But I damn-near guarantee you’d cry like a dehydrated infant upon discovering that I lied to you if we met online and this image was posted on my profile.
This post is about 1) what happens to your relationships when you don’t keep it real, 2) how to embrace authenticity, and 3) how to get an ass EXACTLY like this photo.
Just kidding .
One of the hardest lessons to convey to psychotherapy clients is the importance of the authentic self. And sadly, the absence of an authentic existence means you’re living an anxious and unsatisfied one.
Part of the problem is that authenticity is practically relegated to psychobabble.
Authenticity seems to be the value of the moment, rolling off the tongues of politicians, celebrities, Web gurus, college admissions advisers, reality television stars. In recent months it’s been cited by the likes of Katie Couric; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, even Pope Benedict XVI, says the New York Times.
Definition of Authentic: not false or copied; genuine; real.
Let’s say you’re a man visiting an online dating website and you come across a woman of interest. Her photo looks good, and she’s within your age range. According to her profile, she’s educated, holds a respectable job, and comes from a loving family. Additionally, she shares many of your hobbies.
You’ll probably hit her up, right?
But there’s just one problem. Jane Doe constructed this reality to hide her inner and outer flaws. She’s afraid to reveal the truth because you might presume she’s unstable due to her family’s history of addiction, or reject her because she’s 35 and outside your desired age range of 27-34.
And the profile picture, well, it’s about eight years old. And a few jean sizes ago. Jane rationalizes that if you just spend time together, you’ll grow to accept her for who she really is.
Compounding matters is her assumption that her baggage is transparent. Meaning even if she doesn’t disclose the details of her family life over that first glass of Italian Primativo, she believes you can see right through her.
Kind of like how I know that some of you licked the computer screen a minute ago…;).
The problem with authenticity
~We’re afraid of the truth.
~We like our human behavior simple.
~It’s easier to pretty something up with a lie than expend the mental energy to confront reality.
~We don’t like to feel embarrassed.
(And not that you asked, but don’t think I didn’t feel like a total ass when I asked Jackie Kiwata, my friend and longtime kickboxing instructor to use her butt picture for this blog post).
~We like stories with happy endings: “I’m definitely playing a role,” hip-hop star Nicki Minaj explained in BlackBook magazine. “They don’t pay to see me roll out of bed with crust in my eyes, and say, ‘Hey guys, this is me, authentic.’ They pay for a show.”
~Technology means we’re accustomed to the ‘edited’ truth behind social media and reality television.
~You can’t borrow authenticity anymore than you can cheat time, re-create your childhood, or surgically implant a calmer central nervous system.
~The opposite of authentic is a hypocrite.
And nobody likes a hypocrite, right?
7 Ways to embrace authenticity
1). Make a list of what you want to change.
2). Circle the things you control, like lying or using work as an excuse to avoid relationships.
3). If stuck, talk to a friend or family member. If you’re not ready to verbalize your shortcomings, imagine what this person would identify as your psychological issues.
4). Gather your list, take a deep breath and sit with your unattractive traits. Remind yourself that you’ve spent a considerable amount of emotional energy avoiding and suppressing change, rather than doing something about your unhappiness.
5). Do nothing.
6). Locate your calendar and schedule a time tomorrow to pick up where you left off. Trust me, it’s more meaningful when you’ve had time to digest and sleep on your limitations. Also, confronting denial takes a lot of courage. You need this time to mindfully reflect.
7). Come up with an action plan.
For example: Problem: My partner acts passive-aggressively and I feel ashamed that I’m not strong enough to confront this truth. It’s easier to get angry and pick a fight.
a) I accept reality (after all, there’s a big difference between, Jack prepared a very authentic Mexican meal, and I’ve been living a lie for the past seven years of marriage).
b) I won’t allow my partner to manipulate me regarding his/her version of the truth. I’ll stick to my guns about why I’m not ready to move in together.
c) I will stand up for myself when my partner discusses my weight. I’m dieting because I want to feel healthier, and not because I fear losing sexual points.
d) I will not react in a passive-aggressive manner. Rather than “forget” to call the contractor about the fence, I’ll tell my partner what’s on my mind.
e) I’ll stop explaining myself. If I don’t want a dog, I’ll say so and refuse to engage in arguments and backtracking when s/he makes me feel guilty. <–Oops! Reframe: Nobody can make me do anything. If I feel guilty, it’s my issue and I’m responsible for this.
f) I’ll think creatively and not rely on conformity, routine and habit. I’ll take the unpopular stance, even if this alienates friends and family.
f) I’m throwing guilt to the curb. I’m a flawed person, just like the next guy/gal. I am good enough.
Moral of the story: The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. ~Anna Quindlen
½-Ass Moral of this story: If you don’t have a butt that bullets could bounce off, don’t pretend you do .