We are master storytellers! In fact, our brain is designed to weave stories. “We develop a sense of ourselves through repetitive internal thoughts, internally processed experiences, and a left brain that loves to fill in gaps of fact with a narrative to make sense of who we are” (New Beliefs New Brain, Lisa Wimberger).
Our ability to spin a convincing narrative, strengthening it by supporting evidence is remarkable. After all, that makes us unique in our expression, that’s how we learn and grow. Alas, not every part of our narrative is in favor of our highest expression, so sometimes it is worthwhile to investigate one of the threads, as long as we do it with curiosity and self-compassion.
Recently I’ve been following a concept of “authenticity” and the meaning I assign to it. I’ve been priding myself that “authenticity” is one of my main values. I always strive to be true to myself, to be vulnerable and honest with myself. That’s what authenticity represents to me. Something close to integrity. It all sounds rather good, but for some reason it remains an elusive concept and provides a rather unstable foundation.
The Authenticity Trap
During my workshops with Jonathan Bender, a public speaking coach, I came across a term “authenticity trap.” He implies that “being true to ourselves” can mean different things. Being “true to myself” might support me being stuck in the comfort zone; being true to a small version of self, supporting my old beliefs and behavior patterns that might not serve me. It is important to realize that I’m being loyal to the story I’ve been telling myself on play-repeat mode, not unlike preferring my old favorite sweater that is thoroughly worn-out. I’m wearing it today, feeling authentically “me” and feeling quite comfortable in it. After all, brain loves predictability and derives a sense of control from it. Changing a pattern is always uncomfortable, as a new garment requires time to make it your own.
A concept of “authenticity” derived from the meta self, or the witnessing self, is benevolent. Alas, we might fall into a trap of linking it to our ego, using it as a permission for avoidance. As Jonathan Bender suggests, perhaps replacing the idea of “authenticity” with PRESENCE is a better idea altogether? When one is fully present one can’t be anything else but authentic! It seems I’ve been putting the cart before the horse all along.
“Your brain is the most important organ in your body, and what happens in it determines what you think and feel, say and do. Many studies show that your experiences are continually changing your brain one way or another.” (Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson). Today I’m thinking of authenticity as a byproduct of presence. All there to strive for is the awareness of the present moment.
Vija is an international educator with meditation experience of over 20 years. Born in Latvia, Vija has lived and worked in the Netherlands, UK, Thailand, India, Colorado and currently lives in Seattle, WA. She speaks four languages fluently and one day hopes to master one more. She is a certified Neurosculpting® Facilitator & Tier 2 Fellow, and has a B.A. in Social Work and a B.A. in Communication. She studied at the University of Leeds, UK, School of Social Work in Latvia, University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and the Academy of Film and TV in Delhi. Vija has practiced meditation in varying forms since her late teens and undergone Buddhist study with Sakyong Mipham at the Shambhala Buddhist Center. She is also a 200 hour certified Kids Yoga instructor, a visual artist and a published author. Vija came to her first Neurosculpting® class with Lisa Wimberger in 2011 when she was faced with unaddressed PTSD and ADD patterns. Neurosculpting® has helped Vija to create a more integrated path in her professional and personal life. Always a seeker, Vija has been pursuing knowledge of human condition and self-discovery, especially after having a spontaneous out-of-body experience and multiple dream visions. A single parent and wellness entrepreneur, she walks her talk and applies self-awareness skills daily. She is in constant awe of unlimited human potential and is honored to be able to share powerful Neurosculpting® tools in the Pacific Northwest and globally. She works with private clients and groups, improving her clients’ journey through life. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.vijarogozina.com