This is part of a series of short posts on what we, at Alethya, believe are the four key values of conscious relationships: honesty, authenticity, respect and kindness. See our TEDx talk too for a short insight and a happy ever after story.
What is authenticity? To put it simply, humans are programmed to prefer simplicity. The brain is an energy hungry part of the body and so, to minimise the resources it uses, it’s always looking for the shortest route to understanding. This is why stereotypes and shortcuts exist. This is why it’s important to be aware of the concept of unconscious bias. (Read Thinking, Fast and Slow for more on this)
We’re also programmed to be social. We need the herd to survive. And yet, the herd can be ruthless in its casting out of people who don’t fit into its idea of what is “right”. Did I mention that binary thinking is part of the simplicity craving? And that it’s an inherently unhelpful way of thinking about literally anything? (Read Life Isn’t Binary for more on this) Well, it is. Also: the way our society is currently structured any difference that does not serve the patriarchy and capitalism is made into an issue and relentlessly pursued and mauled.
I think that authenticity is both a simple yet complex concept and so I’ve explained how I see it in a few simple paragraphs.
Authenticity is about being fully ourselves. It is about being complex and allowing others to be complex too. It is about being able to see that a person can be kind as well as violent. It is about being able to see that a person can be into fetish/BDSM and also baking and kittens. It is about being able to see the complex whole and not to cut and trim to fit it into an easy to understand space. That also means it’s working against the habitual ways in which the brain and the social herd behave and this is why it can be challenging to be.
Authenticity is about being able to let go of the things that no longer serve you, that are no longer part of you. As well as accepting that others will change too. You can, and must, grieve for these losses if the loss makes you feel sad but you must also learn to accept that loss.
Authenticity is an absence of posturing, an absence of fake and pretence. It takes courage, because it takes the ability to be and act with vulnerability, to lift your face up and say here is all of me. To be able to risk the loss of those around you who might not be able to be with you as you fully are. It’s okay if you lose people. Life is about loss and learning to see that loss is part of loving. I have lost many, many friends as I’ve changed and become more fully authentically ME in the now. Please trust me when I say that you will find new friends and create new, totally accepting, connections.
Authenticity is about realising that any label can be useful as well as limiting. That we need to interrogate what words and ideas mean to us right now, to those around us and we need to be able to listen to, as well as challenge, these meanings without defensiveness or judgement.
Authenticity is about trusting yourself and accepting and embracing the messy, complex and contradictory parts of your self, your interests, your life. Authenticity is a key part of what helps us to feel joy because it’s about being in touch with the full truth of ourselves. And once we are in touch with that we are in touch with life itself.