One of the biggest stumbling blocks for my clients as they step more and more fully into their authentic selves is figuring out what is actually authentic for them. I often hear them say things like: “It does feel authentic”, or “This doesn’t feel like me”, or “Which is the most authentic part?” People want to know: How do I be my most authentic self (all the time)?
Here’s the thing: there is no such thing as 100% authenticity.
In any given moment, there are between 5 and 20 different things going on that are all “authentic’” parts of me (or you). For example, right now there’s one part that’s excited about expressing this and another part that already wants to re-do it. I’m tired. I’m turned on. I also feel a small amount of anxiety below my heart. I could name many different experiences and thoughts I’m having, all of which are “authentic” to me.
How do I express my Authentic Self?!
Instead of focusing directly on that, here’s where I like to play:
In the midst of all those different feelings and thoughts, there’s usually some that are more comfortable, louder & easier to access. You could argue they’re the most authentic but I would argue they’ve just been used the most, they just happen to have the most well-worn grooves in your body/mind.
Utah Phillips has this great quote that’s something to the effect of:
“Water follows the path of least resistance, and following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked.”
Once a habit begins (and most of our habits started very early in life and totally unconsciously), that’s just where our energy flows. It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the most authentic, or that it is what will serve you (or the people in your life) most.
How I like to think about this is to look at the different parts of me like radio signals.
In any given moment there are a bunch radio signals, all saying: “Pay attention to me!” or “Express me!” or “Do me!”
I like to look for the parts of me that don’t get much airtime—the signals that tend to get skipped over because they’re quieter and got lost in the noise.
For instance, when my daughter gets really excited and her whole body shakes, she jumps up and down. Yesterday, I looked at her doing this and thought: What do I do when I get really excited? I realized what I do is get really still and quiet. When I get excited, I have a habit of not wanting to show it. My radio signal around stillness is really strong.
Is that true for me? Absolutely. My capacity for stillness and holding space and listening is a deep and authentic part of me. There are other parts of me, too! Parts that—when I’m excited—want to jump up and down and giggle and clap my hands. It’s a groove that isn’t very well worn even though it’s also true.
So, start by noticing the parts of yourself that are there and also true but a little less worn. Then, find out what happens when you express the part that’s a little less comfortable but also true.
A version of this post was originally posted on KendraCunov.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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