“Authenticity necessitates behaving autonomously, for it means being the author of one’s actions—acting in accord with one’s true inner self. The key to understanding autonomy, authenticity, and self is the psychological process called integration. Various aspects of a person’s psyche differ in the degree to which they have been integrated or brought into harmony with the person’s innate, core self. Only when the processes that initiate and regulate an action are integrated aspects of one’s self would the behavior be autonomous and the person, authentic. It is in this sense that to be authentic is to be true to one’s self.”
~ Edward L. Deci from Why We Do What We Do
Those of you who have read my previous pieces know how the theme of authenticity winds its way though many of my ponderings. This is because in my view, unless we can be ourselves, we exist in a state somewhere between catatonic and imitative. We blend with the masses, we mask our truth and the world becomes robbed of our gifts that could otherwise enrich it and us beyond our imaginings.
In today’s celebrity obsessed culture, this is especially prevalent. Young people struggling to find who they are, seek their identity amongst the fragments of what they observe. The western culture, in particular, is very outward driven. Deeper self-exploration is not encouraged in school or homes. And by the time we graduate and take our first breath of newfound freedom, another constraint settles in and the chase for the dollar begins. Out goes the inner search for truth.
One of the themes closest to my heart is the individual quest for truth. “Moonchild,” the first book I published deals with that quest, as will my upcoming titles, though the characters, eras and milieus will dramatically differ. But the story of finding oneself is not new – it is the human story that permeates our myths and even today’s pop culture. The place where we make the mistake, in my opinion (and I’ve been guilty of this myself) is in taking on other people’s journeys as our own, living vicariously rather than embarking on our own quests. This is why “Eat, Pray, Love” was such as success as were, and still are, the “Star Wars,” for example. In each of these stories, the main character sets off on a journey fraught with trails and tribulations to return “home” changed, more real, more authentic with his or her powers reclaimed.
The road of trials is not easy and it begins with a call to action. What are you called to do? You know, you do not need to quit your job or buy a one-way ticket to a remote island. Your journey might be lurking around the corner, or be a thought or decision away. All you need is to have the desire, feel the impulse and then take that first step. It is a blend of action and surrender. What may come next is still a mystery but it will sure add zing to a dulled by routine life. And it is thanks to those trials that we become more authentic. When we open up to it, life will strip us off layers of deception and polish us the way elements polish stone. The feeling can be abrasive intense and often unpleasant. But the excess needs to be chipped away in order for our true face to shine. It is an invitation for real joy to enter our lives.
Your experience on earth is your own and you are the author of your life story. You do not owe anything to anyone, only to be true to who you are. It is through becoming aware of those inner processes that move us to take action that we find that thread that will lead us to our truth. By standing for what we believe in, we direct our lives in a way that is in harmony with our core self and grow our integrity.
Hey, there is no one like you in this world and this world needs you. Like anything in life worth working towards, becoming true and authentic takes time and patience and a whole lot of looking within. Do not try to be like someone else. Follow your dreams, listen to that faint whisper within that coaxes you on and you will find your way. The reward is a palpable coherence between your inner and outer experience. I am here, cheering you on.