Authenticity has two parts. One is the willingness to show up as yourself and to be brave and vulnerable but the second part (the part that seems to be practiced less) is knowing when to share your full story and when not to. Authenticity without boundaries isn't authenticity, it's oversharing.
In the 2010's many people are making the choice to eat in an intentional way. The authentic person knows it feels better for them to eat gluten-free and eats that way- the end. The less authentic person, the one whose ego identifies with being a gluten-free activist, doesn't say "I had pizza for lunch" they say "I had a gluten-free pizza for lunch" and it's usually followed by a lament that eating this way is soo time consuming and difficult.
I took a course many years ago called "Radical Authenticity". The week was designed to push people to identify their beliefs, own them, and live a life empowered by them. I remember one exercise where participants walked in a circle until the facilitator said to find a partner. At this time you were to gaze into the partners eyes for a period of about one minute then starting with the taller partner, you whispered an authentic truth about yourself into the ear of your partner and they did the same in return. Over the course of the session we shared with about 10 different people and at least eight of these people shared random facts about their sex lives or admitted that they picked their nose. TMI!!! Sharing a fear or something you feel vulnerable about makes it less powerful over you but random sharing of this type without a filter or purpose beyond shock value wasn't useful other than as a tool to remind me of intention. So how does one discern between times to fully disclose and times to hold back?
It comes down to two things for me.
2. What is my purpose this communication?
Sometimes we share sensitive information as a way to bond more closely with a friend. Sometimes it's to establish our role as an expert. If I'm a financial adviser with anxiety it doesn't serve me to tell my client "I am scared shitless that I might be in over my head here" if I still want a client tomorrow. I could share this with a mentor who can help me instead.
One question that comes up with many people I work with is "Is omission the same as dishonesty?" If you use the two questions above it helps to clarify. Of course omission can be dishonest if you are keeping an affair from your husband. But if a friend gets a haircut that you hate and you don't volunteer that you hate it are you dishonest? Did they ask your opinion? What was their purpose in asking?
Social media allows us to take our authenticity to a whole new level and share the intimate details of our lives with the world. I use the same advice I give my kids as a guideline. Before posting ask yourself:
I am sharing this article despite the fact that many would accuse me of over-sharing. I am not trying to force happiness on anyone, just shining my light so brightly that no one is left in the shadow.
Like what you've read? I would love it if you would comment or reply or forward this to a friend. Happiness only increases when you share it.