Connecting With The Authentic Self
“Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that.” - Rumi
From a young age I had always wanted to be seen by people. Initially, I wanted people to see me on the television as a child actor. As the years went on I found myself keen to be seen as someone who was doing “cool” things. It really didn’t matter to me if I enjoyed what I did, I just wanted people to see me doing things that we all thought were cool. Such examples included wearing the wrong uniform at school, gossiping and going to parties so I wasn’t labelled ‘anti-social’. “If my peers like me, I must have something to be happy about”, I thought.
The other side of this is the things that I didn’t do, halted by fear of judgement, or nervous that I wouldn’t have enough money to survive if I did the things that really made me happy. Ignoring these feelings doesn’t seem like an option when you’re in the middle of it all, even if that means turning away from something that serves your well-being. For me, things like saying ‘I love you’, singing or exploring poetry. For the most part these actions and habits were inauthentic, motivated by the ego (our sense of self-importance).
The authentic self is the essence of who you really are. It’s your honest truth. It’s challenging to honour the authentic self within the context of everyday life, largely due to our expectation of what our lives should look like. We compare and contrast our existence to that of others, without realizing that our deeper needs are not necessarily the same as those of the people around us. To connect with our authentic self means prioritizing our own genuine needs and well-being. The intention is not to be selfish, but rather to nurture and respect yourself as well as others. We might slip up along the way, which is okay. It’s important to be gentle with ourselves throughout the emotional dips in our lives too.
When we consider the motivation behind our choices (is it out of fear/greed/love/hate?) it makes it a little easier to decipher if we’re aiming to serve the authentic self, or if we’re striving to protect the ego. A common scenario in our lives is that we try to please and serve those around us in order to be seen as a valuable person. While this might look good from the outside, it represses our well-being as we’re not acting in harmony with the authentic self. Often, in undesirable situations we try to make ourselves ‘right’, which means someone or something else needs to be ‘wrong’. So, we manifest anger by pointing blame and insult. In these situations, we’re only looking for re-assurance and safety. Another example is that we are scared to do things that we are passionate about because we don’t want to risk an undesirable outcome, such as embarrassment. Inauthenticity is the ego’s way of self-defence. Fulfillment of the authentic self means less attention for the ego which is why patterns of inauthenticity exist; they’re only trying to keep us protected!
“We’re all just walking each other home.” - Ram Dass
If there were no expectations for you and your role in this world, or If there wasn’t any risk of failing, what might you do in a situation? These are questions to ask yourself in order to connect with your authentic nature. If we reflect on inauthentic patterns we can adapt and listen to what truly nurtures us. It’s expected that we continue to make inauthentic decisions throughout this process of self enquiry (although maybe less so than before) and that’s okay. The ego is always with us, trying it’s best to look good - even when you cultivate an awareness of these habits. If you’re concerned that you might never have it all figured out; go easy on yourself… we’re definitely not going to stop learning in this lifetime!