By Kim Saffran
In more recent time, the word ‘authentic’ – especially when used to describe and encourage the ever- evolving ‘self’ – has given us reason to pause and then, perhaps, assess our level of authenticity, if we’re doing enough to achieve it and how exactly to go about this. I am one of those; wondering if I have achieved this distinction.
Simply put, authenticity is a state of your thoughts and actions corresponding to your true, inner self – who you know yourself to be at your core. When I sought to learn if I were, indeed, authentic, I realized I wasn’t, at least not in the way it was thoughtfully described by spiritual teachers. That was a bitter pill to swallow. I had always thought of myself to be genuine, fully aligned with what I felt was so deeply-rooted in who I was, what I thought and who I sought to be. It was more than surprising. And, it intrigued me. I needed to learn more and had this growing desire to be an authentic-type person who, I came to understand, was more joyous than most as the embrace to be aware of and willing to fully demonstrate ones uniqueness liberated us from who we were ‘supposed’ to be, expected to be and, ultimately, who we had chosen to be. There was a new path ahead and it was time to take those first steps.
For those of us who have participated in ‘self work,’ the courage to lean in to the places that house the most vulnerable and undressed parts of us and their root causes teach us that it is not only courage that is needed but time, patience and love of self. For many of us, this may land us back at the beginning. For context, there are many that are not taught self-love but, rather, love of others and of things. Self- love, on the other hand, trusts that we will nurture and heal the inner child, acknowledge our wounding and celebrate all that is exclusive to us no matter how out of alignment it may be within the confines of our experiences. It is here that we graciously and willingly accept our oneness.
I believe it takes exceptional spirit to resist the undeniable and embedded conditioning and societal reinforcements that keep us safely within our comfort zones. And, it is only upon admitting that there is, in fact, more to us that we go in search of the very things that will help ensure our liberation. Of these, is the choice to embrace all that is flawed and imperfect about us and encouraging to the surface a quiet determination to experience the world and ourselves anew; capable of changing a life; creating a beautifully expanded world. Breathing in this new existence must be gentle for the ‘us’ that we seek to deliver has, usually, been perfectly trained to remain quiet, still, ‘in place.’
To create a new reality is frightening, to say the least. But here’s the thing. It’s one step. And, then, it’s another. It’s one thought and then an action which supports it – and then we repeat. Before we realize it, we are, in essence, delivering ourselves.. away from ourselves. We are creating new footing on which to stand and a new voice which says, “Yes. This is okay. You are fine, just as you are.” The best part? This voice is your own. It is a voice that gently reminds you that you will fall – but you will also rise. You will fail – but you will also succeed. You will falter in your beliefs and actions – but you will, invariably, right yourself once again and, in time, cultivate bonds with those whom you share yourself and who will lift you up when you quietly question, “Am I doing enough?” You are.
I liken our existence to a tree. Mostly, the necessary components for its survival is, simply, to be left alone. The sun and the rain and conditions conducive its growth, when aligned, produce something that is majestic; strong, unfaltering and lovely – like you. I also believe that what further stabilizes this tree is its roots. On more than one occasion, I have referred to those closest to me as the roots in my tree of life. And, while I am ever-thankful for this unwavering support, I also know that what helps ground me is the work I’ve accomplished on my own. To become steady and sustainable we must seek out and embrace that which educates and empowers us and to do this requires that we lean in to the lessons that life is teaching us. If we are good stewards of our health and well being, we listen. There will be times we choose not to, certainly, but this is more conditioning; turning aside from information that doesn’t gel with our subjective nature. To be objective, we must be open, intent and patient. In doing so, we begin the journey toward altering our lives from one solidly in place, safe and, perhaps, unyielding to one that is more fluid, adaptable and oriented to growth – be it emotional, spiritual or environmental. There are many other facets to our lives to be impacted when we choose change.
You. Me. We are ‘becoming’ and to fully understand and appreciate the distance we’ve traveled, we must accept who we were. As one of the most moving experiences I’ve encountered in all my years, I’ve arrived at that place where past wishes to become ‘the finest version of myself’ are being realized. And, if we are lucky, there are years ahead of us to continue ‘becoming.’ Personally, I think it is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves – and to others; our authenticity, the finest of who are, the courage to have become our best selves as a result of stepping out of our own way, proving that nothing is out of reach.
Onward. And inward.