Do you “know who you really are”? Do you know what “being who you really are” is? Unless you are an enlightened guru, deep spiritual teacher, leading psychotherapist, or major philosopher, for example, you might, if you were honest, struggle with the answer. And honesty is partly what it’s about.
To use the now well-known words “Being who you really are” is to open up a multi-layered question around what we mean by the phrase and, when it is contemplated, we may not get any clear, definitive answer. It serves us better to simply ask it as a question as a process of enquiry, to help us know and understand ourselves better.
Honesty, openness and authenticity
When we talk about honesty and consistency, we also get into transparency; “who you say you are” is who you really are. They should in theory all go together. But that might be assuming people know who they really are, which very many people probably don’t – if they were honest, that is. This raises the question of authenticity.
I think some can “do” the open bit really well, some find it really hard and others think they are doing it when they aren’t. Now they might be doing a good job at disguise. And then they might honestly think they are being real, when they aren’t. They just don’t know it.
This is where self awareness work is so incredibly useful, especially when you also get feedback from others. I used to do a really good job at disguise, thinking I had to “be” a certain person that worked in the world. After a while I wasn’t aware I was being like that. Until someone on a seminar told me that she knew me but actually she didn’t really know me. That was a shock, but it set me off on a journey to find the real me. And learn to be transparent in communicating that “me”.
One of the major developmental shifts people can make is into the authentic zone. You might have to shift some baggage out of the way in the process, but when people really hear what’s really there for you, they really “get” you. It can be a process of peeling away layers of the onion skin. This will vary from person to person, but you’d need to know more about what goes on inside, how your body feels in different situations, how you are feeling in those situations, and what thoughts come to mind.
This is self-awareness training, learning to monitor your on-going process, and catch those patterns that don’t serve you. The point of authenticity is to learn to be able to resonate with your own internal process. And be willing to be with others from that space. So that you are truly being real. It sounds scary and people think it will get them into all sorts of messes. And this is the point. We so often do this stuff because our ego, which is there to look after us and ensure we survive, is probably busy saying, “Hey, watch out! Don’t go there. It’s scary. It’s dangerous. You’ll get trouble. People will laugh at you, ridicule you, get angry with you, not like you.”
Often it’s the last one that really hurts, the fear of not being liked. So we cover up and behave differently.
Narcissism is inauthentic
An extreme form of inauthenticity masquerading as authenticity is narcissism, the false self. Donald Trump is probably the best-known example of a narcissist. Essentially, a narcissist has created a false identity and seeks to get positive endorsement of that false self from others. It is a construct to avoid a gaping hole inside that they are terrified of encountering, because that would threaten their whole identity.
We are living in the age of narcissism. People are very self-absorbed, “me first”, and seek positive reinforcement from others, such as admiration, to bolster their self-image. They may act as if they are being authentic, but they don’t really, truly, know what that is.
To truly know who you are requires a profound shift. Honesty can be the way but it requires self awarenes, including knowledge of the different parts of ourself.
Once you learn to shift your ego out of the way and be authentic, you can take it to another level still, and this is where it gets really interesting – that is, if you are interested!
This is where you can then learn to connect with your candle flame within, who you really are at a fundamental level of your Being, where truth really resides, where pure joy lives and where there is lasting peace and contentment. Then you are being authentic with your Beingness.