This episode is part of a series. If you haven’t listened to the Chasing Greatness introduction, you can find that here along with the other episodes in the series.
Welcome to the first official episode of the Chasing Greatness series. I decided on “authenticity” as the subject for this episode because I feel like it’s the bedrock for what’s to come.
The transcript for my two sections is below:
In a way, the majority of people are politicians. No matter how much we complain about them, we tend to behave the same way. When we’re with our friends, we’re light and funny and unrestrained. When we’re with strangers, we’re guarded, insecure, and composed. When we’re at work we’re behaving in whatever way we think will get the boss to take note. Hell, sometimes we even lie to ourselves.
Of course, being inauthentic is being in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. The words we use and the way we manipulate our personality on any given night is just the tip of the iceberg. The worst of it occurs when we make key decisions in a state of inauthenticity. We do or don’t do things because we’re influenced by culture and expectations. At our worst, we make decisions that are contrary to our own ideas of morality and we don’t know even know why we acted a certain way or made a certain decision.
We spend the majority of our life ticking off other people’s boxes and meeting other people’s needs. We worry about musts, shoulds, and have-tos. Our dreams and core needs get shuffled around and then forgotten altogether.
If I asked you, “what makes you, you?” would you have trouble defining and explaining that? That’s just one symptom.
Somewhere in us all is an authentic self. And the life we live, the experiences we have, and the relationships we make would be much better if that authentic self was able to shine through more often.
So why don’t we let it? Why do we loathe censorship, yet censor the most important thing in life: our true self? Why do we let other people’s opinions and judgements define who we are instead of standing up and defining ourselves?
Instead, we go through life physically present while mentally and emotionally distant. We stay with a job that slowly suffocates our soul for the sake of maintaining some vague idea of security. We stay with unhealthy people for the same reason.
My name is Kevin Geary and you are listening to a series of podcasts titled Chasing Greatness. The subject of today’s episode is authenticity and I’m starting with this subject because I think it overlaps all of the other areas I’m going to be exploring. In essence, it’s the foundation of greatness.
Now let me give you a refresher for why we’re talking about this stuff on a health and fitness podcast: it’s because how we treat ourselves physically is dependent on how we treat ourselves mentally and emotionally. And how we allow ourselves to be treated by others. You cannot successfully create a “lifestyle” of healthy food and healthy exercise when your mental and emotional self is out of order and out of control. It’s impossible.
The mistake people make is thinking that they can change how they eat and how they exercise to become a healthier person. That work on your physical self is noble. But, to be effective, it has to be done alongside work on your mental and emotional self. It’s all tied together and one side can easily sabotage the other.
Chasing Greatness is my attempt at shedding light on the that mental and emotional work. After putting a lot of thought into where to begin, I chose authenticity as the first step. But, in order to be authentic, we have to accept ourselves fully for who we are. We have to be willing to be transparent and vulnerable. And we have to have the courage to communicate our authentic selves in the world.
Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” You know, I think the phrase chasing greatness really embodies that quote. It’s about ending our sleep walking and really beginning to peel back the layers of what’s really going on and most importantly, taking action on what we find.
And I want to make sure that you don’t see authenticity as this broad, unattainable, confusing thing. At the core, authenticity is a collection of choices that we make every day. It’s the choice to show up and to be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen. The friction is in doing that in spite of the pressure to appear to be a certain kind of person, the pressure to adopt a particular mode of living, the pressure to ignore our moral and aesthetic objections in order to have a more comfortable existence.
Some people consciously practice being authentic, and some people don’t, and then there are the rest of us who are authentic on some days and not so authentic on other days. And that’s why I titled this series, “chasing greatness” and not “finding greatness” or “obtaining greatness” because greatness is a messy process and perfection is not attainable.
In fact, I’m going to talk about perfection more in a second. But, simply look at authenticity as choice that you make with each behavior day in and day out because when you see authenticity in that way, you understand the power you have to truly be you.
Symptoms that you’re not being true to your authentic self:
- Constantly compensate for who you are with apologies, hedging words, or clarifications for your actions—like you always owe other people explanations.
- Beat yourself up when you make even the slightest mistake.
- Think about your flaws and feel overwhelming disgust or anger.
- Cling to people who see the best in you and find it hard to maintain those positive feelings when they walk away.
- Tell yourself that you’re being selfish whenever you consider meeting your own needs.
- Repeatedly do self-destructive things, or make choices that show you don’t respect or value yourself.
- Don’t consider your needs a priority.
- Always find a reason to talk yourself out of your dreams as if perhaps you don’t deserve to have them.
Three big themes…
It’s critical that you accept where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, and where you can go from here.
You simply cannot practice authenticity until you look at your life and fully accept everything about it.
Everyone is a perfectionist (blog post) — we try to present the perfect image because we don’t want to appear imperfect, which we subconsciously perceive as inadequate. You will continue to behave in that way until you fully accept yourself.
2. Transparency & Vulnerability
People are generally withdrawn and protected — walled off. They do this as a defense mechanism because they’re unwilling to be transparent and vulnerable because they are unwilling to accept themselves completely and unwilling to feel potential pain.
The problem is that by being guarded, you sabotage every relationship you have. You automatically disconnect from a core human need.
If you don’t have fulfilled relationships, it’s no wonder you turn to food for comfort.
3. Authentic Communication
Not allowing fear to manipulate our words.
Fear of rejection, fear of disapproval, fear of pain.
Speaking the truth, even in the toughest situations with the harshest consequences.
And speaking up when fear demands that we stay silent.
- Take a long, hard, legitimate look at where you came from, where you are, and where you want to go. Fully accept those truths.
- Put yourself at the center of your decision-making (this is probably one of the hardest action steps for some of you and we’ll talk more about this in a future part of this series, tentatively called, emotional powerlessness). Like I said, there’s going to be a lot of overlap in these series. And that’s okay because it helps us put the puzzle pieces together more clearly.
- Communicate honestly and completely, especially with regard to how you feel. Don’t leave out any degree of emotion. Don’t tell others what you think they want to hear. Don’t hide. Don’t apologize for telling the truth and for being authentic. In simple terms, aim to be real instead of aiming to be liked.
- Use mindfulness daily to be open, transparent, and vulnerable. Constantly ask yourself if you’re in a vulnerable state or a guarded state. And if you find yourself in a guarded state, explore why. What are you afraid of in that moment?
- Ignore the risk of being vulnerable because the tragedy of not being yourself is an exponentially greater risk that you’re juggling right now.
Now, I want to get your participation a little bit. I want you to go to rebootedbody.com/greatness/ and click on Authenticity and in the comments section, tell me what was going through your mind as you listened to this episode and what you plan on doing differently.
By the way, that’s where all of the episodes in this series will be found. Again, rebootedbody.com/greatness/
Thank you so much for joining me today and for being a part of The Rebooted Body project and tribe. If you found this episode to be useful, the best thing you can do is spread the word by sending it to someone who you think would benefit from it.
Have a fabulous weekend, I’ll see you next Friday.
- The Adjustment Bureau
- Dispatch: Con Man
- Owen Williams: Self-Sabotage
- Larry Berkelhammer: Authenticity and Self-Expression
- Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Join the discussion for this episode below.