Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age

It’s hard to live authentically in the world. Our lives demand that we play a variety of roles: employee, business owner, husband, son or daughter, father or mother, and spouse. We wear a lot of hats, and need to keep changing them out many times a day. We’re bombarded with tons of messages (from medi and from those in or lives) that tell us what to do, think, eat, and how to be. It’s no wonder that we’re stressed, frazzled, and confused a lot of the time. If we don’t have a rock solid foundation within ourselves to make decisions, it’s much more easy to get swayed by those outside messages. A lot of what we see, hear and consume on a daily basis may be of questionable authenticity, everything from really knowing the people we think we know, understanding what is real vs. fake int he news media, distrust of our religious and political institutions, and the like. The only real, secure grounding we have is in ourselves.

I propose that we can cut down a lot of the stress and confusion if we can learn to live how we truly want to live, and not for how we think others want us to live. A lot of the time, we stop living authentically, to who we really are and what we really need and like.

Living authentically means that you reside in a secure place in yourself. Other people’s demands and wants of you don’t control your voice.         You’re grounded or anchored in how you want to define and live your life, like a sturdy oak tree. You can bend and sway to the demands of life, but you’re firmly rooted in your own.

When we don’t live authentically, we make decisions that end up undermining our lives. We may get into marriages that we end up regretting, or taking jobs that either make us happy nor set us up for professional or personal success. We compare and contrast ourselves ceaselessly, deciding what new car, home or vacation we want  based on who we know has what already, or how we think we need to complete the fantasy life in our minds that’s not really ours to begin with. We create elaborate storylines about how we want to populate our lives, but what if the storyline is all wrong? What if it’s not true to what you really want for your own life?

Closing the gap between fantasy (illusion) and our own realities is important. A lot of the times, how we think we should love our lives is different from how we really want to live our lives. We think that doing such and such will make us happier, but once we’ve done it, it pans out to disappoint us.

Learning to make better decisions in our lives means really tuning in and listening to what your actual needs, wants, desires, and fears entail. Am I making decisions because I really want to do something, or do not do it? Or my doing it to appease or please someone else, including a parent, spouse, child, or boss? Who am I really serving with my decision?

It takes a lot of courage to live authentically, because a lot of the times, living authentically means that you are doing it your own way, not someone else’s way. It may disappoints, anger, frustration, or generally upset other people, including those closest to you, but sometimes living authentically will do that. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be empathic or compassionate for others, and work towards a healthy compromise. But, when you turn over your voice and give it to someone else, you disempower yourself and make less agreeable decisions.

Here are some questions for you to consider about living authentically:

  • Do I feel like I’m living authentically in my life? In which areas of my life do I not live authentically?
  • Am my inclined to make decisions for myself, or for others?
  • Does fear control my decision-making process, and prevent me from living genuinely?
  • If you could picture it in your mind, what would be ideal vision be that promotes authenticity in your life? It could be in the areas of work, play, relationships, money, health and wellness, et cetera.
  • Do I trust my gut feeling, or my hunches on things?
  • If I do live for others, how do I do that? What does that look like?
  • Do I know what my needs and wants are? Are there things that prevent me from speaking them to the people in my life?

This starter list of questions can get you going to start thinking along the lines of developing more authenticity in your life. The benefits to living more authentically are increased happiness, more freedom, more emotional awareness and more fulfilling relationships. Sound good? Like is way too short to live in authentically, so learn to develop your own authentic self for a happier life.


 

 

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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