Great Morning Beloved!
Taking sides—-Being Authentic
Do you sit on the fence when in discussion with others about an important topic or do you choose for or against?
Sometimes, fence-sitting is acceptable. When, for instance, your children come to you in the midst of a heated disagreement between the two and ask for you to determine who is right.
Proverbs 18:17 states: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him”.
You, as the parent, must be undecided until both sides are heard. Only then can a determination as to the right and proper course of action be taken.
If the topic of discussion is an important one regarding the next president or congress person, for example, then one cannot be a fence-sitter…they will have to choose before entering the voting booth.
There are many times when one must not sit undecided on the fence. If we look back in history, the Holocaust, is a perfect example. Many of the nations, it has been proven, turned a blind eye as thousands of innocent people, men, women and children, were killed by the German guards who were their task-makers.
That is fence-sitting.
A quote from Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and writer states: “We must take sides; neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”
Does that make sense to you? Think about it.
It’s the same as not voting. If one holds their vote, then they have no right to complain about the results of the casting.
Over the years, many of us have seen things and wondered why? How could that possibly happen? What is the purpose of war, starvation, destruction of the earth, and so many other things that have happened through my 70 years!
And this is where one of my favorite statements would be recited. “What is mine to do?”
My class has heard this many, many, times. Usually as a challenge to them while we are discussing some of the things that are happening in our world.
I believe all this leads us to question our authenticity. Who are we, as we travel through each day?
Every day we encounter ‘choice-points’. These choice-points come along and prompt us to ask which direction we are going to go.
Sometimes it’s a simple thing. But, as we are developing and fine tuning our integrity, many times it’s not so easy to make a choice.
Those people in Germany during World War II often had to choose between keeping their families safe, or fed or warm and turning their backs on neighbors and friends. Thankfully, there were many who took a chance and aided many Jews especially, and especially children.
People like Oskar Schindler, a businessman, Carl Lutz, a diplomat, and Johan van Hulst, a teacher. These three man alone saved hundreds, maybe thousands combined, of Jews from the Germans. They each had a choice-point and determined to do what was theirs to do.
Justin Tanis, from the Pacific School of Religion tells us, “God seeks our authenticity.”
Authenticity, or knowing one’s thoughts and feelings and acting in accordance with them, is virtually synonymous with “being yourself.”
Currently, in mainstream counseling psychology, authenticity is viewed as the most fundamental aspect of well-being in that it is not just a component or prerequisite to achieve well-being but that it is the very essence of well-being.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, is attributed with saying, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Consider that statement a moment….says something yet how many of us have strived through our years to be someone else than our true self?
Individuals considered authentic are those who generally strive to align their actions with their core values and beliefs with the hope of discovering, and then acting in sync with, their “true selves.”
There is debate over whether people actually possess an innate self and need to uncover it, or whether one’s true self is flexible and determined by the choices they make throughout their lives. Authenticity was long thought to be too difficult to define and measure.
Then in 2000, Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman developed their Authenticity Inventory, comprised of four key factors: awareness, unbiased processing, behavior, and relational orientation. Using this tool, they found that being authentic can provide a host of benefits, including a strong sense of self-worth and self-competence, a greater ability to follow through on goals, and more effective coping skills.
Being authentic involves the ability to be introspective and understand what motivates oneself. Such accurate self-knowledge can be a double-edged sword, though, if it reveals uncomfortable truths or weaknesses that one would rather not admit. However, advocates of authenticity argue that in the long run, it’s better to be accurate than biased in the long run.
Being authentic can also put a person at odds with their larger peer group if their emerging perspective is an unpopular one. However, authentic people wouldn’t look to others for approval or surrender to the social pressures of what they should or shouldn’t do. The validation they derive from within
Is authenticity a good value? Yes authenticity/honesty is good. It keeps you from misleading yourself into misbegotten ethics and allows you to answer to yourself at ease. It’s not easy to do but the hard work makes life easier
Do you know who you truly are? If someone were to ask you who is your authentic self, could you respond honestly?
I think most of us could touch the surface, at least, of who our authentic self was. But when we got past the first layers, what would we say?
Here is something I found while researching this topic, see if it helps:
Get comfortable. Take a few cleansing breaths.
Now; begin by reflecting upon your values. What is the most important to you in life? What do you value? Where does your sense of right and wrong come from? Spend the next few moments thinking about your values.
The values you have been thinking of make-up part of the core of who you are. If you are being true to your values, these core beliefs will drive your behavior.
It feels good to behave in ways that are consistent with your values. For example, if honesty is something you value, this could be reflected in your life by being truthful. If you value your family, perhaps your life reflects this in the time you spend with family members.
Think about how your values can be a part of your day-to-day life.
Now consider what else makes you who you are. Finding your authentic self involves learning who you truly are. Your authentic self is the real you, the person you are truly meant to be. Your authentic self is the person you are at the core, the person you can be if nothing holds you back.
Imagine the person you believe yourself to be right now. It’s okay if you aren’t quite sure who you are…just picture yourself going about the things you usually do in a typical day. Imagine that you are watching yourself…observing yourself going about your usual activities.
See yourself getting up in the morning…going about your day…imagine the things that you do in a typical day. See yourself doing these activities.
Picture this person…you…standing in an empty room. Imagine watching this person…observe…now imagine you could strip away all the things that hold you back from your full potential. Imagine self-doubt dissolving…being replaced with confidence and self-assurance. Picture this person before you, and imagine all the things that get in the way of success…such as circumstances, lack of resources, lack of forgiveness, illness, baggage from the past…anything that is holding this person back in any way at all…
See these problems dissolving…disappearing…going away…
Now imagine this person, standing in the empty room. What is left? Who is this person when all those barriers are stripped away?
This person is you. Imagine who you are at the core…the pure character that is left when there is nothing to get in the way of complete self-expression.
You may only have a vague picture in your mind right now…let’s allow that picture to come into focus…becoming more clear…
Think of your motivations…what motivates you? What drives your behavior? What catches your interest…or has caught your interest in the past? What propels you to action?
Think about your personality and character traits…the characteristics that are left when all barriers are removed, and all fears have gone away. At your fullest potential, your simplest form…with no fears…what traits do you have? Think about your energy…are you laid back and calm, or are you energetic? Think about your other characteristics…
Are you introverted or extroverted?
Quiet or talkative?
Are you creative?
Are you practical?
What sorts of things do you appreciate?
What do you admire?
What do you like?
Imagine something that makes you feel happy…what is it?
Think of some things you enjoy…things that you like to do…
Think about all the characteristics of the person who is left when all barriers and fears are removed.
Now let’s create a different picture. Imagine yourself as a young child, in a happy moment. See the potential in this child. Who is this young person? What makes this child who he or she is?
Think about the characteristics that you share with this child. In what ways are you similar? In what ways does the current you differ from this child? Think about how you have learned and grown since the time you were a small child.
Now picture yourself as the child…see the world through your younger self’s eyes.
What did you want to be when you grew up? What hopes did you have for your future self? What dreams did you have as a child?
The hopes and dreams you had as a child were probably related in some way to your authentic self. Something about your dreams was connected to a part of your true self. What do these aspirations say about who you are? What personal characteristics of yours are related to your childhood dreams?
For example, if as a child you dreamed about becoming an astronaut, you probably have some personality traits that relate to this dream…such as being adventurous, curious, analytical…
Think about your own childhood dreams and see what these dreams say about who you are.
Now create one final picture in your mind. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, the person you want to be. Imagine your ideal self…
How would this person behave? What does this person, your authentic self, value? What motivates this ideal self? What personal characteristics are present in this ideal version of you? Imagine all the details of the person you most want to be.
The image in your mind right now, of this ideal person, is you. This is your authentic self. This is who you are. At the core, beneath all of life’s getting in the way…this is you.
Spend a few moments with this image of your authentic self.
Now allow yourself to step inside this image, and fully become this person. Become who you are. For this moment, just be…simply be your authentic self.
Feel a sense of calm and serenity…secure in who you are…knowing who you are. This is you. Your authentic self.
You can take this authentic self with you…allowing this true essence of you to shine through in everyday life. Allow your values, personality, and motivations to shine though…to guide your behavior…to make up who you are.
You have always been this person…you always will be your authentic self…a positive, confident person. A person you like and appreciate. Underneath the challenges, the baggage, the demands of living life…this is the real you that will always be with you.
It’s time to reawaken now…to conclude this exercise…
Keep the image of your authentic self with you as you go about the rest of your day. Express this true self…and allow you to simply be you.
Wiggle your fingers, waking up your hands and arms…
Move your toes, allowing your feet and legs to wake up…
Feel your muscles reawakening…and your whole-body filling with energy.
Open your eyes and sit quietly for a moment while you reorient to your surroundings…
Welcome back….let that settle with you and share with someone if you wish to go deeper.