“We have relationships with everything we perceive, whether that is an object, event, or a person. Our authenticity depends on our authentic response to that relationship, and what is appropriate within that context.
Therefore, authenticity is not ‘speaking one’s truth no matter what,’ but is about responding in truth to what the relationship is calling for.”
What does authenticity mean to you? Your beliefs and attitudes about the concept of authenticity may have a significant impact on the creation and co-creation of your relationships with others. Recently, a Psychology Today blog by Vivian Diller got me to thinking about this subject to even greater depths than I had before. The result? My current thinking goes something like this:
There are three aspects to authenticity.
The first requirement is that my desires have some connection with WHO I am. I wouldn’t get cosmetic surgery for fear of not meeting some consensus standard, or to impress according to some cosmetic standard (though for SOME cosmetic surgery IS an authentic action). I won’t buy a certain brand because others revere it. For me, the aforementioned choices would mean compliance, and compliance is hardly ever my first choice. I am not judging a different approach, but I am saying that for me, that kind of choice wouldn’t fit my idea of a real me. My approach to authenticity requires that the majority of my desires about how I represent myself have connections to my heartfelt and gut-felt preferences.
The second is alignment between my core values, desires, and preferences, with my choices. When I am aligned like this, folks can sense I’m centered and feeling good and I “present” as an authentic person regardless of what I do. Folks can sense realness. I may use the same smartphone as a person next to me who bought theirs just because it is considered cool, but I assure you that I bought mine because it genuinely fits me. You can read more about my ideas on life alignment at my other Website.
The third part is about regulating how much of my inner life I share with others. Whatever amount that is, I allow it to be 100% authentic, BUT, I regulate the amount I share as relative to what I perceive are the “requirements” of the relationship.
In other words, I shoot for 100% authentic about what I reveal, but reveal only what is appropriate to the level of intimacy in the relationship. This reduces the risk of me crashing someone else’s boundaries under the auspices of “speaking my truth” as I have seen so many do. I hope this makes sense to my readers.
On the other hand, as an artist, I sometimes embellish a story in song, or adjust a photograph to get across how I experienced or related to the object, scene, person, or event, rather than relate it as a dry, super-realistic, rendering. Is this authentic? If I am not contriving, and convey my feeling in the art, I believe it is. If I just use special effects to “get tricky,” I believe I’m just executing a formula, and am not as authentic as I could be.
What are your beliefs and approaches to authenticity? What are your expectations of others?
Added Later: I’d like to further clarify something about alignment as critical to authenticity. When our choices and actions (including what we say) are in alignment with and reflect what we really want, we come off more real and more authentic than if we aren’t acting in alignment with, or paying attention to this critical aspect of our lives (knowing and acting on what we really want).
Getting to what we really want isn’t always easy. With the loud din of consensus reality influences (marketing, the news cycle, “authorities”, etc.) in our ears, how to we “cut through?”
I find it useful to ask if my desires are aligned with certain core values that I have. As I am making choices during the day, I get a sense of my direction that includes the following considerations:
Is this desire aligned with bringing more joy (as opposed to “mere” pleasure)? Is this desire aligned with a loving direction? Will this desire bring more freedom, or less? Considering this desire, do I sense a feeling of expansion or constriction?
You may have your own way of “checking in” with self, and I highly recommend some form of this “inner life practice.”