Watching a lady dress can help us understand authenticity. Consider that this task happens in front of a mirror, even if she doesn't actually look at her reflection most of the time. First, cream is smeared to cover her whole body. Then, meticulously she covers her silky skin in layers of clothes, each primed and inspected from multiple angles. She makes tiny adjustments to have the garment sit comfortably and look exquisite.
Most men's opinion is that all this primping and preening is unnecessary. What the observing (and drooling) man fails to understand is that she has a picture in her head. The reflection in the mirror must match that image - exactly! But that image is not just a visual one, it also has tactile information, backed with identity and seasoned with some feelings too. Dressing a woman is like staging a movie scene to mimic the writer's script in fine detail. It is as if she uses the mirror to measure the degree of accuracy between her physical image and the script in her mind's eye.
According to Wikipedia, Authenticity is defined as: concerns the truthfulness of origins, attributes, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. Wikipedia also has a philosophy definition of Authenticity, which reads: ...authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures, and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. A lack of authenticity is considered to be bad faith.
We are bombarded with info graphics of who we should be, adverts telling us how we should behave and what we should buy. Church, parents, law and school all put pressure on us to conform to a set standard imposed on us from the outside. Coping with this information overload is not easy in this modern media age, yet the mechanism for sifting and sorting what is right for us personally hasn't changed. Ever.
People have an image of who they are inside of their own mind's eye. It is not just a visual picture. It is a complete graphical representation of who we want to be. It includes details on values, information about what we want, who we like to relate to, what we believe and what we want to do. The trick for the modern man is to get his external behaviour to mirror this internal identity. The closer the external accurately represents the internal, the more authentic the individual.
Feedback plays an important role in fine tuning the authenticity of our external behaviour. "It looks fine" is an inadequate comment from the impatient husband waiting for the lady to get dressed. This will not reassure her that the external image accurately reflects the internal identity. In the same way it is hard for us to get reassurance that we are doing well from those that surround us. After all, they are measuring us against their own frame of reference, whether or not that matches our own.
Authenticity has a mirror to help us gauge our performance and relate back to how well it mimics the script. This mirror is called - emotions. It helps us primp and preen our external expressions until it comfortably represents our internal persona. Our internal system measures and weights every interaction, every word and considers every decision trying to determine how authentically we behave. This ever changing data is fed through to our conscious minds using emotions. Happiness tells us we are moving in the right direction. Anger says - Wait! Turn around. Depression says we are so off the path we may never find it again. Contentment says we are slap, bang where we are supposed to be.
So, the next time your emotions flare, stop and ask yourself: (If the emotions are negative) what am I doing that is drawing me away from my authentic self? Or alternatively, if you are experiencing positive emotions ask yourself: what am I doing that is drawing me closer to my authentic self.
One solitary action or one decision will not cement our authenticity. Our behaviour is constantly measured. Each action, every moment and every decision is weighed and calculated with the results passed onto the conscious mind through the emotional messenger. The external pressures and influences on us change and fluctuate with each passing moment, requiring us to act and react constantly, affecting the accuracy of our authenticity.
Living authentically in this ebb and flow of life requires each of us to be in touch with our identity, familiar with our values and aware of our beliefs. Having knowledge of these elements is like a lady knowing how to mix and match colours and fabrics, thus equipping her to skilfully manipulate the clothes to match her internal reference. Knowing who we are, knowing our values and beliefs is like having a map directing our behaviour to authenticity. Reflecting on the success or failure of past behaviours is like detailing the map with landmarks to help identify that we are moving in the right direction.
Here are some things that you can do to draw closer to your authentic self:
- Do self evaluation tests: The accuracy and relevance of self evaluation tests varies, but each of them will help you clarify the picture of who you are, and bring it into your conscious mind. Get to know the roles you play in your life as this will also help you in your self-discovery process. Start here.
- Discover your values: They are an essential tool in understanding who we are and why we do what we do. Of all the exercises I have ever done, Values has been the most influential in giving me self-understanding. Read on values here.
- Meet your Beliefs: These are not the religious type. These are the self worth, permission-giving type. Our beliefs either empower us to accomplish something, or will prevent us from accomplishing something. Read on beliefs here.
- Tame the Inner Voice: Mind Mutter is our top controller and curator or our personal authenticity. Change will not be possible until you master this identity protector. Read more on Mind Mutter here.
- Let your Living reflect your Being: Sometime you may have to let out your expression verbally. You may have to repeat it a few times, depending on how you have allowed people to treat you in the past. Sometimes you are just going have to do it. Yup! Make the decision and live it. Sometime it may be selfish, and sometimes it may be selfless.
- Reflection: Look back at past behaviours, actions and decisions and honestly determine if these brought you closer to your authentic self or not. Having a frame of reference makes it easier for us to measure if our actions are beneficial to our authentic self.
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