Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Niceness vs. Authenticity

“When there is nothing about you or anyone else that you are afraid to look at, 
the darkness has no more power over you”.

Paul Ferrini (Everyday Wisdom).

Arwen Barr 2012

How do we address the unease that arises when we feel deep dislike for certain kinds of people? Perhaps we don’t even know them, but we feel anger and hostility coming off them in waves and our usual ways of coping just don’t apply.

Most of us know the discomfort we feel when another person seems aloof, self centered and sometimes mean or vindictive. No matter how friendly we are they remain unaffected. Our niceness just doesn't cut it.

This brings the issue of authenticity clearly into focus. Are we remaining true to ourselves or projecting our own unhealed parts onto the person and acting as if it were true? There is difference. The coldness we experience just might be an aspect of a frozen part of our own psyche.

Deep down we feel cut off from our One-ness with others and ourselves and the feeling of self-betrayal leaves us feeling helpless and angry. Just how did we get off track anyway? One solution is to sit with the unease and notice what it is triggering within us.

As Annie notes: “We welcome back that part … that believes it made a big mistake, is cut off from love, and deserves to be punished.  Our role is to see it, acknowledge it, listen to it, soften towards it, open to joining with it, offer to feel it fully, and embrace it as we would a long-lost best friend.   And in this willingness to surrender resistance, this opening to unconditional love, we invite and patiently await the voice of authenticity to guide our insights and actions.”

Yes, it’s a tall order to admit that our dislikes of others stem from our dislike of aspects of ourselves. We turn the hour-glass over and acknowledge that we must be willing to give up every strategy we think might make us popular, likeable, or socially acceptable and toss niceness out with the rest of the illusions.

It is only by embracing our wholeness that we can feel our True Self beckoning. In sitting with our authenticity we may decide to walk away and be unconcerned about the outcome of the situation. We may feel the need to speak out. Either way, the choice that leaves us feeling authentic is the one that moves away from the turmoil of the ‘shoulds’ and towards a deeper sense of satisfaction and inner peace.


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Path of Deepening Authenticity

 “You come to harmony with others not through conformity, but through authenticity. 
When you have the courage to be yourself, you find the highest truth you are capable of receiving.
That truth is what enables you to reach across the aisle to your brother or sister.

You do not have to agree with others to value them and respect them.
Because you accept your own uniqueness, you can honour the unique path that others take.
Finding the truth in yourself, you recognize it when you see it manifest in others.”

Paul Ferrini (Everyday Wisdom).

The Path of Deepening Authenticity
(Part 2 of 3 of “Why Authenticity?”)

So if being fake brings unease and authenticity brings peace, what fool would keep choosing to fake it?  Apparently most of us most of the time! Whether consciously or unconsciously, we seem to prefer unease or dis-ease, even if we adamantly deny it. Sounds like another layer of self-deception? Certainly confusion.

So much confusion. 

How then do we get real?  How do we distinguish the true from the false, the authentic from the inauthentic?  For me, it is certainly a journey, a deepening process of discernment. 

Surely we all know the excruciating guilt of feeling we have not been true to ourselves. We are often haunted by it. Well, what if all disquiet is at root the pain of self-betrayal? If our truth is oneness, then all attack, all judgement, all rivalry, all resistance, all separation from perceived “other” is an act of self-betrayal because it feels like we are betraying our oneness. And we feel really bad about it even if we don't immediately recognize why we feel bad.

Our first line of defense is typically to blame someone else. If only he or she were different, then I could feel whole again. And then there are those of us whose torment takes the form of scapegoating our own perceived wrong-doing.  Our mind flits around and spots, say, the time I was unkind to so-and-so (substitute the gazillion possible scapegoats and false idols we could adopt). It becomes an “idée-fixe” circling round and round in the mind endlessly. It exhausts us; it reduces us to despair.  The blame, the guilt, the shame seem relentless, and underneath it is the sinking conviction we must be unredeemable.

Even the quest for authenticity, like anything, can be co-opted by ego, and become a tyrant:  “I can't move forward for fear of committing the ultimate sin: being inauthentic!”

What I didn't understand for a long time is that feeling bad is actually, in a funny sort of way, a good thing. Guilt, shame, grief, anxiety are our allies if we understand them to be red flags of our inauthenticity.  What if that is their only significance? What if the pang or stab of guilt is just a scalpel that points out our fakery?  What if the nausea and lightheadedness of anxiety are simply serving notice that we have chosen the separated state of ego-land again?

So we have a great system for discerning between the inauthentic and the authentic.  Unease is the hallmark of faking it.  Peace is the hallmark of authenticity.  Our job is always and only to restore our peace.  Spirit guides with peace.  The absence of peace is the tip-off that we have strayed from the path of authenticity.  What I am learning is that nothing but this is going on.  All the complexity and confusion is simply losing sight of the truth of this.

So what does restoring our peace actually look like?  How do we go about it?

(to be continued)

10 March 2013

Speaking my Truth, study 1

The Path of Deepening Authenticity
(Part 3 of “Why Authenticity?”)

So, what does restoring our peace and living authentically actually look like?  How do we go about it?

First, I would say, it is helpful to be clear on the one and only equation:  all my disquiet boils down, beneath all the projections onto scapegoats, to the belief that I committed the ultimate sin, betrayed my oneness. I have betrayed love and the only fit punishment is to be cut off from love, terminally ostracized, and soldier on alone. Understandably this feels really bad, so bad that I would do just about anything not to feel it or look at it. This, I am learning, is the equation to be kept clear. Nothing else is going on.

Second, from the platform (or altar) of present moment awareness, that is, a palpable resting in the
Here and Now (the only place we experience oneness, true joining, non-separation, Christ awareness, authentic guidance), I welcome the disquiet that it is so tempting to resist (and its apparent source, be it an unfaithful friend, a cheating partner, an illness, financial scarcity, etc.). This does not mean I welcome misforture; it means I welcome back that part of me that believes it made a big mistake, is cut off from love, and deserves to be punished.  My role is to see it, acknowledge it, listen to it, soften towards it,  open to joining with it, offer to feel it fully, and embrace it as I would a long-lost best friend.   And in this willingness to surrender resistance, this opening to unconditional love, I invite and patiently await the voice of authenticity to guide my insights and actions.  

Now this does not mean “anything goes.”  Authentic action or insight means discerning the false from the true, not assuming that because everything is “Love and Light,” I should accept it all. Afterall the “should-word” is a dead give-away of inauthenticity. As Byron Katie so wisely observes, we can't act from a place beyond our own evolution.  That is the journey.  Not to fake it.  Not to hurry past our lessons, our forgiveness opportunities, our grievances. If we are not authentically ready or inclined to understand or do something at a felt level, that's okay, that's precisely what we are being asked to discern:  what is it that truly offers us the juiciness of authenticity, not the sterility of fakery? What truly lights our fire?  What is our passion?  What is nourishing, not wearying?  What is whole-hearted, not faint-hearted?  What is unforced, not efforted?  What is empowering and resonant with authority?

This path, between disquiet and fakery, on one hand, and authenticity and peace, on the other, is, it seems to me, the cutting edge of our healing and growing awareness and trust.

14 March 2013



Monday, March 4, 2013

Why Authenticity?

So why is authenticity significant? What IS authenticity?  And what does practicing authenticity even look like? These are among the questions that we come back to again and again in our Lighttree circle.

For starters, there are clearly some things that authenticity is not.  If there is a “should” anywhere in sight, anywhere in one's decision-making equation, it's a great tip-off that ego, not spirit or inspiration or guidance or true knowing (whatever you want to call it) is in the driver's seat. If you catch any whiff of “I should do something because I owe her, I want to appear to be a good citizen, I'll feel guilty if I don't, etc.,”it's a great opportunity to stop and inquire into what's going on here.

Another great tip-off that inauthenticity is calling the shots is the urge to “people-please,” a variation of that seductive urge to “sweep something under the rug.”  And then there's that big one: the temptation to fake how “enlightened,” aware, loving one is on the “noble”grounds that, well, I should suck back my anger, grief, sadness, and just be loving (as if when we are faking it we can even attune to what love what look like in a particular situation).

And the list grows, I find, as I become more aware of the slyness of ego/fear at masquerading behind the various identities I cling to in order to try and feel more safe.

Another way I can spot inauthenticity or fakeness is that lousy feeling of self-betrayal, whether it expresses as mild unease or a full-blown melt-down, in which I invariably make someone else or something else a scapegoat for my own discontent.  But even if I manage to pretend most of the time and blame something other than myself for my unease, I, like us all, have those moments of clarity when I know it is me who is the problem:  I have not been true or authentic in a particular situation and it is that that is tormenting me.  In A Course in Miracles terms, the reason inauthenticity feels so bad, is that we are “reliving” the excruciating guilt we feel at imagining ourselves as separate from our truth, from our oneness with all that is. Put another way:  if our truth is oneness then, of course, it feels like self-betrayal when we act from what we believe to be a separated place.

And the way we recognize authenticity is the peace it brings.

(to be continued) 


28 February 2013