authenticity Tag

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Being and Acting with Authenticity: What’s the Difference?

There are two ways I look at authenticity. I look at general authenticity as a state of being. I want to be an authentic person when I wake up every day in my life as a ground and as a foundation. 

 

So, that is one journey of authenticity. 

 

Then there is, “How am I authentic in the interpersonal realm?” Meaning how am I truthful or expressing honestly where I am interpersonally?

 

And so, let us start with the second, because I think it is more complex. 

 

I do not walk around with a great concern for being authentic in many areas of my life. So for instance, when I am getting in the elevator to go to work–to go up to my office–and somebody else is in that elevator. I do not go, ‘Oh my God. Am I being authentic when I say hello? Do I mean it when I say have a great day?’ 

 

That is called decorum. Those are little social games that we play. It is not necessarily wise to always be authentic there. 

 

You do not have enough time to be that authentic at every relationship that you have. In that sense, I am not interested in being authentic in a lot of interactions in my life. 

 

But, with my wife, children, friends, coworkers, and, often with my clients–if I am an artist–I want to find some authenticity. 

 

As I am speaking here with you, I am hoping to be touching upon something authentic inside of myself while I am doing that. So in that sense, there are a couple of things that I need to be able to embody. 

 

One of them has to do with clarity. Do I know who I am and what is happening with me? Am I aware of that? Because if I am not aware, how can I be authentic? I know who I want to be or who I don’t want to be. 

 

I want to be compassionate, kind, caring, thoughtful, strong. I mean, I have these descriptors. The idea of the person I want to be that I am shooting for–and I aim towards that in my being, right? And am I authentically moving towards that ideal in my interpersonal interactions? 

 

That, for me, is probably one of the most important parts of being authentic. My friends and the people I want to be around have some ideal of authenticity that they are shooting for, and, obviously, that ideal also has its own particular, cultural, and individual dimensions to it. So, my authenticity, although we might share the idea of wanting to be compassionate, kind, strong, loving, etc., also might be: 

 

  • I like to play and have fun
  • I would like to talk shit
  • I like jokes 
  • I am very musical
  • I like to walk a certain way and that is my spirit

 

There is my spirit of authenticity

 

Then there is the platonic ideal of what I am shooting for in my interactions. The other category which we talked about first–which is my general desire to be an authentic person. And I really just think about that as feeling whole and complete. Intact and having a core self. 

 

Then, obviously, being that core self in the world.

 

 

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Keys to Living Authentically

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.”

 

Authenticity

 

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.

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