Living Authentically

authenticity in NewsletterIn the field of motivational speaking and inspirational literature, it’s common to come across phrases and recycled quotes that encourage us to be true to ourselves, to live our dreams or to bask in the uniqueness that is us. Such words, read at the right time and in the right situation, have the power to infuse whatever we’re doing with extra vigor and certainty. Sometimes, they even do well to extricate us from slumps we don’t know we’re in. Words, sourced from great men and women, make us feel anything is possible and that within us lays dormant the capability do with life whatever we desire. And this is wonderful. Or is it?

At best, due to their sheer frequency and volume, inspirational words that free-flow on social media and advertising serve as temporary jump-starts to lives that are repeatedly stalling. Lives that volley between limiting self-beliefs, fear, doubt and which fundamentally need a full and thorough service to really get to the root issues. Band-Aid quotes and clever t-shirts are telling displays of a hunger for change or a more defined connection with our inner resources, but what happens to the person who understands the concept of living their best life, without knowing how it applies to them, specifically? What happens to the man or woman who is so caught up in daily, yearly distractions, that they no longer remember what their truest dreams look like, sound like, feel like? Too often the uncensored and exceptional version of ourselves become so mired in the residue of the daily grind that we end up living in our own shadow. A shadow which, paradoxically can be filled with frequent bursts of colour, but ultimately gives way to the knowledge that somewhere, someplace, our authentic self is desperate to get loose. Very rarely does ‘quote of the day’ penetrate deeply enough to set it free.

The use of the word ‘remember’ in the former paragraph is an important one. Living authentically is not a feat of escapism, neither is it about acquiring new, externally sourced knowledge. More accurately, it’s about foraging beneath everything you have made the decision to elevate and hold onto and choosing to remember what came before it. There is always a before, it follows our shadows like loyal pets waiting for permission to play, to have fun. Shadow-living thrives on the artificial borders we place around it, an existence not dissimilar to Artificial Intelligence (AI). We’ve all seen the films – or if we’re lucky, just the trailers – the aim of AI being to engineer machines able to use perception in order to adapt and respond to their environment. Shadow-living can be seen as the use of our human mind to also adapt and respond to environments, irrespective of a deep-seated and personal sense that in fact we should be doing something else entirely. Look closely enough and half of us aren’t that different from the machines, living lives defined by a mental programme we don’t even know is running. Unconscious, we’re hooked on motion, rarely stopping to check whether destination aligns with where we actually want to go.

As the world and technology expand, human beings are exposed to and encouraged evermore to fill their lives full to distraction. From the incessant need to switch on the television or radio the moment we return home, to gaming on the way to work, inviting our camera phones to dinner and our iPads into bed. Somehow deep and meaningful words have become part of this, showing up where you least expect to find them, an over-exposed and tired commodity. We leave no real room for ourselves anymore and continually avert our gaze outward, until something goes wrong enough to force it inward.

The key to knowing your true self and authentic living is to find your programme, the one that keeps you unique, powerful and resourceful. Some people intrinsically know it, it burns so brightly that there’s no foraging needed. They are the lucky ones. Others find that throughout their life they need repeatedly begin the journey over and over, before getting close to what resembles truth or purpose for them. Authentic living is about awareness, identification and then either acceptance or change. It’s about noticing and knowing the cogs that move the wheels, spotting the ones that rotate smoothly, the ones that try to but are blocked and the ones that aren’t even yours and don’t need to be there. In doing this, we’re able to acclimatise to our own inherent requirements for living wholly, and we can access the power brought with that knowledge. When we forget the things that move us, but become moved anyway by whatever forces show up, the art of being ourselves means a tugging from our energy supplies, rather than enjoying a free-flow from the energy source.

Quotes alone are not enough to let loose the life we truly want to live, they are helpful, but they are not enough. Self awareness, conscious decision-making and action, these are the things that foster fulfilment and move us through the shadows into the colour. I urge people to go deeper.

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