Journey to Authenticity
Authenticity is a state of consciousness. We cultivate authenticity when we are not afraid to be ourselves and embrace our own experience. This often requires that we heal our childhood trauma and the reverse the patterns of self-betrayal that arise from it. Having the courage to be ourselves means that we see and accept our talents and gifts, even though they may not have been seen or encouraged by parents and other authority figures. It means that we learn to believe in ourselves and trust in our own guidance. In order to manifest our unique inner blueprint, we often must risk rejection from others who don’t really see or understand who we are.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Self-Betrayal, Search for approval from parents, siblings, teachers, or peers. A strong need to fit in and be accepted by others leads to a pattern of showing up to meet their needs at the expense of our own, or to the opposite pattern of withdrawing from others so that we won’t experience rejection.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius says to his son Laertes: “To thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” This was, of course, very wise advice, but it is easier said than done. Being true to ourselves requires that we individuate and free ourselves from other people’s ideas of who we are and what we should do with our lives. To be ourselves, we have to detach from our parents’ expectations of us and learn to follow our own inner blueprint.
An authentic person marches to his own drumbeat. He takes the path less traveled, even if it ends in a cul de sac. He learns from his mistakes and finds his own direction. Often, he has to ignore the advice of authority figures, friends or coworkers and listen to his own guidance.
An authentic person makes his own decisions and allows others to do the same. He does not allow others to decide for him, nor does he decide for others. If he makes a mistake, he owns it. He does not blame it on someone else. He takes responsibility for what he says and what he does.
An authentic person takes the time to heal his childhood wounds. If he had too much mommy or daddy and withdrew into his shell, he learns to take baby steps out into the world. He finds substitute authority figures who encourage him to be himself and express his talents and gifts.
If he had too little mommy or daddy and he became a caretaker in order to get parental love and approval, he learns to stop taking false responsibility for others and neglecting his own needs. He stops giving his power away and learns to make his own needs a priority.
If he felt neglected as a child and became a “bad boy” or narcissist in order to get attention, he learns to respect boundaries. He sees how his need to be the center of attention pushes other people away and denies him the love he so desperately seeks.
There are many subpersonalities of the False Self that we adopt in order to survive. All of them involve some kind of self-betrayal and so all must be understood and ultimately dismantled if we are going to be ourselves. This takes years of emotional healing work. That is the price we have to pay if we want to end fear-driven patterns and step into our power and purpose as authentic human beings.
Once we become aware of the unconscious programming that is running our lives, we can no longer continue to live on cruise control. We have to put our foot on the brake and slow things down. We need to become conscious of the patterns of self-betrayal and see that they don’t give us the payback we expect. In fact, they drive us further and further away from the love and acceptance we seek.
Fortunately, our soul will not permit these patterns to continue indefinitely. Sooner or later the False Self will die. If we cooperate, the dismantling of the False Self can happen little by little, as we voluntarily surrender the rigid roles and co-dependent behavior that prevent us from individuating.
If however, we do use our awareness to free ourselves from our wound-driven patterns, it is only a matter of time before Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall and smashes into thousands of pieces. We may have a psychological crisis or breakdown. Often this happens in mid-age when our children are grown, our marriages are in crisis and our work has ceased to be fulfilling.
Whether it happens gently with our cooperation, or harshly with a psychological crisis, it will happen sooner or later. The mask will come off. The shell will be broken. There will be nowhere to go to escape or to hide. Shiva will find us and rip away everything that stands between us and the True Self that needs to be born. And then the Phoenix will rise out of the ashes of the transformational fire.
We will individuate and step fully into our power and purpose. Self-Betrayal will no longer be an option for all strategies of self-betrayal will have been consumed in the flames.
Today accept your uniqueness and honor your own experience even when it is different from the experience of others. Be honest with others and true to yourself. As much as possible, refrain from trying to please others at your expense.
Today, don’t be a caretaker. Let others take care of themselves. Don’t be a victim and expect others to take care of you.
If you are a hermit or recluse, have the courage to come out of your cave. If you are a narcissist learn to validate yourself instead of looking to others for validation.
Today be aware of when you need to “stand out” and be the center of attention, when you try to “fit in” to be accepted, or when you need to isolate or withdraw because you don’t feel that others see you the way you want to be seen.
Today, realize that some people are not going to like you. Some people are not going to accept you or agree with you. Don’t take it personally. That happens for everyone. Just accept that others have a different preference, belief or experience, but that does not invalidate yours. Have the courage to be yourself and follow your heart.
Today give yourself permission to have your own experience. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. On the other hand, do not be invested in how other people respond to you. Let them be who they are. Let them have their own experience even when they cannot support you.
When you find validation within, you are in charge of your life. You make your own decisions and take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. You don’t have to blame others or hold them responsible for the choices that you make. You take them off the hook. And you ask them to do the same for you.
It is hard to be authentic when you are trying to make decisions for others or allowing them to make decisions for you. This is co-dependent behavior and it leads to self-betrayal on both sides.
Today, do not give your power away and allow others to decide for you. Do not misappropriate the power of others by trying to decide for them. Today, maintain healthy boundaries. Understand and take responsibility for what belongs to you and let others own and be responsible for their stuff.
Today’s practice is a simple one. Be yourself and allow others to be themselves. When you see that you are giving your power away, stop and take it back. When you see you are interfering with others, stop and take a step back. Good boundaries will guard against trespass on both sides and affirm and respect the dignity of each person.
In what ways is it difficult for you to be yourself with other people or to allow others to be themselves with you?
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