Authenticity by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.”
Each of us comes into the world with a unique biology, set of skills and talents. Anyone who has raised a child knows it’s all there right from the beginning. Under the age of five, children tend to be spontaneous and genuine, moving through the world with a natural sense of curiosity and self-expression. Young children tend to be fully present in the moment, expressing their emotions as they surface from an authentic inner space. You can always tell what is going on inside of young children. If they are feeling happy, they exude delight. If they are feeling curious, they are all about exploration and comprehension. If they are angry, they erupt in the moment and then settle down. If they are feeling loving and loved, they exhibit the pure expression of love, hugging a person or even a tree.
And then, something happens. Past the age of five (or sometimes even sooner), natural expression goes underground. Or, as my son so wisely observed many years ago: “the world gets to them.” External comparison and judgement moves into their inner space and crowds out authenticity. Some of this is necessary in order to build cultural and societal values and integrity, however, some of this is about conforming to significant others’ beliefs about who they should and need to be. The loss of authenticity is a double loss. It’s impossible to fully develop and manifest your gifts in the world when these gifts are constantly repressed. The psychic energy required for this type of repression results in a loss of vitality and wellbeing. Additionally, your failure to be authentic deprives the world of your unique skills, mindsets, vision, way of being in the world and potential legacies. What one action step can you take today to express your authentic self?
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