Advice Column, Parenting

Authenticity Defined

  • Barbara Harvey
  • Category Advice Column, Parenting

Authentic on dictionary.com is defined as of original organ; genuine. This is the base of authenticity to be genuine, true to who you are. I define it as living your life with what you believe, thank, fell, do, and say is all aligned. I picture a pyramid where what you believe is the base and each subsequent block is stacked on top until what you say is the point and full expression of what you believe.   

Belief 

Every person has a belief system also called a worldview. For many people tis belief system is founded on a faith-tradition, for others it is the customs and traditions of their culture, or homeland, and still for others it is what they have learned in the military or some other organisation. It is this which is the foundation of authenticity. It is the examination of this worldview and its tenants which form everyone’s personal belief system. 

My father used to say if two people agree about everything then one of them is unnecessary. I have always loved this statement because it shows the importance and the value of individuality. It is inevitable that the rules, regulations, and tenants of your belief system will strike you as wrong and you will find yourself disagreeing with that aspect of it. Then you will have t5to think about and decide how you will deal with it. This is where you must decide whether you will cave to the pressure of pushing yourself into the round peg or choose to recognise that though you are gene4rally 4round there are just some places your roundness adds the occasional angle. Allowing yourself to have that angle is what authenticity is all about. feeing true to who you are and what you believe even when it differs from some or most folks who share your worldview. 

Think 

Once you have examined the belief system you hold it is time to begin to train your thoughts. Here is a proverb which says, “As a man thinks, so he becomes”.  This suggests our thoughts not just about our worldview, but ourselves, family, friends are all shaped by how we think. What we say to ourselves about anything and everything shapes who we become and how we engage with others. 

Aligning your thought with our worldview demands that we think about how we think about the world view itself.  Then consider how our thoughts either affirm or negate that view.  

Do 

Did you know feelings follow actions? Therefore, one of the best thing’s adults can do to help picky eaters is to have them help prepare dinner. A child who participates in tearing lettuce, using a pizza cutter to break down broccoli into florets is more likely to eat the food because of their act of preparing it. Therefore, when we believe something, think on it and then move to preform along those same lines we not only get into the habit of putting our beliefs into action we also begin to train our emotions to prefer those things. 

Feel 

Our emotions are very transitory. Which is why we cannot allow ourselves to be ruled by them. We often give our emotions either a positive or negative connotation. However, it is not the actual emotion which is positive or negative but the actions we take based on how we fee. Several years ago, in a parent training I was conducting for a local child development center. We were discussing spanking. I spoke with the parents saying you should never spank when you are angry; if your child deserves a spanking when you are angry then they will still deserve the spanking when you are calmly. Spanking when you are calm will help reinforce the lesson you share with them through an explanation of why they are getting this consequence. A Dad raised his hand. He said, if did not spank when I was angry, I would probably never spank my kids. My response was to ask this question; “How do you know for sure that your child ever really deserved a spanking?”. The whole room was silent for a good five seconds as that question sank in. Let me reemphasise feelings follow actions. How you chose to act can align your feelings with what you believe and think. The choice is present in every situation. 

Say 

What we speak is the crest of the pyramid. There is an old proverb that says we believe what we hear especially if we say it ourselves. Did you know the only way to stop a thought from running through your head is to speak? Several years ago, I read Dr. Phil McGraw’s book Self Matters. One of the strategies who suggested people use to change their inner self-talk was to develop a positive alternate statement to replace the one in your head. So, if for instance you have the self-talk that you are fat. You can change that statement to “I am working to have a fit body”. If every time you catch yourself thinking I am fat, you choose to speak your new statement, eventually the new statement will become what you think. The same is true of becoming authentic. You can change what you think by speaking what you want your thoughts to be instead. Simple but not easy! 

Authenticity is about taking these five components and pulling them into alignment. This in truth is a lifelong pursuit. When you come across something new and it affects you, you must take time to run it through all five filters in order to know how you feel about it and how it matters to you. Authenticity is very simple it is just not very easy! 

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