Teacher: “Okay class, put down your pens. We're going to have an oral pop quiz! Who can define the meaning of living an authentic life?”
Oooo! Oooo! Oooo! I feel like a kid raising my hand with the right answer. When I get full of something you know it’s going to overflow into my writing. So, here goes….
I am my authentic self and I am living an authentic life. It’s a funny term when you think of it…authentic self, authentic life. Like we’ve been offering our bodies as hosts to alien spirits. But in a way it’s true. Emotional pain can cause us to morph into damaged versions of ourselves. It can begin at a young age, and without even realizing it we can live in this state for most of our lives, often wearing a mask to hide our pain.
Or maybe we do realize that we’re feeling “off” and we commit to working on ourselves, making good progress, but then a strategic situation is placed before us to test our growth, the stakes seem higher than ever before, and we do alright for a season, but when the situation moves outside of our control, we freak out, reverting back to our unhealthy thought tracts—responding from a place of panic and desperation, until we no longer recognize ourselves. Where the hell did the real me go?
I can see myself walking into a busy pawnshop and telling the clerk that I want to pawn myself. Would he pull out a loop and look for a signature? Do a scratch test for carats? I can hear him saying, “Sorry lady, but you’re not authentic. You’re a rather sloppy copy of the rare and beautiful Leah Griffith.”
Huh? When did this happen? How could this happen? Was I the victim of a highly sophisticated heist?
If only it were that easy to detect when we’ve lost ourselves. The term authentic self may be a bit overused but the message remains mighty: You are rare and valuable. There is only one of you, and once you allow life’s circumstances to distract and overpower you, you are no longer free to be yourself. You’re living in, and acting from, a state of fear and bondage.
We mostly tie ourselves up in knots and then blame it on other people, emotionally framing them so as to shine the spotlight of suspicion elsewhere. Of course we don’t do this consciously; it’s the ego at work behind the scenes, protecting its fragile empire of half-truths, fears, and delusions in order to get its way and remain blameless and in charge. You may say, “But they wronged me! How is that tying myself up in knots?” Well, believe it or not, you gave them the rope (the power) when you placed too much importance on their roll in your life. By doing so you placed them on the throne and relinquished your power. They may not even be aware that you’ve given them your power. Or perhaps you gave your power away to drugs or alcohol. And why did you do this? Because deep down you held the erroneous belief that something outside of yourself was capable of making you happier than you ever could.
Oh Dorothy, when will you learn that you have always held the power for a happy life?
Here’s a good question: How does one go about taking back their power?
We lose our power one compromise at a time. Gaining back our power is pretty straightforward—but also a lifelong exercise. You must believe that you are a complete person possessing everything you need, both spiritually and emotionally, to live the amazing life placed before you. You must remind yourself of this every day, and when trials come you must remind yourself even more often. Of course you should welcome, love, and appreciate, the people in your life, but you mustn’t ever override your own instincts or convictions out of fear of rousing their anger or being rejected. Be brave enough to love and support yourself and quit comparing yourself to others.
Here’s the really good part about being authentic. Once you take your power back you can then use it to forgive yourself—for abandonment. Yup. You abandoned yourself. Not on purpose of course. But lets say as a child (before you had the emotional maturity to protect yourself) a parent did desert you, and then you carried that rejection into your adult life. You danced to the old tapes for years; never moving beyond the belief that you were not quite enough…something vital was missing. But now as an adult you are able to see that it is impossible to truly be abandoned by another person because only the inhabitant of a dwelling has the power of abandonment. The Free Dictionary’s
definition of abandoned is: unoccupied, empty, deserted, vacant, derelict and uninhabited. So you see, you would have to vacate (abandon) yourself in order for another person to move in. Only you can abandon yourself and give your power away to someone or something else.
Another way to use your reclaimed power is to forgive those people who have hurt you. Now that you have your power back you can see clearly that the other person was simply acting from his or her own limited view of self and life. You can stop measuring and judging them and freely offer them unconditional love. This is a divine love. Not one based on ego, (as long as they make me feel good, or agree with me, I’ll love them) but based on self-love and self-respect, both of which are divine qualities.
Being our authentic selves means fully inhabiting our lives—living from the inside out rather than the outside in, responding to life from a place of love instead of fear, and then offering the world our authenticity instead of our egos. It’s a nail-biting endeavor guaranteed to humble and test, but for those who want to live a powerful life, saturated with creativity and love, there is no substitute.
Have I told you lately how glad I am that you’re here with me?