I have written a good number of articles on authenticity. It is a constant theme for my clients, many of whom do not know what to be, what they should be or even have much sense of who they are. It is hard to be authentically us, if the parts of us we hide from the world are perceived as wrong. Even finding those parts of us can be challenging, as playing roles has become so embedded in our society we can no longer see what we are beyond that role playing behaviour.

Often our dis ease and unhappiness is a result of not being who we are; not being our authentic self. Playing a role, playing the game has taken over. Today in this society in which I live, it is even difficult to rest. With so much pressure to be successful, to be extraordinary, to be productive, with every minute of every day. As a result we feel guilty for resting. In some circles exhaustion has taken on a status symbol, and we are praised for our fortitude even as our vitality is spent. That guilt we may feel for resting is actually retroflected resentment, but that’s a theme for another day.

Our authentic selves have been lost to other peoples should’s, to norms handed down from our ancestors, our parents, our forbearers or our society. As a result we have hidden parts of ourselves away, placed these parts in dark recesses and lost all but the slimmest contact with them. These parts were disrespected or unwanted by others, so in order to fit in we sublimated ourselves to others ideas of what we should be. Perhaps it is time to look in the shadow and find them again.

You will find that some are not pleasant to experience, you may find your anger, your rage, and still if you have suppressed these, both need an outlet, both must be assimilated and expressed. We must find a path which does not hurt others, but allows us to express the full extent of our being.

Look carefully and you may find your creativity and all its explosive force, you may find your sexual desire, your passion, your compassion, even your ability to love and be vulnerable… The shadowy places we have hidden ourselves, do not contain all horror. You will find joy, you will find expression, spontaneity, intelligence.

We imagine we have only done away with aspects people thought negative, but you will be mistaken. A child that danced with joy, who was told to sit still and stop embarrassing himself, will have learned to hideaway the dancing self that takes joy in movement. He will be stilted and lack grace in movement as a result. But, perhaps it is time to shake of others ideas of what we are, and allow ourselves to find those parts again.

Live your life by another’s should’s
and you will live no life at all.