Time and time again I hear people say that being authentic is all about being yourself.
I don't agree with that.
You see, if you were to be yourself right now you would show up wearing a mask; a censored version of yourself.
I used to wear a mask to work every day. I was a teacher in an FE college attempting to hide a secret from my colleagues.
I didn't want to have that whole awkward 'I am gay' conversation in a busy staff room over tea and biscuits. So, I hid who I really was behind a mask. I would put that mask on when I left my bedroom in the morning and wear it all day. It reached a point where I became exhausted from pretending to be someone else and dodging the humiliation of being 'outed' at work.
This mask is a way to hide who we are because all we really want is to fit in. To be accepted.
You didn't always have that mask. Take a moment to think back to your childhood. Playing with your friends on a sunny day; laughing, being silly and having fun. You were carefree with no responsibilities, you were happy and peaceful. No mask.
We reach a point in our development when we become more conscious and start to question the world around us.
We begin to accumulate labels for ourselves: daughter, son, mother, father, gay, straight, trans, boy, girl, non-binary, creative, unlucky, student, shy – you get the idea. When someone asks what we do we are a health worker, hair technician, teacher. We become defined by our labels but this simply adds another layer for us to hide behind.
To be authentic is to know who you really are and to express yourself fully in any given moment.
Here are the 10 silent saboteurs to being truly authentic:
1. The social conditioning you experience throughout your life 2. The belief system you adopted in early childhood 3. The things you fear 4. The doubts you have (am I good enough?) 5. Your anxieties 6. Stress 7. Your worries 8. Previous judgements about you 9. Criticisms 10. Past hurts you have internalised and suppressed
All of that has built up, layer upon layer and become ingrained into your subconscious.
Those layers form your identity. Your identity is what people see on the outside.
Imagine an onion. When you peel it right back and get to the middle - that is where your Soul is. That is your heart, your essence. That is the real and authentic you.
These layers are built up from childhood conditioning, the beliefs you formed at an early age, the judgements you have received from others, the labels you have 'collected' to describe who you are over the years, the masks you wear to protect yourself. AND lots more.
Let's be clear here. You are NOT your identity.
The authentic you is underneath all of that. The authentic and real you is that peaceful, joyful, creative, loving, passionate soul underneath all of those layers.
To be truly authentic involves stripping back all the layers. One after the other. Peeling them away and releasing them. Strip back the layers and your authentic and true self will shine through.
There you go. Now you know what authenticity is and the 10 silent saboteurs to being truly authentic.
About Gina Battye
Described as "The Best of Louise Hay and Ellen DeGeneres", Gina Battye is an internationally sought after teacher, authenticity coach and award-winning LGBT speaker.
Gina re-connects individuals to their Authentic Self & is the leading voice for LGBT self help.