The Authentic You

The Authentic You

How many times have we found ourselves in a conversation with someone that is full of it? Unfortunately, it is likely we all know at least one person, family member or coworker. Someone always trying to sell you on who they are, or promote themselves with every chance they get to speak. But this piece is not to complain about others.

It is about you. How do you know that’s not you?

How do you know how you are coming across to others? Who do they think YOU are? I have three things.

One: Get to know yourself how others know you.

Well first, you’d need to ask. The fascinating thing about feedback is that it is totally necessary and crucial to our progress in life yet most of us have learned how to totally avoid it. For those of you that love giving honest feedback, you know that it doesn’t “make people happy”. Remember that critique is an art though and it is important to understand that if someone doesn’t already respect you or have that relationship with you, then they won’t be able to receive your feedback.

So whose feedback do you respect? Who gives you the real answer and doesn’t sugar coat it or try to manage your feelings? Are the people around you dedicated to pleasing you or building authentic connections?

Therein lies the primary issue with getting to know ourselves, we may have surrounded ourselves with a lot of “yes sir”, “yes ma’am” followers and nobody that gives it to us straight. 

“Fake friends write the wrong answers on the mirror for me” -Lil Wayne, Right Above It

Find a few real friends and and get some real feedback… ASAP.

Two: Be thankful for the honest feedback. 

Imagine yourself at the dinner table and your mom or dad is telling you all the things that they are worried about… Do you get defensive?

Why do you think that is? If what they were saying really was crazy and off target, then why did it provoke such a response?

Here is a better response: Thank you for caring enough about me to be honest with me. 

Often we are defensive after we get some feedback, but, in my experience, the more triggered I am, the more true the feedback. If someone were to call you what you are not, then you would not experience emotion. You’d think “who cares?” But when someone says something that lands, we can feel our response build and grow inside of us. I.e If you call an honest man a liar, he will be indifferent but if you call a dishonest man a liar, he might try to hurt you. 

The point is that we have conditioned ourselves to react a certain way to our emotions and our beliefs about ourselves. So when someone critiques us, instead of accepting it, we deflect it and continue on being whatever we are being. It feels like they are attacking our identity when, in essence, they are merely critiquing a set of behavior that is bothersome.

Try saying thank you instead, even if they are dead wrong, it is good practice for patience. Also, take feedback for what it is: words.

Three: Be consistent and be committed moving forward. 

In scientific experiments there are dependent variables, independent variables, and constants. The dependent are dependent upon the outcome, the measured data. Whereas the independent variables are manipulated in the experiment.

As humans, free will enables us to view everything as impermanent, ever-changing. Constants are the most important variables to focus on though, this helps scientists to further understand results and also enables replicated and repeated testing. Or, in our case, replicated and repeated failure and success. You would like to repeat the latter, right?

In science, this might be temperature, size, pH, or instrumental measures, but in everyday life, we use values. Things like integrity, confidence, passion, love, courage, etc. The level of alignment we feel internally with these values are our objective data on which we can understand ourselves.

How we stick to our values is how we are typically judged inaccurately. Often we try to connect our head to our heart by putting our heads up our you know what. Similarly, as an experiment can be unreliable, our judgement of ourselves can be just as untrustworthy. The way in which an experiment can be inaccurate, we can have unrealistic beliefs about ourselves and our abilities. 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” -Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

We might not be able to choose what happens and we end up having, we may not even be able to choose what we are forced to do to get by and make ends meet, but we can choose who we are going to be, what attitude we are choosing to have in any given set of circumstances. Perhaps the authentic life we want to live can be replicated, refined and repeated. We can maintain that consistency today, tomorrow and even long after our time here.

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