One of the most challenging concepts for, I think, all of us–but obviously I am speaking in the area of recovery–is the notion of authenticity.
What does it mean to be authentic?
How can I be authentic?
My dad, he likes to say, ”You are authentic when you are dead.”
So his definition of authentic has to do with congruency, meaning your insides and your outsides matching. And this is a little bit cynical.
So he says, ”That is only happening when you are a skeleton, because the skeleton is really authentic at being a skeleton.”
Obviously, that is not useful for those of us who are living. Authenticity is one of those concepts that also comes from a particular type of experience.
A related notion–to me–is that we talk about this today: the notion of “flow states”. It is where I am in a state of being where I am not in my head trying to decide how I am going to be. I am not in the future necessarily tripping on whatever anxious ideas I have. I am present. I am here in the moment. And I am being without effort. Being is flowing from me without effort. That is generally authenticity.
Another way in which we understand the concept of authenticity has to do within the interpersonal realm. Am I being authentic with somebody? Am I presenting myself to the best of my ability as I actually am? Am I authentic?
Which is related to the notion of being truthful. And I also like the notion of being truth, meaning am I living and being truth. Am I embodying that to the best of my ability?
Now, as humans–because we are living in time and space and in this cognitive realm where we are thinking and feeling and we have bodies and all this stuff–the reason why my dad says something like you are authentic when you are dead is most of the time we’re not operating from that authentic place. Neither can we just choose to be authentic in the moment, right?
Level of Authenticity
Some level of authenticity finds us in the journey at a particular moment. I mean that deep authenticity that we are talking about.
And so if, as a whole, you understand that you are not completely authentic at your work in progress, which is another phrase we could dissect. If you understand that I am a work in progress–that there are parts of me that are inauthentic but I can be authentic about that–that is a solid foundation to build on towards authenticity. So being authentic about your inauthenticity is a huge part of the journey of recovery and transformation. I think probably at the higher levels but in general.