One question that readers of The Journal Writer’s Handbook often pose is “How can I be more authentic?”
There is no doubt that reflective writing encourages us to tune in to our most authentic self – what we really think, want and feel – and how we express that.
It is a lot to do with our own truth. But often we have to mine through a lot of surface conditioning and inherited thinking before we get to the authentic core.
The question what does authenticity feel like is a weird one – yet it is also really the only meaningful question to ask. You can look up authenticity in a dictionary and you will find a number of useful synonyms – but the feeling of authenticity is actually the only thing that counts.
Jordan Peterson describes the moment he realised that much of what he said was “dead wood”, when he recognised that he was spouting other people’s opinions or knowledge – not what he really thought for himself. He attributed to this realisation a particular physical sensation of misalignment.
I have experienced something similar, when I have acted in a way that doesn’t feel genuine to me, and I have written about it in my journal as a feeling as if my insides have become disjointed.
When you say or do something and your body immediately feels bad or disconnected or somehow compressed or twisted – that is the feeling of inauthenticity. In that case, what does the opposite of that feel like?
Maybe to feel authentic is to feel aligned. Connected. Like all our body parts are hanging together in the way they should!
And beyond that perhaps authenticity feels strong and upright, where there is space in our lungs and our belly to breathe deeply, laugh loud and sing our song. Maybe it’s a feeling of satisfaction, of being on purpose, of joy.
So inquire into what authenticity feels like to you. And more importantly, take note of when your body and your mood feel at their best. That’s when you’re being your true, authentic You.