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Authenticity

Turn Your Life Inside-Out in a Good Way

It is an inner journey

Key points

  • Researchers scrutinize the tension between authenticity and honesty. They are not always the same.
  • Being authentic and honest—with ourselves—requires a kind of suffering and creates meaning.
  • Being authentic to oneself is a process, something to practice and explore.

It is vital for me to bring more of what lies beneath—my inner life—into the world.

There were times in my life when, without realizing it, I pushed away my inner life all the while trying to rescue and tend to it. Who doesn’t want to belong? Who doesn’t want to be honored simply for being who they are?

Authenticity is defined as being true to yourself, but does being true to yourself always mean being truthful?” That’s what the authors of a recent study in Current Opinion in Psychology want to know. They “scrutinize the possible tension between the two.” I really like this question and their scrutiny but with a twist. Exploring how we remain authentic and truthful with ourselves is a useful endeavor.

In Frontiers in Psychology, different authors looked at suffering as a natural, necessary component of an authentic life. I was relieved to read this, given the bad rap suffering gets from those who hammer home judgmental edicts about, among other things, the power of creating one’s own destiny and others who may misinterpret and mangle the Buddha’s message that “Pain is certain, suffering is optional.” These authors conclude that suffering is “constitutive of meaning in life and authenticity, which are key components of a well-lived life.”

Being truthful with oneself is not without suffering. I believe that what Buddha wants us to understand is that resisting the deepest truth within is where suffering comes from. Perhaps it is resisting that is optional, though going with the flow—outer and inner—takes practice. Daily practice, and what it looks like is different for everyone.

Denying the truth and one’s inner life, putting positive overlays over everything, particularly in places they don’t belong will eventually prove intolerable and unsustainable. Instead, there is power in, as a friend of mine says, learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. What she means is learning to tolerate the tension between one’s inner life and what may be going on in the outside world—and being truthful with oneself about the realities of both.

The author of a paper in Psychiatria Danubia, offers a framework through the lens of spirituality that actually honors suffering, and I believe the principles apply. “Live in the liberating truth.” And, “Accept and devise in faith the inevitable suffering.”

This is what it means to belong, to be, and be human from the inside out.

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