Are you authentic or fake? Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?
Do you wish you were doing other things to earn a living?
Are there people that you really would rather not hang around with but you get drawn back into their lives when you’d rather not?
Do you find it difficult to say no when you really don’t want to do something but you feel you should because…?
You might have answered yes to some of the above questions or at least feel that you recognise this sentiment and perhaps don’t feel as true to yourself as you’d like to be.
Fake is perhaps a little too strong of a word, inauthentic better describes that feeling inside when we feel one way but feel forced to act another.
Authenticity is described as your willingness to; know yourself, own yourself and be yourself by Professor Stephen Joseph in his excellent book – Authentic.
I have been fascinated by this topic for such a long time that I actually made it the central pillar around why I wrote my book, Back to Brilliant in 2016.
I had observed over the previous 11 years that those that were the healthiest, were often the ones that were best able to deal with the stresses and strains that everyday life would throw their way.
This wasn’t because they were more intelligent, had more money, knew better stress management strategies or had access to coaches and support. They were typically the people that were most comfortable with themselves.
Anxiety didn’t keep them up at night, it didn’t make them take high paying jobs that they hated to keep up with demands they felt they had to meet, for example.
You see, acting inauthentically means you wear a mask. Perhaps only some of the time, but you wear one non the less.
Wearing a mask means you are frightened of unveiling your true self, perhaps for fear or rejection, amongst many other reasons. At times this can be a very affective defence strategy but not all the time.
In fact it can become so draining to wear a mask that it leads to fatigue and other secondary health challenges.
Inauthenticity Equals Stress
It’s commonly accepted that the stress state can be interchangeably called the fight/flight state.
What you rarely hear though is the other two aspects of stress.
There are actually four faces of stress. The fight and flight that we are already familiar with, plus freeze and facade.
In dealing with stress by “facading”, we put on the mask to mitigate the perceived stress in the moment.
This for many is a default mode, completely unconscious.
As I said above though this leads to health issues.
Perhaps said another way makes this more obvious; How much effort does it take to be yourself?
In the back cover of Back to Brilliant it says “If you think this is about food and exercise, you’ve missed the point. What it’s really about is uncovering your most authentic self.”
This email is why!
To facade = stress, stress = lack of balance and a lack of balance = less than optimal health.
Your limbic system is the part of the brain that controls emotional states.
It has a huge impact on the vagus nerve which is one of the major nerves from the head that talks directly to the digestive system.
If you experience digestive trouble, fungal overgrowth (candida), adrenal fatigue (waking up tired), liver challenges, difficulty losing weight and chronic lower back pain, then looking at your level authenticity is an important step.
A step that many fail to connect however.
What is Authenticity Then?
Authenticity is getting to know yourself more deeply and understanding what you will and won’t stand for, what you personal boundaries are and what your core values are.
Starting to own yourself according to Professor Stephen Joseph means to, not let others blind you to your own truths. If you have an instinct about something that is true for you, irrespective of what the “herd” thinks or whether it’s cool or acceptable. If it’s true for you it’s true.
Lastly being yourself, unashamedly doing the things that make you tick, the things that light you up. Being with the people and in the places that are best suited to you.
So, to think that optimal health is about drinking a certain freshly squeezed juice or attending certain exercise classes is potentially leading you up the garden path.
You’ll find lots of people with lots of different answers to what optimal health and wellbeing are and each will argue their way is right.
Yet what we might be missing is that it’s right for them, because being this way they are being authentically themselves.
If you only take one thing away from todays message it’s this; if you are inauthentic you’re activating the fight/flight/freeze/facade stress response and this is not what optimal health is about.
Being authentic will take a big step, you’ll need to embrace being vulnerable. If you can face vulnerability once you can get a taste of what you really stand for and once the door is open…
I had to get vulnerable putting this post out today. I nearly didn’t, be here I am taking my own medicine;-)
My best wishes