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A Word (or two) About Authenticity

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Surely you have heard phrases such as "your authentic self", or "authentic relating", or have even just had the desire to be authentic (which usually means unrestrained).

These ways of looking at authenticity seem to indicate that the way I am, or the way I am acting in some moment in my life, may not be authentic.

What if I was to say that all the ways I show up, whether I have a story about my actions, responses, etc, being good or bad, is me being authentically me.

Or to say it another way, using parts terminology, the way one of our parts shows up in any moment is authentically part of the way we are... and therefore authentically part of the whole of me.

For example, if I feel my ability to engage socially is being inhibited by some inner fear or restraint, my silence or inaction is actually me being authentic in the moment, even though I'm being governed by a part I'm not fond of. It is, however, a gifted and loving part of me that is in control, trying to keep me safe from negative judgement. Yes, it would be great if I didn't have that protector governing me (driving my bus) in ways that make me feel less complete, but unless I recognize its "authentic role" in my whole, my scared parts won't ever have more voice or choice.

In fact, all of our protector parts are authentically working/acting to keep my authentic vulnerable parts safely free of judgement/unworthiness.

From this perspective we are all acting authentically in the moment. What we call "authentic relating" is actually creating and being in a "container" where our more vulnerable and scared parts can have voice or action or emotion without being governed by our protectors.

What I think we are referring to when we describe our authentic self is what we would call our Core Soul or Core Knowing parts. These are the ungoverned, unfiltered characteristics that we are born with (our emotional/physical DNA), including an inner knowing that happiness comes from within, not without. But without proper co-regulation, these "authentic" characteristics become fractured and sometimes exiled from the moment we learn we have to modify our behaviour for acceptance. And the ways we modify our behaviours are also absolutely authentic and necessary responses to an unsafe environment.

Our Core Soul part does not go away, but it does have to step behind a team of authentic protectors, that skillfully arise from some of our core characteristics.

For me, it is freeing to know that at any moment I am acting authentically. That I don't have to feel bad that I am not somehow being my "authentic self". Rather, my path forward is to honour all the ways my parts show us as authentic and become aware of how they all contribute to my safety. While at the same time learning to welcome all my parts back into my inner circle (or team), so they can communicate with each other, hold each other, and act cooperatively, with the help of other people in my community to hold and appreciate them all.


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