Authenticity Begins Where Ego Ends
Most of us struggle to be authentic. If we don’t win the battle to be ourselves, our self will never have a chance to be. No one else can take over the privilege and challenge of our self-expression.
I believe the glorious freedom of authenticity lies in realizing our lives are not about us. If we are not the central focus of our lives, the burden of proof—of proving we are worthy—falls off our shoulders. Liberation is ours.
In my youth, I was a people pleaser. The source of the problem was not self-adulation, but a sense of not being good enough to live up to self-imposed ego demands. If others were pleased with me, I felt worthy. Like the chameleon, the people pleaser needs to adapt to the environment, to the surrounding people. They please others at the expense of maintaining the unique identity that is their gift.
People Pleasing Kills Creativity. For an artist, people pleasing is deadly. When I was a pleaser, I couldn’t freely write, pour out my heart, find my voice and let it be heard. To do any of those things was to risk rejection, to have people not pleased with me. Writing this blog entry and posting it would have been impossible.
But I can have the pluck to be me and write freely if I realize I’m just not all that important. Let’s face it, in 60 years I’ll be dead. (I chose that number because old habits die hard. I knew you’d think I was relatively young—which seems to please a lot of people.)
If the point is not to prove myself as a writer, if the point is you, my audience, and what I can contribute to your thought life, or your life in general, if you are my focus, then I’m free. The point is, I am not the point, the be-all, the end-all of writing, or of living. My life is not about me!
As ego diminishes, courage increases. As concern for others becomes larger, my need to be larger than life (larger than I am) becomes smaller.
This insight is nothing new. Long before the internet made it possible to be humiliated instantaneously on the world stage, to be undone in the time it takes to press tweet, post, or send, this idea was floated. Some 2,000 years ago, it was written, “Love casts out fear.” When I reach out to others in love, whether it be on a keyboard or around someone’s dining room table, I am without fear.
Well, maybe not without it. Perhaps just less dominated by it. I’m human, and it’s human to want to be loved. The prayer of St. Francis says it well: “Let me not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.”
In the final analysis, we’re all “perfectly imperfect.” We do our best. And we’re dependent on the grace of God, which, thank God, rains abundantly.
My prayer for you–today, be aware.
God’s Life floods your heart.
It’s always Raining Grace.