Tips for Living Authentically

Welcome to the first week in Earth Month!  Our theme this week is Authenticity.   I think this is a hot-button topic because so many of us have parts of ourselves that we don’t want anyone to know about!  But when we hide our true selves, we take away possibilities for really fulfilling connection with others.

So this week, we’re going to dive into this a bit: What is so important about authenticity, and what keeps us from living more authentically?

First, let’s talk about why we hide.  I think there are two main reasons people choose to cover up the truth about themselves:

  1. Our true self is precious.  Not everyone needs to know about all the most deep, real, raw aspects of who you are.
  2. We are ashamed of that part of ourselves and we want to pretend it doesn’t exist, so we hide it, even from those we care for most.

The first reason is actually fairly healthy, in my opinion.  As much as we may like to live in a close-knit tribe of only people who are fully capable of loving and supporting us, that’s just not what the world is like these days.  I think it is vitally important to surround yourself with a few, good people who really are capable of loving you.  They may not love all the things you do!  But they will not make fun of who you are.  They will do their best to help you know they value your deepest dreams and have understanding and empathy for you, regardless of your most embarrassing failures.

The second reason is a problem.  It’s what can keep us from allowing the love in from the people who are truly capable of having that connection with us.  Especially if we have been hurt in the past, accepting acceptance from others can be really difficult.  We might not even know what real acceptance looks or feels like.  We might have a shallow understanding, and think it means the other person just doesn’t challenge me or question my actions.

Because of all this, I agree with Dr. Brene Brown that “Authenticity is a practice”.  It’s not easy to choose the right people to open up to, and it’s not easy to fully open up to them either.  But this practice is vital to our vitality.  It is important to our health and wellbeing because when we are fully ourselves, we relax.  We are less stressed as we go through life.  We are less prone to addictions because we have a full and deep connection with a few, very special people.  We feel, ultimately, safe and at peace.

So how do we practice authenticity?  Here are a few simple steps:

  1. The most important step that must happen first is to be real with yourself.  I know it can be easy to be hard on yourself.  But shaming yourself when you do things you’re embarrassed about just pushes you further away from the connection that is your birthright.  You deserve to be accepted for who you are and forgiven for your transgressions.  I can’t prove this scientifically, but I do know that forgiveness has had incredibly healing effects on relationships, families, communities and even nations.  So the first step is to understand that you being loved and accepted is important to the healthy functioning of our entire world.
  2. Be realistic about what the next level of authenticity looks life for you.  Take time to actually set some goals for how you will live more authentically this week, this month and this year.
  3. Be realistic about how much time it will take to cultivate authentic connections with a few trusted people.
  4. Give grace to your loved ones.  They may not always understand your needs at first, so take the time to be clear that you are working on opening up and being more vulnerable to them, and give them time to adjust to this new information you’re sharing.
  5. Hold those close to you to a high standard.  If they make fun of you or shut you out, they aren’t the right person.  Don’t spend too long waiting to see if this person is ready to really love you for who you are.  If you’re ready to be real with people in a new way, make room in your life for others who are ready for that too.
  6. Be real with those who you aren’t real with.  In other words, if you’re not into sharing your deepest dreams with someone who’s prying to know, work on having the confidence to say this to them clearly and kindly.  Find ways to share about yourself in levels without deceiving anyone.

Martial arts practice offers a chance again and again for us to peel away the layers of tension we’ve built up in our bodies because we thought that was the best way to protect ourselves from harm.  This week, we’re working on getting back to the authentic ease that is most natural in our bodies, and finding other ways to protect ourselves and trust in our ability to be safe, besides holding tension.

Techniques of the Week
Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri
Ukemi Forward Break Falls Forward Rolls
Technique 1 Blocks from Kamae Set 1 Strikes from Kamae Set 1
Technique 2 Leaping Down Dodging by Ducking
Technique 3 The first half of Chi no Kata The second half of Chi no Kata

Kasumi Club: (most likely):  Ichi Geki – “One Rage”

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you in the dojo!

~Sensei Nesta

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