Authenticity has become a real buzz word in the last few years. So much so that it seems that everyone and everything is claiming to be authentic.
But what does it really mean to be authentic. Let’s start by looking at some definitions.
Defining authentic and authenticity
- Oxford dictionary: of undisputed origin and not a copy, genuine
- Cambridge dictionary: it is real, or what people say it is
- Urban dictionary: something that isn’t made up
(I know Ye Old Urban Dictionary is a staple go to for many, so I felt it appropriate to include here.)
- Oxford dictionary: the quality of being authentic
- Cambridge dictionary: the quality of being real or true
- Urban dictionary: being who you are, listening to yourself and making your own decisions, rather than buying all the crap society foists on you
So we have a few definitions…but does it really mean to be true, not a copy of something else, even listening to yourself…how do you do that?!?
I’d like to bring some clarity by offering my definition of being authentic and I’ll dissect it more through the rest of this post.
Being authentic = Acting in alignment with heart
Acting in alignment with heart
What does this mean?
You’ve most likely heard the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’, well this is the first part of my definition. All too often people will say something contrary to what they really mean and what they actually do, other sayings that come to mind are ‘do as I say, not as I do’ and perhaps Lewis Cass’ “people may doubt what I say, but they will believe what I do”.
All too often I observe people say one thing and do another. What causes them to do this? A couple of reasons we’ll explore are:
- Not believing what they say to be true enough to change their own behaviour
- Believing they don’t have to, i.e. it’s a directive for others not for self (possible underlying belief that they already do it, but perception from others is that they don’t)
So let’s assess these both against “acting in alignment with heart”. How do 1 or 2 above stack up?
- Against number 1The individual is communicating from their head not their heart. This can happen when they themselves have been told to do/communicate something which they don’t see to be true – “why should I do it, if you’re not doing it”…this leads to a very toxic cascade.
- It can also happen when the individual’s personal beliefs are in conflict with the message they’re communicating. As such have trouble changing their behaviour.
- Against number 2There is a play of ego and authority versus heart. Now there is a touch of number 1 in here too…but it’s essentially when you obverse a person talking and acting in one way in public and then in complete contrast in private. This can come with them telling you how you should be acting, what managers are supposed to do, but they themselves have a belief that they don’t have to.
- Granted, this is a quick and dirty explanation, because I know having worked with lots of individuals that there is more to it, usually deeper seated beliefs that are creating these behaviours.
Connected with heart
So the first part is doing and behaving in a way that you expect other to, leading by example. The second part is knowing and feeling what is right.
To do this, one must first connect with heart. You may have heard of the saying that the heart is the seat of the soul. The heart energy centre is a connection to everything at a level of love, joy and peace. Through this centre we FEEL what is aligned with our life purpose. When we make decisions and operate in alignment with our life purpose we start to experience states of flow instead of retraction or tension.
The challenge most face is that they use their heads too much to make decisions to direct them in life. Your head…brain…mind is incredibly important for creation, but the feeling through your heart tells you if something is in alignment with your highest good.
How might you experience your connection with heart?
You know that gut feeling you sometimes get when you’re about to make an important decision? You instantly, as soon and the need arises, have a gut feel for what the decision should be…and then some other stuff happens. You realise you have a few minutes, hours, days to make the final decision…
So you start to think about all the possible future eventualities (conscious mind).
You decide it’s best to do some research, and question which one is best, going back and forth as to whether or not the options you’ve come up with are any good (analytical mind).
You then start reflecting on similar experiences you’ve had in the past – you remember what you did, the outcome of that situation and how stressed out your felt (subconscious mind). You start to feel little stressed now (your body recalling the chemical signature of that previous experience).
All the while, every option you look at that is contrary to your initial gut feeling, makes your stomach feel a bit funny. You have a bit of an ache in you gut and you put it down to the big lunch you had. It’s still there the next day, so you reside to “maybe I ate something that was a bit off”. Continue making decisions that are out of alignment from your life purpose and you continue to experience various physical upsets until they are ‘this is just how my body feels’, ‘I’m not as young as I used to be’, ‘I used to be able to eat and drink anything when I was younger’.
Guess what?!? You’re not wrong…the build up of stress in the body makes it more and more challenging to deal with new stresses…so you’re body does age.
Increasing connection with heart
Start by reconnecting to that gut feeling. Remember the last time you made a decision that felt right and it all worked out amazingly! Tell and remind yourself “I trust my gut/instincts”. Then have a play, when you have some smaller decisions to make follow your gut choice, for larger decisions write down what that gut feel was, so if your mind intervenes completely and you start to analyse perhaps you can look at how to make your gut feel work.
Acting in alignment with heart
So there you have it, being authentic means being the example for what you expect in others and being connected with and acting in alignment with your heart.
Though my own experiences, I can assure and confirm that being authentic bring an immense amount of flow, creativity, love, peace and joy for life. So why would you want to be anything but.
Be your best,