Being unapologetically you
In personal growth communities there is often an emphasis on authenticity. It seems to be one of the popular themes in the spiritual and relational world. Its fascinating that authenticity, or, simply being unapologetically ourselves, is something that we have to “work on”. Working on being ourselves, who we naturally and innately are, seems kind of silly when you really think about it. Yet this is where we are at in our development.
So why are we fake? From where did all of our inauthenticity and pretending arise? At some point on this human journey we learned that simply being who we are was either not enough, too much, or it wasn’t safe to be ourselves. Through this learning we developed patterns of inauthenticity in order to feel safe, accepted and loved. It’s basically that simple in a nutshell.
What is it to feel safe, accepted and loved, and be yourself? To say the things that are in your heart to say. To act from and trust your intuitive knowing without having to rationally and logically justify yourself, and without doubting yourself. To know that you are kind, good and loving and that your intention is not to do harm, but to be of benefit and simply share and express yourself naturally without effort or fear of rejection or hurting others. Being authentically you isn’t a permission slip to be a douche bag and act in unkind and unloving ways, but that isn’t who you actually are anyways, now is it?
To be authentic it is a requirement that we love and value ourselves. Without this, valuing authenticity is an impossibility. We have to know that our heart is pure and clean. We must remove the doubt in our mind as to what our essential nature is. This creates the solid ground from which we can feel safe and trust that it’s ok to relax, be present and naturally express as we feel so moved to do so.
From fake to real
Dismantling your masks
Dismantling our masks ultimately brings rest and freedom, however it can be quite uncomfortable at first. At times it may even be hard to distinguish between what is a mask and what is you. When you’ve worn some of these masks for such a long time you may actually think that the mask is who you are. You may even be attached to or like some of your masks even though they are not really true to your most essential nature.
How do you know a mask from you? Masks always come with the a few key qualities. One is that you have to maintain them, meaning you always have to show up in a particular way or you fear you might lose something. That something is related to a sense of external security and/or approval of yourself by others. This constant maintaining is often exhausting and overtime people begin to feel stressed or burnt out. The stress and burnout is from maintaining something that you actually are not. When you are yourself you are not stressed, you are simply in your natural expressive rhythm and flow.
Another quality of a mask is that they create an underlying feeling of separation. When you are wearing a mask or you are not being you, you feel separate from other people. There is a you and them. This can show up as feeling isolated from others or like you don’t belong. Or there can be the need to prove yourself through rationalization, speaking “logically”, or competing subtlety or overtly with others. It can feel like if someone else wins then you lose or vis versa and with this it can feel hard to be happy for others successes, or sometimes your own.
With masks there is often a mismatch with what you are really feeling and what you tell the world that you are feeling. Many people put on the “I am fine” mask everyday and they may even believe it themselves, but you can palpably feel when someone is wearing this mask and they are not congruent in what they feel like and what they say they feel like.
The crucial point in moving from fake to real is in identifying your masks and slowly laying them to rest. It takes courage and the willingness to feel vulnerable and uncomfortable at first. With time your comfortable level with relaxing and being yourself will increase and before you know it you will be ok with just being you. That is the ultimate embrace of self-love.