Living Authentically in a Masked World
Humanity seems to be the only species that never seems pleased with its own. People tend to spend the majority of their life living up to an illusion that no one has ever been able to attain. It is the illusion of perfection. The problem is, that is a course that is marked with failure and pain. Someone came up with the concept that people should be wafting through the fields picking lilies and singing songs of the angels. If you stay on this course you will never measure up. You were not meant to.
There are too many people walking around under condemnation by this illusion. They feel they have failed at the game of life. It is not true. You have not failed. You cannot fail at something that is unattainable. Instead, you should be pleased that you got as far as you did. There are many that check out of this life because they refuse to fail at anything. Lets talk about how you can live authentically with the life you have.
One, you must make the decision to live in the moment. We have too many who are living in the past, with its mistakes, or in the future, with its uncertainties. In order for you to be authentic, you are going to have to take the proverbial bull by the horn and live in the here and now. We all know that we cannot change the past, yet many of us have set up camp there in hopes that we can make sense of it. Then there is the other group that is off to a time that hasn't happened yet. Neither group is useful. Life is happening now.
So, how do you live now? Start by taking off the mask. Admit that life hasn't been what you expected and then forgive yourself and God. Yourself, for chasing an illusion, and God, for blaming Him when it didn't happen as you expected.
Second, Be honest with yourself. Honesty is a lost commodity in the era we live in. People love to lie. The only problem is that you take your lies internally and they judge you. You might say, "I don't lie." Let's take a short quiz.
1. Do you make promises to yourself that you don't keep? (I'm going on a diet.)
2. Do you make promises to others that you don't keep? (I'll be on time.)
3. Do you tell others what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear out of fear of repercussions?
4. If you asked your closest friend if you were an honest person how would they answer?
We lie without thinking about it because that is what we are conditioned to do. We soften them by calling them little white lies. A lie is a lie. Of course, there are the other extremists who lack tact in their honesty. They try to belittle people. Both sides are not good. As you start living authentic you must make honesty your priority. Why? How can you be honest with someone else if you are not honest with yourself? Further, you project it onto other people. By projection, I mean that you put the burden on another person to be what you cannot be. You will find fault with the person who is just a mirror of yourself. Since you do not have the compassion to love the shadow of yourself, you will not have compassion on the other person. Let me give you an example, I have a friend that is a procrastinator to a fault. It used to aggravate me until I saw I was the same way. When I dealt with that aspect in myself her procrastination no longer bothered me.
Jung says, "Man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware."
Third, is what I call the peel and reveal method. You have to go down into the depth of your soul and find the parts of you that you thought were not good enough to exist. This is intense, but the only way I know of to let you know that the world is waiting for the person you were originally created to be. That person has something to offer humanity, not the person that you pretend to be.
Many of you are so miserable that you go home and cry through the night. You are holding on by a thread because you don't know if you can keep this illusion going for much longer. I promise you if you will do the work it will be worth it. I have been where you are, so I know from whence I speak.
How do you peal and reveal? I recommend you get a journal that is for your eyes-only. Write down the five things that you hate about yourself. For example, angry, hostile, pessimistic, etc. Then write down what is good about those aspects. This will take some searching, but I promise you there is a hidden gift. Part of it is just the idea of admitting that you hate something about yourself. When you get rid of the secret you get rid of its hold on you. What is hidden will ultimately be revealed, so why not reveal it on your terms. There is a saying, What you don't own will own you. We all have heard of the guy who is real sweet but sometimes beats up his wife. This is what hiding anger does. It comes out explosively and towards someone else.
Some people recommend that you ask your friends and family to help you with this project. I do not advocate this for most people because some people have lived their lives based on what others will think or have thought of them. It is time for you to come face to face with you. Besides, in the end it really only matters what you think of you. Others can project, but you must accept it. So peal back the mask and see yourself for who you really are.
Fourth, forgiveness is an essential part of living authentically. You have to forgive yourself for lying. This is tough to do especially when you know some do not deserve our forgiveness. The strange thing about forgiveness is that it is not for the other party, but for you. I like to live by the premise of keeping short accounts. What offense is worth your peace? The biggest revelation to me was that there was very little that I was willing to lose my peace for. I want to be better not bitter. Make that your goal as well. Bitterness is a cancer that needs to be cut out or it will destroy you.
Forgiveness does not mean that you have to let the individual have the same relationship with you as before the offense. It does mean that you will not hold it against them. Over time some will earn the privilege of being a friend again, but trust must be earned. For example, If a dog bites you, you may forgive it, but that doesn't mean you want it around.
Finally, authentic living requires letting go. You must let go of the illusions, the past, the lies, and the audacity. The audacity to believe that there is something wrong with everyone, but you. All of it has to go. Deep down you know the truth. You are afraid that somehow you will give away your secret or worse, that someone else will expose you. What is the secret? You are a fraud. You are pretending to be something you are not and denying who you are.
Authentic living is tough. It requires you to go into yourself and pull out the junk, so you can find the precious stone. It is not for the weak or those who are looking for a quick fix. Authentic living is a lifestyle and it takes time to develop.
So don't be afraid of failing or missing it, because the only time you fail is when you have the information yet choose to remain the same.
Delores Williams is a freelance writer living in Oklahoma City. Her writing is taken from different aspects of her life, or those close to her. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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