You discover who you really are when you are authentic. You say and do what you really think and feel. You don’t filter it, hide it, or otherwise disguise it. In these moments, everything about you is genuine. Your words line up with your actions. Your body language lines up with your feelings. You dare to say and do things that you always wanted to, but were too afraid to risk. You speak up when you used to shut up. You stand tall when you used to walk out small. You laugh and cry when you used to withdraw and stifle. You expose your deepest feelings, your darkest secrets, and your most blissful whimsies without fear, if it is useful to do so. When you are this way, you are truly living in the present. Will this be your year to be more authentic?
When you are authentic without an intent to harm others, you give yourself an awesome feeling, which is the feeling of self-love. You are choosing to be who you really are, rather than a version of you who is more perfect and more acceptable to those around you. You have no need to be better than the real you anymore. In these moments, you are accepting that you are good enough as you are, paradoxically allowing yourself to do what’s important for you in that moment, even if that isn’t as good as you or someone else would have liked in retrospect.
Most of us fall short of this ideal state. I certainly did, and I still do. But I remain committed to being as authentic as I can be anyway. Being authentic is the only way in which you can discover what’s right for the person you really are, hidden behind your protective walls. When you speak and act based on what you really think and feel, you can no longer hide. You can no longer deny the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of who you are. Then you become capable of knowing yourself well enough to truly know what’s important for you.
Being authentic can be dangerous. You risk offending people who matter to you when you tell them what you really think and how you really feel. The 1997 Jim Carey movie, Liar Liar, parodies this danger to great comedic effect. By the power of a spell cast upon him by his five-year-old son’s birthday wish, Jim Carey’s character becomes incapable of telling a lie. He sees a woman with large breasts in the elevator, and tells her exactly what he is lustfully thinking. As a lawyer, he tells the judge precisely what lies he is telling in order to get his guilty client off the hook. Everyone around him starts to become very angry with him. He is being authentic, and he is paying a price for it.
Yet, there is a price to be paid for not being authentic. We pay a price every time we bend the truth, hold back how we feel, and conform to what others want from us. We build up a storehouse of wounds and resentments linked to the people from whom we have held back our truth. This storehouse of wounds is our past. When a new wound comes along, we remember our storehouse. These memories fuel our anger and fear in this present moment. We must purge ourselves of this storehouse of resentments if we want to be centered and present in each new moment.
Revealing your authentic self without having an intent to harm those around you is a foundation for experiencing serenity every day – constant inner peace that is life’s greatest reward.