It Starts with Love
I read an article the other day that talked about the idea that the desire to “be authentic” keeps people stuck in unhealthy patterns. That the message “just be yourself” is a way of encouraging people to accept everything about themselves, good and bad, with no need to change or improve anything. That being authentic gets in the way of doing hard work.
The implication was that being authentic is a selfish endeavour.
As a coach who helps women discover and embrace their authentic selves, the ideas presented in the article led me to examine what my intention is with my work. It opened my eyes to the possibility that the message “be authentic” could possibly have an unhelpful connotation.
From my perspective, being authentic is so much more than “just being yourself”. If being authentic is narrowly defined as “just be yourself”, then yes, I think it could keep people stuck in unhealthy behaviours. If the understanding is that you can do whatever you want, with no intention or mindfulness, and it doesn’t matter what the impact is on the world around you, it certainly isn’t healthy.
The biggest problem I see with connecting being yourself and being authentic is assuming people in fact know themselves. Research indicates that less than 50% of people actual do know themselves at a core level. We’re so conditioned to look at ourselves through the lens of society and the people around us, we really haven’t taken time or put energy into looking within to discover who we really are.
Being authentic is knowing and expressing your deeply held values, such as appreciation, connection, contribution, etc. Not the superficial things we’re told to value like money, success, and things.
Being authentic is about knowing your decision making preferences. Do you decide with your heart or your head? Do you take in information with your senses or your intuition?
If, by being authentic, you understand yourself, you’re in a much better mindset to understand others.
The other message that caught my attention was we need to start with love as a motivator of hard work and growth. That if we decide to love someone or something, we will be passionate about and do everything in our power to support it. The underlying message for me was that love is to be directed outward and that it’s not about us.
I agree 100% that love is the most powerful motivator. But here’s where I differ. I believe one needs to love herself first in order to share love with the people and world around her. When we love ourselves, we’re constantly putting effort into learning and growing to be a better person. We’re willing to do hard things because we’re not afraid to fail and make mistakes. We’re willing to accept ourselves just as we are today, while still being committed to developing our gifts so we can share them to better the world.
I simply don’t see living an authentic life as a selfish endeavor. The intention is not to just “be yourself” sitting on a sun-drenched patio and having everyone cater to your needs. There’s no joy in that. There’s no love in that. Love flows in both directions. We need to give love and we need to receive love. In order for it to flow from us, it needs to flow to us. If you feel loved for who you are (not who you’re expected to be), you are far more confident to freely pass that love along.
Being authentic is the ultimate expression of love. It’s about taking care of yourself the best you can so you can take care of those you love.
So yes, I say be yourself. But do the hard work to get to know and love who your authentic self is.
*** If you’re curious about the article that got me thinking and want to read it here’s the link. I invite you to share your perspective in the comments.
If you’re looking for help to find more alignment between your authentic self and how you are living your life, I’m here to guide you on your journey. My life coaching perspective is to see you as whole, creative and resourceful. By asking the right questions to explore your strenghts and wisdom, you will experience more peace, joy and purpose in your life. If you’re ready to begin your exploration contact me to set up a free consult.
Trackback from your site.