Authenticity

I’m going to go out on a limb with this post and get rather personal.  I’m beginning to see where I try to present a facade that is not exactly congruent with reality.  I have always had problems with self-acceptance.  Throughout my teenage years and into my 20’s, I had great difficulty discussing my faith with others.  I immediately presumed that being a Christian put me in a class of scorn.  In hindsight, now that I am no longer a Christian, I have observed that one’s faith does not tend to lead to derision, unless it is forcefully imposed on others.  In retrospect, I had developed a cognitive strategy of defense against imagined attackers (who had previously not been imagined in the form of bullies) – to avoid the facts about my life situation as much as possible.

This strategy lead to creating a rather mundane life for me, for instead of being actively involved in social activities, I would hide behind my self-constructed defenses.  I never did learn how to do anything else.  Yet at many times I have attempted to move beyond my circumstances, since I just find them completely unsatisfying.  I get so far, and then compare the achievements and experiences of others to my own, and cringe.  Back with the defenses, with the facade, shrinking back to my hole.

The only way I can see to escape this behaviour is through authenticity.  That is, to see the facts of my situation clearly – I am a person with needs, like every other person.  I need to be wanted, to be loved, to be appreciated, to be respected, to be connected to others.  I need to take pleasure in life.  There is nothing good or bad about these needs, they are just how our minds are programmed to function.  Life achievements and experiences are merely individuating details, the things that make each of us different.  If people have these details and I do not, all that does is demarcate our differences.   I do have things that make me particularly unique, but at the end of the day the core needs bind me with humanity.  I can choose to take pride, or be disgusted with my own individual traits, yet either choice is unnecessary in the long run.  A rich life is made up in the fulfillment of the basic needs rather than the amassing of details.

The understanding that everyone has the same basic needs undermines my defensive strategy, for I can then appreciate that beyond the details are yearnings and desires similar to my own.  I can then accept my own personal details, knowing that I have these needs in common with others.  Our needs rather than our details come together for mutual benefit.  What about the details that I do not like but cannot change?  That is another thing I have in common with others, imperfection.  There are two great things to be celebrated in humanity, namely diversity and commonality.  Life would be so very boring without them.

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3 responses to “Authenticity

  • Mike aka MonolithTMA

    “to see the facts of my situation clearly”

    That can be the tricky part, and usually is for me. I have moments of clarity, but then tend to fall back into my usual routine. I find that if I create a new routine and actually stick to it, then I can make the changes in my life that I desire.

  • Karla

    Yes, I agree that authenticity is important. That is one of the values I and the other leaders in my church set forth that we always want to be authentic about everything.

  • Gary

    Karla, I wish that were the case for most churches, but definitely was a minority experience for me! In fact, I’m about to post up the video for the Oprah special on Ted Haggard which is a little illustrative of this problem.

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