What does it mean to be ‘authentic?’
Authenticity can feel a bit far-fetched in a world that asks for you to be everything but that, despite how much this buzz word seems to be circulated around.
The dictionary would define authenticity as relating to the origin or beginning; preceding all others. In effect, genuine and real, rather than counterfeit. False. Unreliable.
This definition seems to nail it. We were all born authentic. So rather than looking at the movement into authenticity as growth, we like to see it as a return to. Yes, it will feel like expansion. As you are allowing yourself to do and be things that you haven’t allowed for since your childhood.
This is also the place from which we help parents raise their children. Because children are born into the world as their whole selves, they will pick up on all of the inauthenticity or misalignment that the parent carries and fight back on that. Because not being yourself makes real people feel unsafe. They don’t want to trust you, really. As there is a sense of ulterior motives there. Perhaps the motive is a desire to control, to get ahead, to keep things the way you want them to be. Whatever it is, the child WILL notice and respond to just that.
And so, at Raising Humanity, we speak to authentic parenting all day long. Because being inauthentic is exactly what disconnects you from your child, putting the burden of wanting love and approval from others on your own physical and emotional health and theirs. You can imagine for yourself that if you were to have to pretend to be someone other than who you are all day long to garner love and approval, you too would feel stressed. Either unknowingly or knowingly. For many, this happens in the workplace. Or with in-laws. Or in old friendships where the other hasn’t grown. And so, walking around on eggshells becomes the norm. Where the body is in flight or fight, and internal systems can not be regulated.
In our work, we see the effects of a parent letting go of their chronic disease, perpetual anger, or addiction to work or alcohol that they have identified with for decades. We see how much space it opens up not only for themselves to be more fully present to their own lives but to the lives of their children when they let go of the false parts of themselves that have been used to protect them.
What we equate authenticity to is the true presence of life and your natural form within it. For us, it begins with understanding your true essence. We are at a time now on our planet where we are called to be that version of ourselves that we were born to the planet. Yes, trusting, accepting, forgiving, allowing, curious. Not in a child-like way, but with the child-like wonder, awe, and freedom. When we are true to ourselves, we do not fight or push back on the love that is here. We do not also be everything to everyone, but rather those we are aligned with.
Have you ever seen a child being asked to give a long-lost relative a hug? If they do not feel comfortable with that adult’s energy, they will not go forward. Similar to the quality animals possess, in being guided by their intuition. This, too, is our natural form as adults. One which has been forgotten through all of the conditioning we have experienced.
Take time to notice for yourself. Children do not hold grudges. They do not give up as they fall over and over again while learning to walk. And they don’t tuck away their fearlessness and creativity. Until they are told it’s unsafe or inappropriate to do so. Until the love that others show them is compromised based on the way, they may be behaving. And so, this becomes the point at which children begin creating a false version of themselves or developing a ‘personality’ that is more consistent and compliant, to keep others happy.
Remember parents, defiance is better than compliance. Defiance speaks to a child who is willing to fight back on what they feel is not true to themselves. Due to the strong intuitive sense children are born with, they are picking up in the inauthenticity in the parent and fighting back on that.
So, what authenticity really comes down to is a willingness to be seen as you are, in your true nature – yes, the imperfections, the emotions, the vulnerability – rather than the conditioned habits you have learned to garner love and approval from others. Maybe it was to be strong. Maybe to always say the ‘right’ things. Maybe to perform well at work.
Yet, your true nature WILL be unique to you, and only you will know this for yourself. No one else can tell this to you. For only you will know when you feel in sync or in flow with life, by doing what fuels your soul.
Simply put, you will know whether you are being authentic or not by how you feel. For when you are not authentic, you may feel heavy, confused, anxious, and unwilling to live according to your own values. Conversely, living authentically lends itself to a feeling of lightness, an ability to speak the truth without having to rehearse or doubt, and having relationships that truly support your rich nature.
Where we see inauthenticity play out most is in parenting. This is actually where our cycles of inauthenticity begin. Not because our parents do not want us to be free, but because they are operating from the system that they knew. They may have learned that children are here to support family values and ideals. That children are raised to fit into an already existing society. To not rock the boat, to not question what already exists, to not explore their big feelings.
So, we tend not to give space to our children to be themselves, as they are in effect, a threat to our inauthenticity and all of the conditioning we have given into. If they feel their emotions, we may decide that they are ‘bad’ children. If they ask too many questions, we may feel they are TOO inquisitive and this is not a child’s place. If they don’t get a good job, that we aren’t ‘good parents.’
What does authenticity mean to you? Can you think back to a situation in which you felt ‘authentic?’ Most of us can likely relate to situations in which we felt completely at ease in speaking our truth. We felt fine with ourselves, and also ok with the actions of those around us. We felt inflow and fully supported by the universe.
All in all, the suffering we experience on the planet comes from not being true to ourselves. Being inauthentic is exactly what has us stay in toxic relationships, with companies that don’t align with our values, and in friendships that keep us playing small.
This is why it is more critical than ever to move towards the truer version of you.
You can allow those heavy parts of your identity to fall away – that have been carried for decades to protect you, and help you defend against the things you fear being called.
Those are the same parts that are keeping you from authentic connection. Because no one can really see you there, and get to know the real you. Not even you.
It is finally safe for you to be yourself. And to raise your child from that place.
Being authentically ourselves may just be the greatest gift we can offer ourselves, and those around us.