articles I’ve written thus far below and let me know what you think. Please do check out my social media accounts if you want to follow me for more insights and thoughts. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, Instagram and have a personal blog where things are less filtered. =)
- Making a Good First Impression
- How to Become a Faster and Better Writer
- Living The Creative Life
- Podcast: Why Do People Become Entrepreneurs
- This Year is the Year of Company Branding Love