Blog Archives

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

Advertisements

Your Authentic Self

 

“To thine own self be true…”

 

Most of us associate this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78-82:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

“To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes; Polonius has in mind something much more Elizabethan than the New Age self-knowledge that the phrase now suggests. To me, what I get from this quote is that unless we can be true to ourselves first, we cannot be true to others.

My path of personal growth has led me recently to wonder, what exactly is one’s “authentic self”? How do we get there? From this exploration, I have summarized what I have learned and am eager to share it with you.

Definitions:

Authentic: Genuine; literally self-authored or endorsed.

Self: Your physical and mental being with all its human and unique characteristics.

Authentic Self: The true you; aligned and congruent self-image, stature, values, beliefs, goals, behavior, word, and public image.

Your Authentic Self and Truth

How many of us have a hard time being true to ourselves?  Those of us that gave up so much of our Self just so that we could be in the life of another did so at the cost of losing who we are in the process. By allowing someone else to define who we are caused us to lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly.  We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie.  For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is truth takes time.

Truth is a word that brings out negative reactions to many of us. Accepting truth about ourselves is difficult, especially to those of us who have been abused.  But truth does set one free if we will allow it to; it is a crucial part of healing.  It gives us the freedom to be who we are.  We are able to come to terms with our weakness (without judgment or condemnation) and appreciate our strength.  Truth gives strength; it naturally builds healthy boundaries.

Truth is open; it is honest even at the risk of being vulnerable again.  Truth fears no reaction. Truth is light and brings forth life.  When we walk in truth, we walk in light and when we walk in light we live a healthy life.

Truth is also love.  The greatest act of love towards another is living a life that is truthful.  For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, we will find it will come more easily when we are truthful about who we are.  If we walk in truth, we walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear.  Because we have been honest with ourselves, we are able to love ourselves with all of our imperfections, knowing that we are a work in “progress” and therefore need not have others approval.

“And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

The second part of this verse is a natural occurrence if we hold true to the first part of the verse.  So, when in doubt about our motives of not being truthful with someone….look inside, are we being less than truthful to ourselves?

Just what makes up an “authentic person”?  It is someone who:

Has great listening skills: everyone, regardless of who they are, wants to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, are you truly focusing 100% of your attention on what that person is saying? Or is your brain formulating something to say at the next available opportunity?  Are your eyes constantly roaming the room, wondering who else just walked in? An authentic person’s attention is razor-sharp, making the other person feel like the most important person in the world.

Treats others fairly: When carrying out your role, whether it be a mother, business executive, pilot, waitress, teacher or coach, to name a few, you are always dealing with other people. The biggest secret is how you treat them. Do you treat others with respect or are you condescending, especially if they screwed up?

Has integrity: Everyone wants something. But authentic people are conscious of the operative watchword: integrity. They will do the ethical thing even if it means a loss of personal benefits for themselves.

Has the ability to communicate: Business leaders who conscientiously communicate in the open, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over the future of their employees, end up earning tremendous amount of trust. Rather than hiding behind the cloak of their boardrooms, they step up to the plate and keep people informed as much as possible. Authentic people make themselves valuable because they care enough to keep others in the loop by communicating.

Has the willingness to show transparency: I’ve done a lot of public speaking in my life. Public speakers who aren’t afraid to stand up on stage and speak from the heart, showing their childlike enthusiasm and not presenting themselves as flawless packages, often win the hearts of their audiences.

Why? Because it makes them real. Authentic speakers go into a speaking engagement with the attitude of “I am grateful all these people are spending time with me and I will give them a reason to laugh, cry and otherwise enjoy themselves without worrying how I look.”

Inauthentic speakers will say, “Well, there’s a bunch of jerks out there, I’ll just get in there, get it over and fool them senselessly with my appearance of great success.” People who are willing to be transparent win the love and respect of others.

Food for thought: Authentic people make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in other people than in 2 months by trying to get other people interested in them!

Some experts on authenticity assert that if an individual is not living authentically in their lives, then they lose meaning and can fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. People might pursue “quick fixes” to avoid the responsibility of living authentically with quick fixes such as anesthetizing themselves with alcohol or drugs or living in fantasies.

Becoming your Authentic Self

To become your authentic self, begin by knowing yourself. Understand human nature, what you can change and what you cannot, your own personality traits, learned behaviors, your values, beliefs, needs, goals, and motives. Consider the choices, events and people who may have “molded” you. Begin to know what guides you throughout life. Know your true strengths. Apply your true strengths to authentic goals. Gain the confidence to be humble. Begin to integrate and align your values, beliefs and actions.

We must face the fears that block our inner truths from coming out, especially the fear of rejection. Even when we feel strong enough to communicate the truth, we don’t always have clarity about what is true for us.  But being authentic doesn’t mean being perfect.  It just means doing our best to be real.  Sometimes that means exposing our warts and imperfections, but there lays the beauty of authenticity.

Coming into your Authentic Self

Don Miguel Ruiz shares centuries of Toltec wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. To apply this wisdom, choose to create these profound agreements with yourself:

Be impeccable with your word. Carefully look at what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. Use your word consistently to express and strengthen your values. Don’t use or overlook factual errors, fallacies or distortions during communications. Express yourself authentically. Earn trust.

Do what you say.

Don’t take anything personally. It’s not all about you. Reject the fallacy of personalization.

Rely confidently on your own well-founded self-concept; it is the only evaluation of your worth that matters.

Challenge and balance your first-person point-of-view.

Don’t make assumptions. Suspend judgment. Readily acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to ask questions. Carefully look at the evidence. Don’t attribute intent to others. Retain a healthy skepticism as you avoid cynicism. Develop, refine, and constantly apply your own well-founded theory of knowledge.

Always do your best. Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all. All you can do is all you can do. You are good enough. Apply your time and effort toward your well-chosen and enduring goals.

These agreements are essential elements of authentic expression and earning trust.

References

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, by Martin Seligman

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation, by Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter

Authentic Happiness Website, by Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx

Self Matters, by Phillip C. McGraw

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Peaceful Warrior — Dan Millman learns to enjoy the journey in this docudrama.

Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall

Knowing Yourself, an Amazon.com Listmania List

Related Articles

The Man in the Glass

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for Self, and the world makes you King for the day… Just go to the mirror and look at yourself and see what that man has to say. For it isn’t your father or mother or partner upon whose judgment must pass, the fellow whose verdict counts most in your life is the one staring back in the glass…

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum and think you’re a wonderful guy – But the man in the glass, he weighs you in as a bum if you can’t look him straight in the eye. He’s the fellow you please, never mind all the rest, for he’s with you clear to the end. And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult task if the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the world on the pathway of years and get pats on the back as you pass, but the last reward will be heartache and tears if you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

— Author Unknown

 


Regaining Lost Pride and Lost Hope

“And nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope.” — Robert Frost

I am growing from, and getting over my sense of lost pride and lost hope. Often, my life seemed poisoned at the very source. I can’t remember a time of innocence, joy, or confidence in myself or in my relationships with others. I was sexually abused when I was a young child. I know the pain from that abuse and the stress associated with “keeping the secret” made me feel unsure of my boundaries and re framed my view of the future to one of anxiety and dread. But things are in fact beginning to change, as I change.

To go forward, I have had to admit to powerlessness. That has been hard for me to do. I must admit that I am powerless to undo the hurt and abuse in my past. And I have learned that I can’t “go it alone”. I have been alone way too long! I have my “new and improved” Self, the Universe, and my close friends to trust and confer with.

I am overcoming my past and turning toward the future with growing hope and trust. And then the present, like the New Year, becomes filled with promise. For those that know me well, also know that this “re framing” was difficult and can share with me the joy in my ability to change my way of thinking.


Be Happy!

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  – Prov. 17:22

When I am gloomy and melancholy I seem to walk around in a black cloud.  I find that I attract other disheartened people to me and soon it’s as if we are marching along in a funeral procession.

To be permanently gloomy seems an insult to life.  After all, there are many people who are worse off than I am, and yet they manage to find the energy and love to reach out and express joy.  Why then, should I coexist in the gloomy minority?

Often, I find that my thoughts dictate my mood.  Most vividly, I recall the gloom that appeared when I used to do a great deal of acting out, leading a double life with half of it rooted in fear and shame.  It’s no wonder that I was “down”, and that I sometimes still carry this habit and attitude with me now, along my path of personal and spiritual growth.

Part of my growth is in the regaining of a sense of happiness that reaches into the deepest part of me.  I can hear myself laugh and learn to play.  What a tonic it is, to be happy!  Joy is a vital part of life and I want to feel it deep inside me and bring to my face a smile!

 

Wisdom of the Seasons

 

“If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  – Percy Bysshe Shelley

I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.  For those not familiar with our desert climate, we do in fact experience a period of winter weather.  We can experience some very cold temperatures during the month of January; lows can dip to below freezing at night and only reach the low to mid 50’s during the day and a relative humidity in the negative.  There remains however plenty of green and flowering plants to trick the mind when the eye shoots a quick look out the window and sees the majestic palms and the deep blue sky with seemingly unending sunshine.  Occasionally those of us who grew up in the winter grasp of the Midwest begin to long for that time of hibernation.  I know I do.  I miss snow, bundling up with hats, coats, mittens, boots, scarves and more.  I miss warming up the car and days when no one goes anywhere because the snow has us shut in for a day or two.

I have learned that we do not need to be afraid of winter.   In winter nature lies fallow in preparation for the New Year.  All life needs rest in order to grow with greater strength and winter is the time of withdrawal that precedes renewal.

Sometimes, it may seem that our lives have become dark and hopeless and we can’t see a way forward.  I felt exactly as I’ve just described, many times over.  Perhaps, it came when a relationship failed and I thought, “This really has to be the end”, or my business was going badly; money became a problem, or the loss of family ties or connections.  I became lost in my melancholy and felt that things would never get better.

I knew that I could draw some strength from the wisdom of the seasons.  Bare trees will become clothed in green and the hard earth will again yield harvests of plenty.  I learned to appreciate this transformation as it happens every year and I take hope from it.  I can see my life also as bound to change!  From this wisdom of the seasons I grew this affirmation which is ready to be plucked from my jar of affirmations when the time is right: “Nothing in my life need defeat me, since I know that spring and summer will always come again”.


Solitude

 

“Lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God” – Book of Common Prayer

Sometimes, it’s as though I’m in the center of a bustling city, and then decide to leave. As I travel toward the more peaceful suburbs, there are fewer and fewer people. Finally, the city is behind me, and I’m alone. And since I can’t live in two places at once, I enjoy the pleasure of solitude by visiting the suburbs and pay the price of loneliness.

It’s the same when I leave behind the noise of my own thoughts and travel inward. By traveling inward, I’m referring to meditation and times when I just listen to myself; to listen to what my inner voice may be telling me. It takes courage to face solitude, a courage which the Universe gives to me only when I want to find what I can’t find when I’m surrounded by people or even just with my partner. Peace, inspiration, rejuvenation, nurturing, enlightenment, and strength – these are just a few of the gifts of solitude.

Beyond the loneliness, and the longing for others, I find the satisfaction of my company and the company of the Universe. I need these as much as I need the company of other people, and so I always seem to receive what I need to take the risks of solitude. You will too. There is nothing to fear in solitude. We may feel alone, but we never are.

Related Articles

Positive Thinking in 2011

 

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul” .”     — G. K. Chesterton

I usually don’t do well with the “New Year’s Resolution” thing. It lasts for maybe a week or two, and then I seem to forget about the big promises made for the upcoming year; to make it different. Well this year, my emphasis, and yes, even my resolution is, to have more positive thoughts, and to “hang in there”. I will write about my quest toward more positive thinking and share with all of you my successes and failures. My sadness and joy. But at least once per week I will devote one blog to the discussion of positive thinking.

Difficulties arise in the lives of us all. What is most important is dealing with hard times, coping with the changes, and getting through to the other side where the sun is shining just for us! It takes a strong person to deal with tough times and difficult choices. But I am a strong person. It takes courage. But I believe I have the inner courage to see challenge through. It takes being an active participant in life. But I am in the driver’s seat, and I can decide the direction I want tomorrow to go in.

I will hang in there… and take care to see that I don’t lose sight of the one thing that is constant, beautiful, and true: Everything will be fine – and it will turn out that way because of the special kind of person the Universe has created in me. So… beginning today as my New Year’s Resolution and lasting a lifetime through – I will hang in there, and not be afraid to feel the morning sun is shining, just for me.

 


Feeling is the Inner Life

Expression is the Outer Life

I’ve realized that there’s a difference between my ability to feel, my ability to express my feelings, and my ability to let go.  I know there are many painful emotions I learned to suppress when I was young, particularly anger or sadness.  Other emotions might be difficult to feel because they are connected to past pain.

Yet there’s no letting go, no moving on, until I stop trying to avoid feelings such as sorrow, anger, rage or despair.  I have found the way to begin working through difficult feelings is to reach out to people with a phone call, email, or blog comment.  Other ways I have found to help are writing (blogging or journaling); having a good cry, or plan a healing ritual which can be as simple as taking a couple of days alone, just to think.  For some of us, turning to our Higher Power, as we know it provides the spiritual help and nourishment we need.

The release that will come as a result of expressing our feelings will help to ease the pain.  It’s not realistic to release all the pain from our past all at once, but we can begin by letting go of a little piece today.

Ten Thoughts to Avoid Negativity

Ten Thoughts to Help Avoid Disappointment and Negativity

  • 1. Look at life as a journey and enjoy the ride. Get the most out of the detours and realize they are sometimes necessary.
  • 2. Do your best, but if what you have done has caused you discouragement, try a different approach. Be passionate about the process, but do not be so attached to the outcome.
  • 3. Wish the very best for everyone, with no personal strings attached. Applaud someone else’s win as much as you would your own.
  • 4. Trust that there is a divine plan, written by us, and for us, with the oversight of the Divine Universe. However through purposeful blindness, we no longer know what is best for us. A disappointment now, could well mean a victory later, so do not be disappointed. There is usually a reason.
  • 5. Ask no more of yourself than the best that you can do, and be satisfied with that. Be compassionate toward yourself as well as others. Know your calling, your gifts, and do them well.
  • 6. Do not worry about something when over; it is out of your hands at that point, too late, and over! Learn the lesson. That is what we are here on this earth to do. Move on.
  • 7. Have the attitude that no one, except you, owes you anything. Give without expecting a thank-you or anything in return. But when someone does something for you, be appreciative of even the smallest gesture.
  • 8. Choose your thoughts, or your thoughts will choose you; they will free you or keep you bound. Educate your Spirit and give it authority over your feelings.
  • 9. Judge no one, and disappointment and forgiveness will not be an issue. No one can let you down, if you are not leaning on them. People cannot hurt you unless you allow them to.
  • 10. Love anyway, for no reason. Give, just because.

(As adapted from the works contained within “The Language of Positive Thinking”)