Authenticity. I’ve got a splinter in my brain.
It’s one of those things that just won’t go away; that nags you day and night until you wake up screaming, “WHAT DO YOU WANT!”
As you may have guessed, Authenticity and Me are currently having a cat-fight. I’m torn. I’m undecided, I am procrastinating, pondering and protracting.
- WHAT is authenticity?
- WHY is authenticity important?
- HOW do I know whether I am authentic?
- AND if I am NOT?
This first came about because I’m now calling myself a Life Coach. When I see, hear or read that, I STILL think of hippies, beanbags, incense and a cheerleader walking behind me singing, “GO TEAM!” (and smacking bad foods out of my hand).
That is to say, I am adding this new thing into me, without losing the ‘My Big Fat…Fat’ Sam, or the ‘Monty Python’ Sam, or the ‘Linkin Park’ Sam, the ‘I.T. Expert,’ Sam and the ‘Ridiculously childish sense of humor,’ Sam.
Am I being authentic when I call myself a ‘Life Coach’?
Stop blathering, woman. Get to the point!
WHAT is Authenticity?
Dictionary.com does NOT help in this respect – ‘The quality of being authentic.” – errr, okay, so there are levels of authenticity? Nope, not going there. Too deep.
According to WIKI and some existentialism sites (this is the interwebz, don’t forget), it means;
“Authenticity is the degree to which an individual’s actions are congruent with their beliefs and desires, despite external pressures.”
Wow, that was easy. Awesome!
So, when an organised-religion-peddler comes to my front door and tells me that there’s a man in the sky with a white beard, judging the dead, I tell them that, ‘I can learn, research, and decide for MYSELF whether there is a man in the sky with a white beard judging the dead, best of luck to you, bye bye now,’ I am being authentic by:
- NOT expressing my belief to them. I believe that religious faith is an intensely private matter. and should NOT be shoved down anyone else’s throat. Ever.
- NOT expressing my opinion about their belief**. For the same reason. Unless they ask for it of course.
- NOT ruining their day. I believe that living mindfully means concern for other people. Human contact and communication is key. I’ve just assertively said ‘no, go away,’ and my door-knockers will go to the next door, unaffected. (also known as compassion)
** Unless they catch me before I’ve had my coffee in the morning. At which point I let rip. Actually, one particular time I let rip, was where one of these people brought a toddler (4 or 5 yr old) along with them, obviously thinking that people would be less likely to say “$£^^ off and £$%^^&* up your £”$%” – if there was a kid around. So I did say that I didn’t appreciate him bringing his kid along as a human shield, to witness the ‘shoving down throat’ of whatever he was peddling.
I apologise, religion probably not the greatest analogy, but there you are. It popped onto the page. I’m writing authentically.
WHY is authenticity important?
“…. you’re honoring the only ‘you’ that will ever exist in the universe, and not wasting that precious chance to let that light shine as it’s supposed to.” – briankim.net
(a bit fluffy, Brian, but okay).
In its simplest form I guess I could say that you, as another human, have your own belief about whether this is important or not (shit, I can feel this is getting deep. ‘No. no, don’t go down ‘there’).
If you are brought up to believe that smoking is bad, but then start smoking in school because all the cool kids are doing it, then you are not being authentic. Of course if you’re twelve, I doubt the brain has the capacity to look inwards and make that distinction. At that age we’re too busy confor— oops there’s the school bell, gotta go.
Also, at that age we have no control really, do we? I loved music. I taught myself to read music when I was seven. My school teachers gave me a special test and said I have a freakish ability for listening (I can count how many instruments are being played in an orchestra, and how many keys are in multiple played chords etc), all just by listening. I can distinguish whether a note is even a fraction out of tune. I could have gone to a special tutor to train to be a conductor. I wasn’t allowed. ‘The three R’s’ were what was important, I was told. So I conformed. (cue violins. Ha. see what I did there?).
Then, we have to place a level of importance on that. My instinctive reaction is that however my past path fragmented – it got me here. Without the three R’s, I wouldn’t be writing this (and enjoying it). And I’m good with that. This is the cue for appreciating what you have, man. Good luck, hippie, I’m off to make a coffee.
HOW do I know whether I am being authentic?
Hmmm. Well, first off we have to have beliefs and desires. I’m sure you do. If not, love, hate to break it to you, but you’re R2D2.
To me, being authentic is acting, communicating and being, in accordance with what I currently believe defines ME. What I feel strongly about. Who I love. What I am driving for.
If I’m offered a job in a place that experiments on animals, that wouldn’t sit well with me, to say the least, because I believe it’s wrong. It’s against my CORE VALUES.
Basically, you’ll know it. You’ll feel it.
AND if I am not?
It might be likely that you haven’t re-affirmed what makes you YOU in a while. Or perhaps you’ve left some of your beliefs at the wayside, because you have to pay a mortgage, or keep someone happy, or not ripple the waters, or ‘be like them’.
Perhaps your beliefs themselves are skewed.
I believe I am fat, for instance. With that comes a set of assumptions (that I’ve come to believe are true) about how I should dress (inconspicuously), eat (secretly), sleep (badly), exercise (painfully) and relate to myself (disgust).
These are the imposters, and it’s the Job of a Life Coach to help others realise these and move past them.
So, errrrm. I’ve just answered the question that I’ve been pondering, procrastinating and protracting upon;
I want to do that. I want to help people with their limiting beliefs about BODY IMAGE, SELF-ESTEEM, WEIGHT LOSS. I’ve been there, I’ve done it, I’m doing it, and I’m about to design the tee-shirt and make the movie.
I AM, A LIFE COACH.