Find Your Authentic Self
Knowing Ourselves in a World Full of Misinformation
In 1929 surrealist Rene Magritte famously painted a picture of a pipe with the words This is Not a Pipe written across it in French entitled “The Treachery of Images.” Today, ninety years later, this painting couldn’t be more relevant. On social media there are endless amounts of pictures, videos, and representations of ourselves. We get lost in this treachery of images! Eminem recognized it in 2000 by asking ‘the real slim shady to please stand up’ after mounting frustration with people thinking they knew him only based on representations of himself. If entertainers and paintings can so easily be confused in terms of reality — what about one’s self?
How can we come to know ourselves in a world packed full of representations, misinformation, and “fake news”?
Knowing one’s self takes hard work and careful observation. It’s important to know when we are acting from the ego and when we’re acting from the authentic self. The goal is to live authentically! Excitingly, the ramifications of such are endlessly gratifying.
The authentic self is very solid. It doesn’t care if it wins or loses because it’s good on its own while the ego lives by comparisons. The self is real and isn’t affected when others have more or are different, it doesn’t compare or feel jealous. The self is not trying to convey or maintain an image because it doesn’t feel threatened in any way. The ego, on the other hand, often feels defensive. It projects and protects its own image creating a house of straw which struggles to stand.
Compare these two types of living:
|Living from the Ego generally involves:||Living from the authentic self generally involves:|
|Thoughts, feelings, actions – don’t add up||Congruent thoughts, feelings, and actions|
|Never feeling satisfied||Gratification|
|Living in one’s mind||Participating and experiencing|
So how do I live authentically?
Be aware. You have to watch because the ego will try to sneak in there! Living from the ego is never satisfying because it is perceived and not actual. Being authentic, however, comes from a deep-seated place of knowing and helps us to connect with others, to feel confident, self-assured and to live free of anxiety or depression. The ultimate lesson for the ego is humility and vulnerability because only from this space can the authentic self exist.
Choosing Self over Ego
- The first step is being mindful. When we chose to make this a daily practice we can begin to clearly differentiate between the ego and the self. It’s simple but not easy. If you find yourself feeling frustrated, angry or confused you can start by asking yourself, am I feeling inferior or superior to others? Do I have to be right? Do I feel like I can’t back down or let go? If the answer is yes to any of these questions you are acting from the ego. Correcting yourself and holding yourself accountable will allow you to move more fully into the authentic self.
- Try on your authentic self. Walk away from an argument. Smooth things over with a relative. When you have the urge to defend yourself, pause and don’t. You have nothing to prove because you are good on your own accord.
- Consider what is actual. Just as a painting of a pipe is not actually a pipe, no more is our ego or our self-image actually ourselves. How we perceive others or how others perceive us has no bearing on reality— it is only knowing others and knowing ourselves that is actual. Moving from a place of perceiving to a place of knowing allows us to live more wholeheartedly, genuinely and authentically. Eminem asked the real slim shady to please stand up to make a point of false realities. Are we willing to make reality a point by standing up in ourselves?
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