No B.S Friday: This doctor has given me a whole new outlook on authenticity
I used to think ‘authenticity’ was a bit of a magical thing.
It’s a drive we all have. I’m sure of that. We want to live in a way that’s authentic – that’s true to ourselves.
We want to feel that our outward life reflects our inner life. That we move in a way that’s true to our values and beliefs.
I didn’t really question where that came from. Sometimes I wondered if that authenticity was what the mystics talked about when they talked about a ‘soul’ – a potent energy deep inside us that longed to be expressed.
But I knew that authenticity was one of the keys to happiness. I knew that it didn’t matter what you achieved in the material world – it didn’t matter how big your penthouse was or how shiny your car was – if you weren’t being authentic to yourself then you’d never be happy.
So I was very interested this week when I watched a doco on Gabor Mate. He’s a doctor that’s worked a lot with trauma, and the way trauma lives on in the decisions we make and the way we live our lives.
(Amazing dude. Check it out if you haven’t had the chance.)
Anyway, he said that there only two basic needs we have as humans. Attachment (connection and intimacy), and authenticity.
But for him, authenticity wasn’t some airy-fairy idea. It was a biological imperative.
For him, it’s connected to our gut – our intuition.
The world we evolved in was too complex and too fast to meet with the conscious mind. If you suddenly heard the foot-fall of a sabre tooth tiger behind you, you had to react instinctively. You couldn’t wait for you head to process what was happening. You had to let your body drive. You had to move at the speed of instinct.
Authenticity then is a feeling that comes when your body’s instincts play out in a healthy way within you. It’s when there is space for them. It’s when it’s ok for the body’s instincts to be expressed.
This is authenticity. It’s a survival mechanism.
And that’s why we value authenticity so much. It’s why we feel so lost and despondent when we are living in an inauthentic way or living inauthentic lives.
If there’s no space for genuine emotion and genuine authentic expression, then we are cut off from the most important survival tool we have – the instincts of our own body.
And so when we deny anger and suppress it, we disconnect from our instincts. And when we deny grief and suppress it, we disconnect from our instincts. And when we deny our sensual and sexual sides, we disconnect from our instincts.
But we rely on our instincts. We’ve relied on our instincts for millennia.
So is it any wonder that if we’re being inauthentic – if we’re disconnected from our bodies – we feel alienated, alone and scared?
And isn’t authenticity then the key to courage?
So I don’t know. I’m still not sure where this lands.
But I’m seeing authenticity in a whole new light.
Living true to yourself and living on your own terms – it’s even more awesome (and important!) than I’d imagined.