You know being authentic feels good. You know you want to feel fully yourself and fully expressed. Great. Because the world needs more of that.
Only, we need to get clear about what it means to be whole, to be authentic, to be fully expressed.
Leading with the young part of yourself doesn't equal authenticity.
You know the one I mean? The one who feels young inside, who perhaps is over-vulnerable, who asks the world to be a certain way so as not to feel pained. The young one wants things to be their way.
Somewhere along the line, authenticity got mixed up with asking other people to do things a particular way because the way they're doing them now is uncomfortable for you.
The young part is needy. Expectant. Sometimes urgent. Has a low tolerance.
The young part tends to forget that relationships are built on acceptance.
Let me back up for a moment. See, when we lead with a younger part of ourselves, we want others to sacrifice their authenticity to accommodate our preferences.
But to be authentic is to be whole, which includes the adult part of us. The part who can see, recognize, and love those younger or less mature parts of ourselves enough that we don't put them out on the front lines all the time. Instead, we see that we have preferences, and we snuggle up to that part of ourselves and give her validation and love so that the adult of us can take the lead.
Because the adult of us knows that relationships are built on acceptance and honors the diversity of the way other people express their unique human-ness.
Even if the way they're doing it is uncomfortable for us. That's maturity.
But what about boundaries, you say? Don't I get to have boundaries?
Yes. Yes. Of course. Having healthy boundaries means you've created a relationship with yourself intimate enough that you're aware of your needs versus your preferences and who of you is speaking the boundary or request. You know where you're coming from.
Meaning that you're able to make distinctions about where to make requests of another and where to focus on soothing the part of you that feels young so that you can get back to the good work of acceptance. (No one gets this right all the time).
Healthy boundaries mean that you might be able to share, with levity and surrender, that someone's behavior drives you nuts, but you're working on accepting it because you care about them. And healthy boundaries can also look like making a request because you actually have a need that someone do something differently, for example.
So when I think about the recipe for authenticity, it looks a little like this:
Authenticity = acting and speaking from wholeness, where wholeness = the adult of you in the lead (willing to listen to all other parts and make decisions about who gets the mic and when) who's also holding healthy boundaries + a healthy desire to honor and accept both self and other + telling the Truth with a capital T
Easier said than done. I'd like to suggest that authenticity and wholeness are complex practices.
So practice and keep practicing. And then practice some more. Gently.
If this was clarifying for you, your loved ones would probably appreciate the clarity too, so use the share button below to give them food for thought.