The Authenticity Game

Get real!
I’ve recently noticed that all my close friends and associates are “out there” … and by “out there” I mean away from the norm. Why is that? Do I have some need to be around people who are different?

I don’t think so.

Upon further inspection I’ve noticed that they are not all that different, they’re just real. Something about the way they interact with me occurs to me as authentic. Authenticity is a core value of mine … so it makes sense I would have this “demand” of people.

Core values will be described in more detail later, but a quick insight right now reveals authenticity as a core value is showing up as a common denominator in the relationships I choose. Look for yourself in your own life.

Authenticity is a strange phenomenon. It’s one of those admirable traits we say we like in people, but when it comes down to the challenge of practicing it, it’s easy for us to fall short.

In fact one could argue that we as human beings tend to be inherently inauthentic. We may even hold the unique distinction on the planet of being the only species that is more driven to look good and cover up the truth rather than let our natural flaws reveal themselves. Conventional psychology suggests that we are born authentic and remain so until the age of 3 or 4. At that point in our development something happens, and we start to interpret things, events and people rather than simply experience them and thus, we’re screwed. We start losing the authenticity game.

Cynical point of view?

Yeah, maybe … but here’s the good news: Maybe it’s this inauthentic noise in our head that gives us access to power and freedom.

How do we get through the noise and win the game?

First we identify the noise for what it really is: a pretense … usually in the form of whatever falls out of our mouth on a regular basis. Here’s a classic example of a pretense:

Oh … no problem, everything’s fine.

Sound familiar?
The steps to win the game are simple, but they can be challenging.

1. Come clean and get straight about it.
You know what … I just told a lie. Everything is not fine.
2. Be willing to tell the truth.
The truth is I’ve been too scared to say how I really feel, because I’ve been more interested in putting on a happy face than telling you the truth.
3. Take accountability for how this noise has affected feelings and behavior.
I apologize. I’m sure you’ve been confused by my actions and attitude. I’ve been upset and avoiding you, so I wouldn’t have to deal with this.
4. Reconcile and say what you’re committed to in the future; then take actions accordingly in a responsible way.
From this moment on I’m committed to working with you in real partnership. You can count on me to be straight with you even if it’s difficult. So, here’s what I need to say …

In the beginning I coach people to practice these conversations in the mirror. It can seem awkward at first, but once it’s taken on as a regular practice it becomes more natural … even easy. After a while our tolerance for in-authenticity drops and we just start to notice it more often. Most of us live our lives without this awareness and thus are asleep to the possibility that an authentic experience exists.

What a shame. Lucky for you, you are reading my brilliant story!