“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect, he ceases to love.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
Perhaps the smell of cookies or a particular cologne reminds you of your grandparents.
A facial expression or turn of phrase from your child reminds you of a family member. Even a song can put us back in a particular time or place, as soon as we hear the first few notes of the melody.
In researching my book, How To Get The Most Out of Your Next Nervous Breakdown, I learned that our brains are made up of millions of pathways that are created and then reinforced by the activity between our neurons. When you access your memory, those original groups of neurons, formed when the memory was created, are reactivated.
Every time we visit these memories, we are strengthening their neurological connections. Therefore, if we live or interact with others in an inauthentic manner, this, too, creates synaptic bridges. Our day-to-day actions, decisions, and thoughts are constantly creating neuron bridges in our brains, literally writing and rewriting the very infrastructure of our minds on a moment-to-moment basis.
When we live dishonestly, we are reworking the structure of our minds to think dishonestly as well. Looking in the mirror and berating yourself for this flaw or that is teaching your brain to hate your body.
When we lie to our friends or colleagues to portray our persona rather than our organic self, we are constructing pathways in our brain leading us away from our authenticity. We create suffering through this type of behavior by creating an internal dissociation with our truth.
Living with authenticity is something, like all other things worth doing, that takes practice.
First, you can start with simple awareness. Go about living your life in the ways you always have, but take note when you choose to step away from your authenticity.
Becoming familiar and accepting of these areas is personal and should be done with great care. Working with a person you trust, as a sounding board, is one of the most optimal ways of exploring these facets of your own personality. Their outside perspective can offer volumes of insights, as we are incapable of detecting our blind spots on our own after all.
For those of us who don’t have a trusted confidant—reach out. There is a multitude of community resources at your disposal, should you need them. From any phone in the United States, you can call 211 to be connected to social services. A simple internet search will result in a plethora of 800 numbers for support on anything from depression to eating disorders. The world wants to help.
When you live your life authentically, you eventually get to a point where you find comfort in the practice. It may feel awkward and difficult at the start, but the work you put in will most certainly benefit you and those around you in a multitude of ways.
Your judgment of others will melt away and, eventually, so will your judgments of yourself.
As you approach others with empathy, you will find compassion for yourself too. As with children, it isn’t enough to declare that this is your truth. You must live it and model the behavior for others while subconsciously teaching yourself a new way to move through the world.