The dictionary defines “authentic” as real, genuine, true, trustworthy
The two words that authentic was originally formed from mean “self” and “being”.
HOW DO WE BECOME OUR AUTHENTIC SELVES
In order to be authentic we cannot use other people to define who we are and fulfill us. By recognizing our true value, we have the choice to stop neglecting and mistreating ourselves. To be true to ourselves, we look inside ourselves to find our answers and we turn to our Higher Power. By trusting that we will be taken care of, we begin to heal. At this point, we begin to know a new level of serenity. We discover within ourselves a sense of security and self-worth not bound by anyone else’s opinion of us. As we continue to share at meetings, talk with others in the program and gain insights from our Fourth Step inventory, we cannot help but become more authentic.
“We attempted to use others – our mates, friends and even our children as our sole source of identity, value and well-being and as a way of trying to restore within us the emotional losses from our childhoods.”
Had we repeatedly sought out relationships to boost our egos, to confirm our identities, and to make us feel good about ourselves?
WHAT DOES BEING AUTHENTIC MEAN TO ME?
It means pushing through the fear and saying what’s on my mind, being direct instead of being manipulative. “I come to realize that I really can’t please everyone, and I cannot expect everyone to like me. As long as my behaviors are consistent with my thoughts and feelings, I am “Being authentic means being my self as fully and clearly as possible, knowing and expressing my feelings, handling issues with serenity and grace.”
Not attempting to exert power over other people or wishing another person would change so I could be happy. Being aware of passive attempts to control, such as being a martyr, inducing guilt, manipulating others, or allowing others to mistreat us. Authenticity isn’t about being perfect or not having feelings. It’s about balance and sanity in my relationships and my life. It’s about using the Steps and Traditions as the guiding principles in all my affairs.”
CODEPENDENT RELATIONSHIPS VS AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS
As we continue on our paths of recovery from codependence, we learn to differentiate between unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships and authentic relationships.
Being codependents, sometimes the only way to feel in control of our lives was by controlling others. A safe relationship / friendship encourages enough room for the individuals to take their time to grow slowly, not shame or manipulate each other into doing what only one wants, and the willingness to negotiate differences. A relationship marked by a rigid set of rules, demanded by either party, could signal actively unhealthy dysfunctional behavior.
A healthier relationship is one not shrouded in secrecy or shadows. In ACA recovery we are learning to “come out of hiding” from others shameful behavior and to own and take responsibility for our individual actions. In a healthy relationship there will be no need for secrecy in the relationship or about the relationship. If there is secrecy there could be a hidden agenda.
Our goal to ultimately sustain a healthy relationship includes building a friendship first, keeping a promising relationship moving forward, retaining our identity, boundaries and values and learning to share with another person.
EQUITY IN RELATIONSHIPS
A certain sense of hero worship while growing up may be understandable, but I continued this into adulthood and saw nothing wrong with putting people on pedestals - my parents, my teachers, my boss, my therapist – and trying to get them to be God. I thought if I worked hard enough and accomplished enough, they’d have to love me or at least admire and respect me.
But no amount of external validation was ever enough. Disillusionment and disappointment always set in because these people were only human. My expectations of them were unfair and made sure it was impossible for me to have a real relationship with any of them. I have learned that it is no one else’s job to make me feel good about myself.
THEN… AND NOW
Then, I put on a facade to gain your approval. I believed if you knew the real me you would reject me. Now, I’m willing to show you the real me.
Then, I quickly became enmeshed in your life. The more indispensable I was to you, the more secure I felt. Now, I remain my own person. By practicing healthy boundaries, and expressing my needs directly I avoid being engulfed by you.
Then, I was uncomfortable if you didn’t approve of what I was doing, wearing or saying.
Now, I’m OK with myself, character defects and all. I love and accept myself as I am.
FOR REFLECTION TIME
It is unlikely that any single human relationship will ever meet all of my wants and needs. Accepting this idea brings some peace of mind and a feeling of gratitude
Where did I learn it was safer to pretend to be something other than myself?
Did working the Fourth and Fifth Steps helps me start to identify who I am and who I want to be?
Are their ways I wish I could be more authentically myself in my current friendships?
How do I make it easier for other people in my life to be their authentic selves?
What will it take for me to let myself be me?
What stops me?
Do I want to reveal my whole self in all situations?
What part does presence play in being authentic?
Somewhere between codependence and an independence, that I made into isolation, is a position I call interdependence. This is depending on each other and being dependable. Nurturing, encouraging, loving and respecting each other - without keeping score.
I open myself today to receive love – and when I do, I can love others
What matters most is that I am honest with myself.
I am no longer defined or controlled by anyone else - In This Moment I choose who I am
When I enter into a relationship without fear and insecurity, I am free to be my lovable self.
When I loved myself enough … I became my own authority by listening to the wisdom of my heart. This is how God speaks to me. This is intuition.
In This Moment … I am whole. I am one with the universe. I am a complete being. I reach to connect with my Higher Power. I wish to know my soul’s aspirations. I feel strength from within to heal from within. I know another human being or another’s opinion of me will not complete me. I am whole. I am worthy of love.