One sentence, three words, changed the course of my life. I left my job in search of something else, something authentic. I made a promise to “find something authentic.”
I wish I could report that personal enlightenment drove my commitment to those three words, but that would be a lie – it was desperation and dumb luck. I just wanted to feel better. The degree to which I had become inauthentic was staggering.
Jung says it is “the privilege of a lifetime.”
Why does he use such strong words to describe the value of knowing your true self, authentic self?
Think about it. We are born without instructions; no booklet comes with a newborn. Without a personal guide, model number 345 who tends towards the arts, hay fever, and enjoys tennis is not known to us. How do we realize our true natures?
Before we are able to form a thought, the world is dropping us into categories: our gender, our skill sets, our looks. All these labels are established before our brains are fully developed. School, family, and culture tells us who we are and who we are not. But often these well meaning external forces don’t lead us down the path of who we “truly are.”
When do we attempt to “know” our true nature? Do we inventory our self, like we inventory our pantry? And how can you access that authentic self after a life of beliefs have been placed so deeply into your psyche that you cannot tell what is truly you and what is not?
Jung says it is a “privilege” and takes a “lifetime” because we have to muddle through the misguided beliefs of our youth to discover our authentic selves. This is what I refer to as emotional weight.
But that is just the beginning. Once we have the knowledge of who we are, we have to take action to become, to actualize this authentic self. Without action, we are simply aware of our true self, we have not become our true self.
We live in the world. We interact with the world daily. Our life must be comprised of actions in accordance with our true self.
Emotional Authenticity Workout
- Distinguish between your authentic voice and your false self.
- Who are you? What are the 5-8 characteristics that make you, you. Hint: where do you feel light, alive, happiest, alive, free? Write them down – everything you can think of.
- What are the justifications you say to yourself to deny your core self? Write those down – and who told you that this part of you is wrong. Hint: how do those justifications feel? Heavy, filled with dread? This is a sign that they are excess weight.
- Challenge that justification. Is it true? And how can you be anything other than you? Isn’t that like questioning how a plant is a plant? Or a plant grows in the soil. You are you and that is neither right or wrong, it just is.
- Can’t get your list? Try some meditation to learn how to distinguish between impostors and authentic voices in your mind.
- Take action. Have your list? What can you do to cultivate your authentic self? Where are these skills most needed? What are all the ways you can utilize them?
I love that Jung calls it a privilege because it is. We think in terms of money, schools, travel, etc as privilege, but what if those are simply pleasures and true self awareness is the greatest privilege life can afford?