I’ve recently been asked what I mean by “manifesting yourself as fully and authentically as possible”. It’s a good question, and not as simple as it seems. The person also wanted to understand where they could get more information on the subject. That’s a little more challenging for me.
In the first question, what it mean’s to me is to be the person you were “intended” to be when you were created. By that I don’t mean a higher-power kind of predestination, but that certain aspects of the self are innate simply because of who you are. Of course other aspects of the self are learned, and some are a combination of learning and these intrinsic characteristics.
All of these are a normal and healthy part of a fully-developed personality and will guide you in your life’s direction. But for many of us, our innate characteristics may not have been valued much, and we might have developed in unhealthy and unsupportive environments. Now children are masters at adaptation, especially where survival is concerned, and we can learn very early and very quickly when our vulnerable core selves need protection from the outside world. Far too often children need to develop alternative identities as a defense.
The more oppressive our environment, the more energy we will put into developing an inauthentic identity. Over time, you can completely lose touch with that original self, and come to believe that the protective identity is the true one.
The healthy individual follows an internal compass when making choices, but if you’ve lost sight of who and what you really are, you will invariably choose external metrics, such as those provided by poplar culture, advertising, peers and parents. Such a person is incredibly susceptible of falling into the trap of consumerism, materialism, power and status seeking.
But when one is fully engaged with their internal authentic original world, one is far less likely to be persuaded or seduced by these external substitutes. Why does this matter? Because when you replace an internal locus of self with an external one, the result is always unhappiness, unfulfillment, addiction or addictive behaviours, and cravings that can never be sated. No matter how much you get, you will always want more, because although you’ve been taught to pursue external things, you will never happy because you were taught a lie. By definition, when we live a learned identity we have disowned our true selves, and this is a very painful and empty place to be.
If you are raised in a context where you learn that power and control is what’s important (as was apparently the case of our Prime Minister), you will go through adulthood craving power, and no matter how much you’ll get you will never be satisfied because the need is actually for something very different and much deeper. Most likely, locked away in some dusty old tomb within his heart, there lies a long-neglected self that craves affirmation and compassion. But because he has lost touch with this self, rather than be motivated by gentleness and compassion (which I believe is innate for all of us), he is driven by malice and ruthlessness. Who knows who the real Stephen Harper is, or could have been? But what he has become is all too obvious, and none of what I’ve seen is healthy or admirable. Destructive people are without fail those following learned rather than innate selves.
You can tell authentic people through their joy. While there is no authentic vs inauthentic dichotomy, the more honest a person is regarding who they really are, the less they are disturbed or even motivated by the outside world. They are what they are, regardless what anyone has to say about it. They are confident and yet cautious, reluctant to pass judgment or assume. When the self is the locus for the crucial things in one’s life, needs and desires are greatly diminished. And when these are diminished, the less you are to bugger with the world, and when you do intervene, it is usually for the welfare of others.
Manifesting the self as fully and authentically as possible means going inwards and rediscovering the aspects of self that you may have forgotten in your journey to adulthood. It means your prime goal is to know yourself and be as honest as possible about who you are in your dealings with the world. Invariably our authentic selves are far, far richer, interesting, lovable and beneficial to others than any false construct.
In case it seems like I’m arguing for an absolute dichotomy here, I want to be clear that every one of us is an amalgam of innate and learned qualities. Our experiences always change us, and hopefully we are always learning and growing. Where things become unhealthy is when we are taught that the self is deficient and must be replaced by other’s ideas of who and what we should be. The choice between taking on other’ opinions versus listening to your own quiet inner voice is a constant dance the individual makes with the world.
I was asked where one can research this kind of stuff, and with that I’m a little more at a loss. My philosophy and beliefs I’ve developed over many years of experimenting with my own life, reading a great deal in very divergent subjects, the counselling training I’ve taken, and my observations of other’s struggles. It’s been a long road to get here, and it’s still being developed. I guess all I can recommend is going to the library and perusing the self help section where you can likely find a lot of information on the subject.
As I said earlier the journey to authenticity is a lifelong one and the path lies inwards. It is never easy but always worthwhile.