Early in my career, I worked in marketing and public relations. I wore nice suits and red shoes, sat in corporate meetings and helped executives through their media anxiety. My job was to promote clients and products I didn’t really believe in. I never really liked it but somehow, I was good at it and that kept me going. That’s often the feeling we get when we are being inauthentic—we know that something isn’t right.
“It’s some kind of epidemic right now,” says Stephen Cope, author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. “People feel profoundly like they’re not living from who they really are, their authentic self, their deepest possibility in the world. The result is a sense of near-desperation.”
What does it mean to live an authentic—or real life? Psychologists long assumed authenticity was something too intangible to measure. But Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman at University of Georgia in Athen, decided to take the challenge and came up with a technical description of authenticity as “the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.” Authenticity requires acting in ways congruent with your own values and needs, even at the risk of criticism or rejection. And it’s necessary for close relationships, because intimacy cannot develop without openness and honesty.
Authentic people are honest with themselves first and above all else. They accept their strengths and weaknesses. They are accountable when they are wrong. Authentic living requires you to be transparent and vulnerable, face your fears and inner truth. To be authentic and live your Real Life you have to let go of what is not real—the security blankets you hold dear.
I recently read, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception” by Courtney Warren, Ph.D.
“In my personal and professional life, I have come to believe that self-deception is our biggest obstacle to living a fulfilling life. We are, in fact, excellent liars because self-deception helps us avoid confronting realities that cause us the most psychological pain. In this way, it is actually a good survival strategy to manipulate the truth to be more consistent with what we can psychologically accept”.
The problem is that the lies we tell ourselves come with profound consequences to ourselves, our loved ones, and to our communities. We cannot continually throw our burdens onto others and not expect a backlash. Self-deception is exemplified in our thinking patterns, beliefs, behaviors, emotional reactions, and relationships.
Does it seem intangible—a meaningless cliche? Yet, once you accept your truth, you will see tangible and meaningful results. Relationships will change for the better (although, you can expect a few bumps in the road), your health will improve, your anxiety and poor coping mechanisms will decrease. You will be more resilient and confident and far less likely to turn to self-destructive habits.
Some of my favorite teachers on the subject:
- Eckhart Tolle
- Byron Katie
- Wayne Dyer
- Teal Swan
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