Authenticity is one of the most important aspects of how we are received by those around us. True authenticity leads to trust and openness, while those who are not authentic, end up being held at arms length and seen as untrustworthy. Most people aim for being seen as authentic – but what does this truly mean? What or who are you authentic about? This must come from really knowing who we are and dealing with the stuff we hide from.
We’ve all come across those people who say one thing and behave in a very different way. Or those who say the right thing at the right time, but there just seems to be something you can’t quite put your finger on which doesn’t sit right. Or those who seem to have experienced what you’ve experienced and thrive on drama and issues:yours, theirs, someone else’s, anyone else’s.
walkedrun away from a challenging relationship where I was constantly being told I “was not who I try to portray myself to be, and if people really knew who I was, no one would want to be around me!” for a while, actually caused me to believe what he was saying. So I stopped being me, and tried to be who I thought I should be in order to be more the me I was being told I should be, and actually not even being me at all, and not even recognising nor understanding who I was being. And the version of me he was seeing seemed so far from the version of me I thought I was, that it was confusing trying to relate to which me was actually in that relationship. A real me? A perceived me? A fabricated me? Who is me??
If you made sense of that confusing paragraph, you can probably read between the lines of how messy it became.
When we are not ourselves, we begin to lose sight of who we really are, and the mind, the spirit, the essence of who we are can only deal with that for so long. Either we give in to it, and totally become an inauthentic version of ourselves, or we fight against it, and re-identify the “authentic me” among all the darkness of being forged into someone else. Don’t let anyone redefine who you are.
In my case, the resilient fighter within began to reclaim who I am!
In an interesting post on the Psychology Today website, “7 Qualities of Truly Authentic People“, author, Stephen Joseph mentions the human characteristics which, to him, define authenticity in people. These are:
- Have realistic perceptions of reality.
- Are accepting of themselves and of other people.
- Are thoughtful.
- Have a non-hostile sense of humor.
- Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.
- Are open to learning from their mistakes.
- Understand their motivations.
A pretty good list! But how easy are they to attain?
It seems to me, that true authenticity has to start from the inside out….but not in a narcissistic, egotistical kind of way, nor in a self-loathing, insecure kind of way either. But rather in a being honest with yourself, real dealings kind of a way.
A bit like when King David writes,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:23-24
To be truly authentic means we have to get real about the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves. For Christians this means learning how to allow the Holy Spirit to shine a light on there. Not to shame us, but to help us work through who we are, as we become even better with His help and leading. Because, let’s be honest, none of us are actually perfect, and recognising this is all part and parcel of authenticity.
How can we be authentic with others, if we can’t be authentic with ourselves. And how can we expect our friends, and those closest to us to really trust us, or our word, if we are unsure of our own hearts and minds.
Re-establishing me, above the messiness of what had been thrown at me wasn’t an easy journey, but here I stand, with my head held high, not hanging low, with the fresh understanding that what you see is authentically me.