The psychologist Carl Rogers
believed that at the root of all the problems people presented as the reason for seeking counselling was just one. They are desperate to become their real selves, to be allowed to drop the mask they present to the world or feel the world demands of them.
Beneath all the zealous pursuits of our lives—our desire for love, happiness, wealth, power, success and status lies a deep unfulfilled longing. Beneath all the myriad hopes and wishes that consume us and are often left partially unsatisfied, lies a more fundamental and ultimately more rewarding search—the quest for our authentic nature.
What is that authentic nature? How can we define authenticity? The truth is that it is beyond definition. There can be no general, all embracing account of what it means to live an authentic life since that can only be decided in and through your experience of life itself. Authenticity is uniquely personal and experiential.
Authenticity is measured not in terms of an objective inventory but in your way of “being what and who you are.” This echoes the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's
slogan that “existence precedes essence”
—you come to be authentic in the way you live your life.
At the core of our need to be authentic is a deeper and more fundamental desire to be the best we can possibly be. This is an urge to reach beyond the life we live to one where our full potential is realized—to where meaning, purpose, success and happiness all coalesce into one exciting, challenging, rewarding and utterly satisfying whole—where we are at peace with ourselves and the world.
called this the search for “individuation” which Carl Rogers
and Abraham Maslow
described as “self-actualization”or “self-realization”—an underlying and irresistible urge toward the fulfilment of our inherent and highest potential. Maslow defined self-realization as “the impulse to convert oneself into what one is capable of being.”
Whatever that may be Carl Rogers
is clear on what it is not. It is “not a façade of conformity to others, not a cynical denial of all feeling, nor a front of intellectual rationality, but a living, breathing, feeling, fluctuating process.”
This is a continuous process of emotional and mental growth, learning, maturing and change—an innate capacity for coming into being that can only be realized by our own action. It involves awakening the latent potential and power in our psyche.
Being You means taking the path to the summit of your highest potential. This is a challenging prospect for many of us because it implies that we must step out of the crowd and instead of conforming to what the crowd thinks and believes, we discover our own unique thoughts and beliefs.
This is a process that has been going on all your life. It’s the nonconscious process of personal development that characterizes every person. The difference is that we now put it up front as a distinct process—we transform it from a nonconscious to a conscious activity. This shift brings fundamental features of your nature and character into the light of day and requires you to make conscious choices about yourself that you may have never even imagined, let alone considered.
The process of shaping your authentic nature puts your identity as a person—your personhood—and your personality under the spotlight. The thoughts, emotions and behavior that make up your personality come into clear focus. You gain insight into the very core of your being. This is both daunting and exciting, and it is not for the fainthearted.
The result will be a level of understanding of what it means to be your ‘authentic self’ that far surpasses anything you thought possible. In turn this will make it easier—and imperative—to live according to that image. Being You
—becoming your authentic self—is the journey home to the inner core of your nature.