You can get a very clear view of yourself through the helpful feedback of those who are close to you. Therefore, the hopes and vision you cherish for the growth of your authentic personality will be worked over and refined in the conscious and nonconscious interchange with your partner and theirs with you. But that vision must always be on your own terms, not theirs.
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- 7 Authentic Qualities (7)
- Abundance (3)
- Acceptance (10)
- Action (11)
- Adaptability (6)
- Adaptive Freedom Concepts (2)
- Alignment (6)
- Animation (4)
- Appreciation (4)
- Authenticity (15)
- Awareness (12)
- Behavior (2)
- Change (1)
- Compassion (1)
- Competence (1)
- Connection (3)
- Emotions (1)
- Excellence (1)
- Freedom (4)
- Holism (2)
- Holistic Nature (1)
- Human Condition (3)
- Meaning (1)
- Mind (3)
- Natural You (6)
- Nonconscious (3)
- Purpose (1)
- Reality (1)
- Relationships (2)
- Spirituality (2)
- Success (1)
- Values (3)
- Vision (2)
My rating and Review at Goodreads:4 of 5 stars
This is a sharp, witty, highly intelligent and really quite brilliant book. Foley reminds us that our yearning for authenticity is not found only in novelty—a new place, a new lover, a new job: “More effective is to see the familiar with new eyes . . . to smash the crust of habit and see life anew.” He exhorts us to “begin a new job in your current post, enjoy a holiday where you actually live, and most thrillingly, plunge into a tumultuous affair with your own spouse.” (139)
The book is full of nuggets of learned information and wonderful quotes such as “understanding is itself transformation” (24). It is packed with impressive research into psychology and a review of the broad sweep of philosophy from the Stoics to Rousseau and much in between and beyond.
The style is easy flowing, lucid and full of distilled and simple but profound wisdom. Ideal for scholars, searchers and interested readers. This will become a classic!
If you are stressed out, lacking direction, unable to discern any meaning and finding it hard even to focus on the possibility of an ‘authentic you’ then start by establishing some stability—a stable self that you can rely upon. This may be as simple as setting up a daily routine and trying hard to stick to it. It may mean looking at your job and seeing if it is satisfying and making some plans to upskill or reskill so you at least have the chance to make a change. It might certainly mean being present with and for those you are close to, perhaps even live with. Seek help. Look for mentors, counsellors, pastors that can give you support, encouragement and reflect the real you that you are unable to be – just now.
One of the toughest places to remain authentic is at work. We often disappear behind our mask or don the role allocated to us. Yet so long as we are true to the core elements of our authentic nature: being honest, acting honorably, staying true to our core values, showing compassion then we can still carry out our role and be truly authentic. Life is never perfect. We find our authentic nature in the place we are at - not the dream-place beyond the horizon.
Women have a harder job than men in asserting their independence and being more authentic. This is especially so in non-Western and more traditional societies. This excerpt from an Indian woman writer Prya Florence Shah reflects the situation in her country - but there is a message here for every woman. The Curse of the Nice Girl
When she was 13 she took her fathers yacht and sailed it single handed from Holland to England encountering bad weather but arriving safely. Her reward was to be arrested by the British police. When she announced that she would sail around the world on her own the Dutch authorities made her a ward of the State and forbade her to sail. Her mother was vehemently against the plan but her father, at first reluctant, eventually supported her. With the help of a friendly lawyer they beat the Dutch authorities and Laura completed her 518 day solo voyage sound the world (the youngest person ever at 16) when she landed at the Caribbean island of St Maarten in January 2012.
This remarkable story told in The Sunday Times highlights the courage and tenacity required in Being You – becoming and remaining truly authentic. Laura’s journey told with elegant simplicity on her blog is summed up in her own words: “I did it just for myself.”
Her experience neatly follows the structure of the 7 Pillars of the Freedom Code – the implementation path of Adaptive Freedom. Laura was acutely attentive and aware of her needs and what she wanted to achieve (1. Perceptive Awareness). This included conscious attention while on board. She wrote: “In tricky moments, such as stormy weather, I just focus on what needs to be done to control the situation, step by step.”
She was clearly aligned in mind and body with the elemental forces that contrived to bring her dream to reality (2. Alignment with Universal Energy). To fulfil your potential requires more than just dreaming: it must be backed up with concrete plans, detailed preparation and action (3. Pursue Purposive Action).
Though alone she remained in constant contact with her family, friends and supporters, and felt deeply connected to them despite the distance. She was also intimately connected with the sun, wind and sea and all the creatures around her – not to mention her closest companion, her boat ‘Guppy’ (4. Connect and Communicate).
Laura has a strong acceptance of her self, her life and her moment in that life. However, she has not so far been able to accept the way she was treated by Dutch officialdom though she has been reconciled again with her mother (5. Acceptance). To be a solo circumnavigator on a small yacht requires a ready willingness to adapt to change at every opportunity (6. Adaptability) and her blog is full of the delight she found in every day at sea—even doing her school work (7. Animation and Appreciation). She wrote “I look back with joy at the adventures of the past year.
Read Laura’s Blog
The quality of empathy or compassion—being able to feel what others are experiencing and to resonate with them—is an important factor in authentic living. When you meet someone filled with joy you also experience joy, and the same can apply to feeling the distress of others. You are able to distinguish pity from true compassion. Pity can be a helpful and healing emotion but it’s not the same as compassion and is not a substitute for it. People mostly need empathetic understanding rather than pity. Acceptance and tolerance are integral to your life. You make a point of practicing self-acceptance and forgiveness of yourself and others.
Each of the 7 Qualities of Authenticity is linked to one of the 7 Pillars of the Freedom Code. Compassion is linked to the 5th Pillar: Acceptance.
Yet you exercise personal freedom for your own benefit and also, because of our total interrelatedness, for the benefit of the community; and you live autonomously as an interdependent member of that community.
Excessive individualism, isolationism and resistance to just laws designed for the common good appear to some as consistent with personal freedom and autonomy but they are instead the product of negative and rigid thinking. An undue focus on not being tied down or dependent on others avoids the truth that we are both individuals and social beings living in the society of others. We are autonomous and interdependent and co-exist in a community which is a part of the wider universal community of humankind. This implies however that the community allows the individual the freedom to think freely, know clearly and grow completely.
Your freedom is assured by your contact with the world rather than threatened by it. Your sense of smell, sight, touch, hearing or taste is your ‘contact boundary’ with the world, not your protective shield against it. When you think of yourself as isolated and alone you cease to be a sensing, alive and free person.
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.
Carl Jung 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.
The ideal you is shaped and ultimately realized in the world but formed in your imagination. Your imagination is the ultimate source of your authentic nature. It is the expression of absolutely everything you wish to be.
The focus on what you aspire to be is more an activity rather than an end in itself. You are not trying to capture a pure, original or pristine identity that exists separately from the stream of your experience—that lies hidden waiting to be discovered.
The development of an aspirational identity in this context is what the philosopher Richard Moran has called ‘self-constitution.’ He believes that we are uniquely able to constitute ourselves. Therefore, you don’t search for your authentic self, it exists right here right now. You don’t discover your authentic self, you shape your authentic self in a way that gives meaning to the life you lead.
The philosopher George Herbert Palmer described the process by using the analogy of an elm tree. When the seed of an elm begins to sprout, it is adapted not merely to the next stage, but to every stage beyond that. The whole elm is already predicted in its genetic make-up when its seed is planted in the ground. For it to become an elm it must have a helpful environment, but still a certain plan of movement “elmwards” is already contained in the seed.
But what if the seed already knew the shape and size of elm it had the potential to become? Every time it sucked in moisture or basked in sunshine it would be gently adapting this nourishment to the fulfillment of its ultimate goal. It might be asking itself for example, whether the strength gained from the environment would be better sent to the left branch or the right.
Such an elm would be entirely different to its fellow elms in the forest. Because if it could envisage what it might look like as it grew to maturity it wouldn’t be an elm but a human person. Unlike the elm we are entrusted with our own growth. The basic plan is in our genes but the environment we inhabit and the choices we make ultimately decide what we become.
Your authentic or aspirational identity is what you hope to make of yourself, the type of person you want to become—the ideal you. It is a vision of the highest potential that you aspire to fulfil in your life—the true, free and authentic person you wish to become.