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How Can We Use Mindfulness to Pave the Way for Authenticity?

Key Shared Insights & Perspectives

What is Authenticity?

Melissa started the discussion by exploring the definition of authenticity, according to Donald Woods Winnicott, an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst. Winnicott developed several theories and concepts that helped shape the way in which psychoanalysis is practiced today.

For Winnicott, authenticity starts with the understanding of the expression of the true and false selves. He believed that the false self was a mannerly, orderly, external self that enabled a person to fit into society. The true self, he asserted, was the self capable of creativity. He thought the act of playing was an important path by which clients could gain awareness into their true, authentic, emotional selves.

Listen to Melissa sharing her definition of authenticity.

How Do You Express Authenticity?

Misty Gilbert provided another way of looking at how to express our authenticity. She explains that there is another side of authenticity, which is spontaneity.

To be spontaneous requires us to be vulnerable in the moment by being just who we are. In this context, Misty defined authenticity as being open, real, raw and vulnerable.

From childhood, we’ve been conditioned to care about how others might perceive and receive us and to behave accordingly. We’ve been taught to put a mask on our personality, depending on our environment.

The true journey toward authenticity begins when we don't allow our environment to control how we respond. When we choose to show up regardless of who's on the call or who's in the room, then we are 100% ourselves. It enables us to channel the raw, vulnerable energy inside us as we communicate and relate to those around us.

Listen to Misty W Gilbert sharing her definition and her experience expressing authenticity.

What Are the Roles We Play?

The roles we play with our family, our partner and at work can all be very different and we can notice a shift when we go from one to the other, or a conflict when they get mixed up.

When we embody our roles too strongly or become unconscious of them, we are in danger of losing our authentic self.

When we remove the masks for those roles we play, when we can no longer rely on them to define who we are, we are faced with the question: Who am I really?

What’s left after peeling away the false layers is more truthful and genuine, even if it’s an unknown quantify, Listen to Ashok Zaman sharing his view on the idea of roles we identify.

How Can You Cultivate Authenticity?

Practicing mindfulness seems to be one road to cultivate authenticity. The panel shared their own tools for developing authenticity:

  1. Purposely focus on the present and just being through meditation.

  2. Answer the call to experience truth by purposely removing our masks.

  3. Observe, separate, and own the thoughts that are subconsciously running us without judging them, then surrender them which leads to being free.

  4. Find your core values are and align with them regardless of others’ perceptions

  5. Allow yourself to come unprepared and be vulnerable in the moment .

  6. Lean into loneliness, whether physical or mental.

Individual Take-aways

As we came to the end of the hour, our group ended the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their take-aways from the conversation.

Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode.

Final Thoughts to Consider

Authenticity is the ability to maintain an individual “you” state of mind in the present moment despite pressures and obligations to conform to society, the past, the future, our families, our culture, and friends.

In a complex, globalized world that gives you access to information and stimulation around the clock, it feels more and more like authenticity isn’t something you can choose to have once.

It has to be something you choose to mindfully have on a daily basis and it starts with deeply understanding your core values.

What is it that matters to you? And are you living in alignment with it internally and externally?

These questions are the foundation to living your life authentically with your true self leading the way. The answers can give you the inspiration to face the consequences of being vulnerable and refusing to conform to self-imposed or external expectations.

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