Letting Go For The Authentic Self
Did you know that authenticity is inextricably linked to happiness? To be authentic is to feel at home in your body, accepted into a particular group, and to feel true to our sense of values. It is a kind of confidence that doesn’t come from attaining something outside of ourselves, but knowing deeply we are enough whatever our particular feelings, needs, or skills are and that we add to the greater whole of life and matter. We can be true to our own personality, spirit, or character despite external pressures.
Authenticity is one of the most important ingredients in creating a healthy and sustainable relationship. Yet it can also be one of the most challenging to practice on a day-to-day basis. Why? the answer is simple: fear. We fear that if we showed up as we truly are—saying, doing, and feeling the real things that are going on within us without augmenting or censoring ourselves in any way—that others might disconnect from us, feel upset with us, or even leave us.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we actually are.”
Authenticity: The Ultimate Practice of Letting Go
Brené Brown, who has spent the past ten years studying authenticity, writes in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we actually are.” Choosing authenticity means:
- cultivating the ability to be imperfect
- allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and
- setting boundaries.
If we aren’t being authentic with our deeper feelings and needs, then we can’t establish healthy boundaries.
One of the things I personally practice and share with my students that enhances authenticity is to choose “discomfort over discontentment.” For example, when fear arises, it can feel uncomfortable and to avoid discomfort we can distract or push away how we really feel and what we really need—but this is ultimately never satisfying.
There is a risk involved when we put ourselves out there personally and professionally. However, if we don’t honor our true feelings and needs, they will eventually leak out when we sometimes least expect it and cause harm to oneself and others. The more we practice authenticity, the easier it becomes to live and lead from this place.