In this conversation, Kari, I intend to cut right down to the bone—at least it may appear that way for most people, because it’s a topic that is, at best, swept under the carpet… What I’m talking about is the question: “Am I an Authentic human being?”
“But of course I’m authentic!” you might reply indignantly. Well we’re going to work with this word and the importance it holds for those seeking to awaken their consciousness and pursue an Abundant Way of Being.
The word ‘Authentic’ is an adjective used to describe, amongst other things, someone who is reliable, true and trustworthy.
We’re not going to discuss what others might describe you as being, because their assessments and opinions have absolutely no relevance. What we are going to talk about is how YOU perceive yourself.
It’s a powerful word, isn’t it? Almost a call to action: Be Authentic! Nothing will suffice, other than being your true self—the highest manifestation of who you could possibly become! Most people fall far short of this, unfortunately.
s difficult enough to answer this question to someone else, but when you ask yourself: s all too easy to avoid having to answer.
My request of you, our readers, is to take a moment to really contemplate this question and to answer truthfully. And don’t worry, because there are very few saints among us, and I’m the first to admit that I often allow my authenticity to slip below the level I would prefer, although I do possess the capacity to rectify these slips when I observe them occurring—and in this conversation, Kari and I will give you a few pointers as to how you can too!
In order to establish some perspective on authenticity, we need to first take a look at these two questions: “Who am I?” and “What have I become?”
Who are you then, if you were to candidly describe yourself, using a few adjectives? Be completely honest with yourself! Are you caring, kind, loving, nurturing, compassionate; or are you judgmental, argumentative, inconsiderate, a pain-in-the-ass? (I know that’s not an adjective, but you get my point!)
Although I might strive ever so hard to embody the former set of adjectives, I know that there are times when I am all of the latter—hopefully not all at the same time though… Sure, it’s tough to admit the negative stuff, but being authentic is precisely that: having the ability to be completely open with yourself!
What then have you become? Do you represent all of the good you admire in others, or do you just wish you did, and say, “One day I will…” and, swish it goes, under the carpet?
Now we come to my favourite topic: Language! The three words I mentioned earlier: “reliable, true and trustworthy,” represent three critical areas of our language against which authenticity is measured. Can you be relied upon to be on time and to follow through with intended actions? Are you always true to your word? Are you to be trusted unconditionally? Consider these questions deeply and gauge your reply against the expectations you might have of others.
I would like to share my personal experience of how the authenticity of my language was so detrimental to my Way of Being. I was in two long-term relationships where, in both cases, I succumbed to both verbal and physical abuse (yes, it also happens to men!), where I was held meekly imprisoned by my own language!
My authenticity suffered to the point where I believed all the nonsensical judgments levelled against me; I told myself that yes, I was a loser and that I wasn’t worthy of my partner. I concocted the lies that would supposedly save me from wrath. I continuously claimed to be in love with my partner and that all would be just fine, if only I could change to what my partner wanted me to be… I repeated these things to myself each day, until they became my Way of Being! This negative language permeated all aspects of my life, until I had lost all semblance of authenticity.
Was I reliable? No, I couldn’t be relied upon for anything and I never, ever took action to stand up for myself. Was I true? Very seldom—I would answer only with what would placate or satisfy my partner (and others) and I was most certainly not true to myself! Was I trustworthy? By shaping the language of my thinking, through giving credence to the judgments of others, I had rendered myself untrustworthy.
I was a mere shell of a human being, and as dramatic as that may sound, this is what I realised I had become.
Time has passed and I have thankfully gained the wisdom to choose to Be Authentic in every aspect of my life—and this is the reason I’m sharing one of my stories with you. I want to show you that, once the ‘cancer’ takes a hold, the implications are far-reaching and wholly destructive Moving on then…
Normally I don’t like to generalise, but I consider the following statement as pertinent to our conversation: There are two domains that stand out for me, as lacking in authenticity amongst mankind. The first is politics, which I won’t go into, for reasons that are plain to see. The second is business—a domain that affects everyone on the planet in one way or another!
It is as a direct result of people’s in-authenticity in business that there exists such poverty in the world, such an imbalance between those who have, and those who have not. You need to ask yourself what role you play as a human being, whether you’re in business or not. How do you contribute as an individual towards those people on the other side of the world losing their jobs?
Are you conscious of what is happening in the global economy and are you educating yourself as to the plight of your fellow-human beings, or do you say to yourself, “I couldn’t give a damn, as long as I’m okay”?
Now, I’m not suggesting that you become an activist or a ‘do-gooder’ and try to save the world—all I’m asking you to do is become more observant. The more observant you are, the more conscious you become; and the more conscious you become, the more Authenticity you display. The road to Abundance is paved with the cobblestones of authentic wisdom!
I know that Authenticity has played an important role in your life, Kari. Perhaps you could share your observations.
Authenticity! The very word is for me so strong, it is the description of a leader!
“Reliable, true and trustworthy”! The question that appear immediately when reading this, is, to whom?
Your question is a really big one, Guy! It points at the importance of being aware of our own feelings, thoughts and interactions with other people.
In my work and in my life, it has always been important to be open to people’s energy first, before using the logical mind. For me it is so natural, I don’t reflect on it at all, still it raises some very interesting perspectives when it comes to authenticity.
The first that comes to my mind, is: who decides what is authentic? What is our personal interpretation of the subject?
Are you Authentic when you behave like a well-raised human being, doing what is expected? That is what we are taught throughout life, we know the rules and we follow them; it feels safe.
Then what happens if you take this set of rules and use them in another culture—a culture that is completely different from your own?
I have a brother who for many years travelled around the world with business affairs. He had to learn about the culture in the countries he went to, in order to behave as expected and not offend anyone. Was he authentic when that happened? He told me he experienced many odd situations, and it gave him his very own perspective of life and of human beings.
I have clients who work in areas where they do best if they are truly authentic, like police officers. They often have an energy that is very strict, almost a bit frightening. They are right on, life is serious so don’t waste my time! They demand respect wherever they are, simply by energy.
Then I wonder, is this energy a result of their profession or do they have their profession because of their energy? Because, in the end, they always show up as very nice people who trust themselves and know who they are in their everyday life.
What if they ended up, using the same authority in another environment? Are Authority and Authenticity pieces and parts of the same?
I am sure you can agree, Guy, when I say that one of the biggest issues for many people is to take ownership of whatever happens in their life. It is so easy to blame others; our family members, our partner, our friends… We invent drama or we participate in dramas, again and again.
I want to ask you, dear readers: Have you ever thought about how vulnerable you are, if that is your truth? Like you tell us about your story, Guy! I am sure many of our readers can recognise this in their own life story. There will always be someone with another opinion than you, more power than you, who knows more about what is going on with you. The question is, who owns that truth?
And the most important question of all: Do they really know more than you do? About you? Is their opinion your authenticity?
I have several clients that are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Every one of them is medicated in order to ‘behave’ like they are supposed to and every single one of them feels lost because they can not crack the code of what they are supposed to do. Or think! They simply don’t understand the concepts of the rules. (And I have to stress here, that this is not a description of people diagnosed with ADHD, no one IS their diagnosis!)
I asked one of my clients lately, what her intentions were with Kinesiology treatments. She said she wanted to have less anxiety, be a little more sociable with other people, manage to have a proper job, get up in the morning. She wanted to be trustworthy. She wanted to be reliable.
Now, this is a person with a lot of friends. She is in a relationship with a person who loves her very much. She herself loves animals and she once told me that if she ever won a lottery, she would have this beautiful place with animals, where other people considered untrustworthy, or unreliable, could come and feel the love and acceptance from her animals.
Great thoughts. But she went on very quickly by telling me that she knew it was a stupid idea and that she had actually never told anyone about it, because they would believe she was even more stupid than she already had proved herself to be…
Again, how is it possible to be Authentic when other people’s values govern our dreams and values? This person grew up in a family of strong personalities. They knew the rules and they tried to teach her the same rules by judgment.
Now, what is diagnosed ADHD is simply another experience of reality, and know that a huge gift to every society, yet so vulnerable and easy to judge.
As humans we are programmed to copy each other’s body language. Two persons that like each other will automatically copy each other—they will synchronise their movements; they will smile and laugh at the same time; when one is talking, the other will keep eye contact and show their interest with their expression. That is a part of the survival code, an unconscious behaviour that helps us interact with other people, to be a part of the group.
Imagine you tell an exciting story to a person with a face made of stone, with no animation at all. And when you’re done, this person looks at you for a while, still without animation, before he starts talking about something else, without reflecting on your story at all. How would that make you feel?
If you are like the majority of the population, you would feel uncertain, maybe a bit silly. You would probably dislike this person, if you met him for the first time, and excuse yourself quickly, to get away.
If, on the other hand, this is a person that is important to you, like your boss, your partner or a family member, you would certainly try harder to get a positive reaction; be even more interesting; tell an even funnier story, to get a better result! Where along this line do you lose track of yourself and start to become inauthentic?
This is why we prefer to stay with groups where we know their customs. All these unconscious signals we send out—we know them all so well, yet we never reflect on them at all. We just feel good when we’re part the in-crowd, and bad when we don’t match up.
Now Guy, what can you tell us that will be of help, when we try to reach the next step of individual understanding about our own Authenticity?
You raised an important question, Kari, when you took the example of a policeman as epitomizing authenticity. You see, unfortunate as it may be, certain corrupt elements in the South African Police Service have given the police a bad name—indeed the opposite of authenticity.
This led me to contemplating the assumption that an individual’s authenticity is determined by their occupation. A judge, for example, or a doctor… We assume that they must be unquestionably authentic, yet you hear of corrupt judges and fraudulent doctors. The danger is that when people place themselves up on a pedestal, their ego swells and they believe they’re beyond reproach.
On the opposite end of the scale, there’s the used-car salesman, the insurance rep, or a lawyer… Bottom-feeders and the antithesis of authenticity! The danger here is when a person assumes the stigma given to them by others.
People make snap-judgments all the time about people and essentially either write them off as human beings, or inflate their standing in society. There are always those who break the mould—on both sides! Be particularly wary of those who claim to be such good judges of character. Nobody is, I assure you...
As you so aptly pointed out, Kari, no one IS their diagnosis, and it follows that no one IS their occupation either. Don’t let a gold-foiled and embossed certificate or degree hanging on a wall fool you. And also, always give the benefit of doubt to the person who, at face value, doesn’t meet your expectations. Be observant! Open your thinking to possibility! Be Authentic!
I had the good fortune to live in Hong Kong for a period of time and the differences between the Asian culture and mine never ceased to amaze me. When I first arrived, I perceived those seemingly blank expressions as void of character, and the manner in which they seemed to stare so coldly as being rude. I came to understand that this way was in fact most authentic, because Asians (apologies for generalising again) regard people in this manner without developing emotionally based judgments, as we Westerners tend to do.
Back to those two questions again: “Who am I?” and “What have I become?” In light of what I’ve just related to you, I have a couple of choices. If I were to have continued to interpret the Oriental gaze as being offensive, then I would have been wholly shortsighted and completely inauthentic. As it happened I learnt to accept this attitude—in fact I found it a great way to observe people without displaying my thoughts for all to see. It’s funny, because when I returned to South Africa, totally accustomed to this habit, my fellow countrymen found my blank gaze unsettling, like I was seeing them naked. It’s as if people don’t want to bare their soul, in case they’re found lacking.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it, Kari? So many people do find themselves lacking, yet completely without reason!
We should be proud of who we are and what we’ve become, no matter what it may be. Remember, it’s not about what you do, but how you do it!
I recall a newspaper article from when I was a child and living in a city called East London (in the Eastern Cape, South Africa), of a hermit who had lived in a cave near the Nahoon River mouth for over thirty years! He had a small boat and would go fishing in the lagoon every day. This was his life and it brought him contentment and happiness. He probably could have conformed to the dictates of society and got a job, but he chose to be his authentic self.
There are three critical facets to developing your authentic self:
When you are Self-Generating you have the ability to continuously renew yourself by drawing upon resources from without and within. You know the questions to ask. You know how to listen. You control the power of your intent. You are The Creator of Your Future!
When you are Self-Correcting, you develop the capacity to stop, look, correct and take (new) action. You have the ability to observe the difference between what you intend, and the your actual outcomes; between your values and your actual actions, and are then able to bridge the gap to find a Way of Being and Operating that better serves your purpose.
And when you are Self-Sustaining, you have the ability to maintain and grow your Way of Being on a more permanent basis through all the changes and challenges of daily life; becoming an ever wealthier and more powerful human being in line with the fullest expression of who you are for living a fuller and more meaningful life.
During the PowaChange workshop and PowaBase training programme, we explore these concepts in a great deal more depth. I will be frank though, in stating that we can only give you pointers in a forum like these conversations. It’s really up to you as to how serious you are about the questions we pose and how committed you are to defining your Way of Being and then seeking out that change.
So what does it mean to Be Authentic? In essence it means to strive to be the very best interpretation YOU have of YOURSELF! When you look at yourself in the mirror each morning, say to yourself, “Yes! Today is a day for being creative, and for seeking the Abundance due to me! I am a reliable, true and trustworthy human being!” Then you are being Authentic!
So, Kari, what words of wisdom do you have to offer our readers when it comes to the practical implementation of Authentic behaviour?
Well, I did smile when reading your story about your experience with blank faces in Hong Kong. It truly points out how we take our own culture, our own set of rules, with us and expect them to be understood wherever we go. And the insecurity when we don’t get it. Again, we are all programmed to copy each other’s body language, it is unconscious, so you got so accustomed to blank expressions, that you took it with you back to South Africa, and then you had to reverse the process all over again.
It also tells us about the importance of being Authentic, doesn’t it? Because, in the end, that is the only thing we have all the tools for! I always remind my clients of the fact that every single one of us already HAS all we need, we already ARE all we can be. We just so often search for the truth outside of ourselves instead of simply BEING in the moment and by doing so, remembering.
In one of our conversations we talked about illusions, Guy. In order to be authentic, we have to disclose what kind of illusions it is that hold us back. Put a question mark to the experiences you have, be open to the possibility it gives in the process of reaching your Authenticity.
I have a friend who told me that every time she experiences something in her interaction with other people that makes her feel insecure, make her quiet and withdrawn, she asks herself: “What is that?”
Then she simply tries to feel what is going on. And I must say, she is honest! She opens the door so many of us keep closed, in order to see the context of her experiences with an open mind. Why she feels offended, why she feels lost, why she feels resentment and sorrow.
She gets answers. Step by step she understands more, and at some point along the way, what she thought was her authenticity, was what she had learnt in order to survive. She became an expert in reading other people’s unconscious expressions and responds to them, even before they were aware of their expression themselves.
The thing that amazes her is that in survival mode, there was still a small part of authenticity. Because all she had to respond with, was her own. It was her very own history that gave her strengths and weaknesses, and wisdom to find solutions. And to understand that solutions outgrow themselves, so every now and then, they have to be renewed.
When I talk about survival mode, it is something the majority of the world’s population lives in every day! In order to survive, we are programmed to be aware of the fear before anything else. Even when we don’t feel frightened at all, it is there! Every single solution we make is based on our interpretation of fear. The line where you cross over, from being calm to being fearful, can be close to you or far away, but it is there. Your brain is constantly monitoring and interpreting everything to make sure you survive and the more you are in a survival mode, the more you lose contact with your authenticity and inner wisdom.
You now have contact with your inner truth, only what goes on in the world around you. The choices made, are what other people tell you are the best choices; the food you eat is what other people tell you is good for you, the education you take is what other people tell you is the best. And when something bad happens in your life, it is because someone else did something!
To be Authentic is to take responsibility for every single choice or action, every single thought, every word we express. It is to take responsibility for the fact that everything we do interferes in other people’s lives.
You might say, what gives you the right to, lets say, get out of a bad relationship, because you changed the other person’s life with that choice.
What you do is open up for new solutions for everybody who is involved, in order to create more and more authenticity in their life, until you stand there, strong, safe and Authentic.
And just a little reminder… Your expression affects other people, so the more authentic you are, the more you make it safe for other people around you, to be authentic!
There is a Chinese saying, that a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, and that is what I want to talk about next week. To have the courage to take one step at the time into the unknown to create an unlimited future!
(Illustration from Leaguesplash.com)