New age teachings have a lot of emphasis on being “the real you”, “yourself”, “self” etc. Living an authentic life is valued and sought after. What is it to be authentic and how can we reach it. Let’s explore these questions in this article.
Before going further, I recommend you read the article on forgiveness where we look into what the “ego” is as described in spiritual traditions and what we mean by “inner possessions”.
Imagine a mad and destitute man walking by a busy street, carrying a bag full of worthless items clutched between his shoulders. He is under the illusion that the whole world is after his bag and is shivering with fear. Even if someone tries to talk to him, he shies away and doesn’t respond. He believes that the whole world is conspiring against him. When we are in the grip of the ego, the world seems to be a hostile place and we act very similar to that destitute person. The bag that the person was clutching is synonymous with the concepts, stories and opinions in our head. Like him we are not able to respond to the world properly and thus live a life of low quality.
The way we respond to any challenge has a tinge of fear, because apart from overcoming the challenge we are having an agenda to save our inner possessions. Since we are not able to focus our full energy on the task, the lack lustre quality of our actions becomes evident. This is the essence of being inauthentic. A good amount of our energy is focussed on the image which we have about our self and what others have about us, and we become careful, not to damage the image a person walking around carrying a delicate glass vase. Why do you think the world is obsessed about showing off money, clothes, properties etc. and with the advent of social media, faking has reached a different level. We have been conditioned since our childhood that we need certain things to be happy and we are all in a rat race to get them and so we become desperate to prove to others and ourselves that we have enough, and we die for others’ approval.
How can we be authentic?
Now that we have seen, how we be inauthentic, what should we do to become authentic? Should we practice self-discipline and try hard? Put great effort? As an old Taoist saying says “When the eye is unobstructed, the result is sight. When the ear is unobstructed, the result is hearing. When the mind is unobstructed the result is truth. When the heart is unobstructed, the result is joy and love.” All we need to do is to remove the obstructions.
The best way to do that is Awareness i.e. to look at your mind objectively as if you are watching a movie or reading a book. When you watch your thought patterns in this way, you will able to study your mind and realise what has been making you inauthentic. Being who you are, being conscious and present are synonymous with being truthful.
The ego can creep up again in this practice also. It will try to make an achievement out of being authentic and congratulate itself to have “made” it. See how the ego can make use of any mind activity, be aware of this trap and get out of that mind pattern. This is the reason you might have come across people who on the pretence of being authentic, act too honest. They don’t care about other’s feelings and social decorum and become eccentric.
There are some other ways being authentic with BPD enhances us.
- It gets easy to move out of the comfort zone and be willing to take risks
- Increase in intelligence as we are not wasting our thoughts on mind clutter
- Not pleasing people and not being hurtful or disrespectful at the same time
- Saying yes and saying no only when we mean it
Getting to be more authentic and independent is a process. Be aware of your mind, stop trying to be perfect. Be more present. As author Brene’ Brown said “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. Being authentic requires new skills and new thoughts. We do not have right actions without right thoughts. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” For people with borderline personality disorder, this is one of the most frightening things imaginable. People with BPD are afraid of being alone or abandoned. They think that if someone sees who they really are they will be abandoned. Their worst fears become a reality when in fact they act out in unbecoming way. Being authentic mean surrounding yourself with people that love you for BEING you. You are perfect; you are a divine child of the universe. You may have some behaviour that do not bring you happiness any more, and you can change behaviours, you do not need to change you. Being authentic with BPD is not hard is just takes a new way of thinking to create a new way of life.