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When we’re not being authentic, there’s a reason.

When we’re not being authentic, there’s a reason.

I’ve noticed people throw around the concept of authenticity a lot. We all seem to want others to be this, criticize them when they aren’t and even use this ideal as an excuse for how we behave sometimes. For example, when we choose to be rude or demeaning toward someone else, we can excuse it as authentic behavior. It’s all part of being human. 

Yet being authentic is really about being real and in reality. What this means is NOT in delusion. I’m not saying delusion is awful or wrong either. It is a state of mind that can help us temper difficult experiences for the moment and delay them until we can process them adequately. So it serves a purpose and actually helps us manage and deal with real life in our own time. So there’s a time and place for delusion too. 

“Reality helps us to be authentic. Delusion helps us avoid pain. How can we know when we’re in delusion or in reality?

 

Reality helps us to be authentic. Delusion helps us avoid pain. How can we know when we’re in delusion or in reality? Very simply, you will know when you or someone else are in a delusion when they are striving too much. Specifically, when they are striving for approval, status, power or attention too much. This tips you off that their ego is hooked and fixated on finding relief of some sort. Relief from the pain that their ego is hurt and they are trying to get others to resolve it for them. And this won’t work, because others can’t answer the true questions (which are existential) and can only be answered inside us. In our own sense of identity. In our own peace with ourselves. 

If we can, being in reality as often as we can, will help us be authentic. When we are being authentic, we exude a calm, strong presence with others. And we can’t be that way all the time. Our little (and big) fears eek out sometimes. Our responsibility then, is to reflect on our fears and what we are afraid of, then take responsibility as quickly as possible. Apologize to the other person and own our stuff.  

Being in reality takes practice and awakeness. It requires looking square into the core of our deepest identity questions. To answer them within. To keep learning about them. Growing inner strength so that next time we don’t react and wreak havoc in our interactions with others. 

So when you think someone on your team isn’t being authentic, look beneath the surface and help them. Ask them what they are afraid of? Help them express it and see that the fear may be a delusion. Or it may be real, but they can do something about it. Fears often present in distorted thinking patterns like overgeneralization, assumptions, personalizing, extremes, and emotional reasoning. None of these patterns solve the true issue that lies inside. So to help someone when they’re in stress by helping them process the fears, can help them find their authenticity again. We’re essentially helping them see the delusional bubble they are trying to put around themselves to protect a hurt ego. We have a choice as leaders to be the safe zone where we can help them see themselves. Help them see that the thoughts generated by fear are probably not true. Not reality. By processing the thoughts with you, they can come back to their real selves. And be authentic. 

Leadership is an art. And we have to be able to let ourselves be helped by our teams too. When we can allow ourselves to be real too, we can demonstrate that we feel vulnerable sometimes too. We make mistakes and think in distorted ways. Cause dissonance and drama. But we have to be good at catching ourselves too and making it right. Only then are we an example of being in reality. Being human. 

When I catch myself striving, it’s time to stop and reflect. Then come back to my authentic self.