How authentic are you really being? This blog uncovers the surprising links between authenticity and health. Find My Energy

I’ve been carrying out a little experiment here, on my blog. And it paves the way for an interesting question. How authentic are you, really?

If you follow me regularly, you might be aware of my experiment. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog about the importance of getting your daily dose of vitamin L (click here to read it). I promised that I had more to share on the topic, then “life happened” and I didn’t make the time to write the follow-up post. So, I got to thinking, how much easier would it be if I used AI to write my blog posts?

After all, that is what a lot of marketing companies are advocating, in order to save time and generate more content. So, I put a couple of prompts into ChatGPT, and it gave me the blog post entitled Self-Love and Wholeness: a Journey Within.

Now, I don’t know what you think, but from my perspective, the AI option lacks authenticity (you might need to read that blog to see what I mean). So, that then led me down a huge rabbit hole about being authentic and its links to our physical and mental health. (Bet you didn’t see that connection coming?!)

How authentic are you…really?

In order to answer that question, you need to know what authenticity is. I would summarise it as:

  • the ability to know who you are, what you like and dislike
  • willingness to share that openly in all its different aspects. So, that means being willing to be vulnerable as well as willing to be strong

From there, follows the capacity to protect and defend yourself. When you know what you need, you can determine whether or not those needs are being met. You are willing and able to ask others to support you, and also to step away from anyone or anything that damages you.

Is this sounding rather like the qualities I spoke about in the self-love blog? That is because authenticity is closely linked to love. In order to be authentic, you need to be willing to accept all sides of yourself. The good, the bad and the ugly.

So, with that framework in mind, let me invite you to reflect: how authentic are you really?

The Kolorlan System: a blueprint for wholeness and metamorphosis

The suprising links between authenticity and health

If you arrived at the Find My Energy website because you were seeking answers to the issue of burnout or chronic fatigue, then you may be wondering why I’m talking about authenticity.

Well, it turns out, your ability to authentically connect to yourself and protect your boundaries, is deeply rooted in how your health takes shape. And I say all of this from a space of great compassion. Don’t forget, I’ve been there. I spent twenty years living with chronic fatigue and failing to connect with myself because it was simply too painful. I have also navigated the choppy waters of self-blame when I recognised what I had been doing (or not doing).

So, I invite you to take a deep breath and find as much self-compassion as you can if you see yourself in what I am about to share. I need you to know that you haven’t done anything “wrong” and that you can find acceptance and peace with all of who you are.

Patterns that stem from lack of authenticity

When I was working with the Optimum Health Clinic to support my CFS recovery, we worked a lot with some models of behavioural patterns that commonly link into fatigue. We talked about “achiever types” who were driven to push beyond their energy reserves in order to get things done. (Yes, that was me… I mean, on what planet is it a “good idea” to stay up all night working in the office? Yet, that was what I did in order to “prove” that I was good enough to work for my employer).

We also have the “helper types” who derive pleasure from helping and supporting others. That’s a good thing, though, isn’t it? Yes, as long as you’re not helping others at the expense of yourself… Remember that old saying about putting your own oxygen mask on first?!

The point is, none of these patterns are “bad”. They just end up being taken to an extreme that ignores the authentic needs of you. The authentic “you” does require a decent night’s sleep. You also need other people to show you love, respect, care.

Unless you are able to define and state your authentic needs, how are they going to be met? And that question may be creating a LOT of discomfort in your body right now. Just taken a moment to notice what is happening. Is your breath deep and relaxed or a bit shallow and tense? Are you feeling any tightness or pain in any part of your body? Just be curious. Because there is an excellent reason why this may be happening. (Or why you may not even be able to feel what is going on in your body).

The links between authenticity and safety

The reason you may be squirming at the idea of asking for your needs to be met, links to your underlying sense of safety.

Most of us can recall experiences in life where we asked for a need to be met and our request was ignored or turned down. Sometimes that happened with aggression, or worse. So, we learned that this need wasn’t “appropriate”. If we expressed that need, then something unpleasant happened as a consequence.

Very sensibly, we then begin to disconnect from that need. We tell ourselves that the need for X isn’t really a part of who we are. When you have done that with several of your needs, how authentic are you really capable of being?

Very literally, the process of being authentically you may put you in danger. That triggers the nervous system and that in turn has repercussions on your physical health, as we explored in this blog post.

Unfortunately, the repression of your need also triggers your nervous system. This time, it’s you yourself creating the sense of danger, not the other person. Talk about a Catch 22 situation!

So, how do you begin to unravel that?

The Credit Card Metaphor

I invite you to imagine that you are stuck at home with a nasty virus (don’t worry: you’re going to recover speedily, but right now you feel bad). A week ago, a new neighbour moved in. Today, they happen to knock on your door wanting to introduce themselves. They take one look at you, notice how ill you must be feeling and immediately offer you some help.

“Would you like me to get some groceries for you?” That’s very kind. You gratefully accept.

This new neighbour, whom you’ve never met before, then asks if you will give them your credit card so they can pay for your groceries. Would you agree to that?

How about later on, when your sister (just imagine you have a sister if you don’t actually have one!) calls and offers to go shopping for you? Would you give her your credit card?

Most likely, you wouldn’t give your credit card to the new neighbour who is effectively a stranger. They might also be a thief: you don’t know that. Perhaps you would give it to your sister. Then again, just because she’s your sister, that doesn’t mean she is trustworthy with your credit card.

Well, this is the same principle with your authentic self. It isn’t always safe to be authentic around other people. There are definitely situations in which the safer option is to conform to the crowd, or keep yourself completely hidden.

So, does that mean you don’t have to be authentic all the time? No. Let me explain the nuances here.

Kolorlan System: a blueprint for wholeness and metamorphosis

How authentic are you with yourself?

There is one person on this planet, with whom you need to be entirely authentic. That person is trustworthy and always has your best interests at heart. Who is this amazing person? You!

And, you may be ahead of me here. Perhaps you are now asking, but do I always have my best interests at heart? What about all those times I self-sabotaged?

Let me give you a real example here. Living with chronic fatigue means we’re functioning with lower reserves of energy. Depending on how low, we could be anywhere from bed-ridden to housebound to “just able to do a bit of stuff”. Yet, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to go out with friends, or from needing to do certain things (taking a shower, springs to mind). Your authentic self truly needs some rest, AND, your authentic self needs to connect with a friend or take a shower. Which of these two authentic selves are you going to listen to?

Understanding the fractured whole

As I mentioned earlier, when your needs aren’t met, you disconnect from the part of yourself that has that need. Basically, you fracture. The more you do this, the less authentic you become, the more triggered your nervous system is, and the more likely you are to end up experiencing some form of disease.

These fractured parts don’t simply go away because we rejected them. They desire reintegration: they desire to be part of the authentic self once again. And that sets up internal conflict.

The part that needs rest ends up fighting the part that needs to connect with friends. Neither part is “better” than the other. They are both authentically you. But they got out of balance. So, maybe your descent into illness followed a period in which you were consistently rejecting the part that needed sleep, in favour of the part that needed connection with others. In other words, one part was ignored and the other part was allowed to run riot.

What is the solution? Ultimately, you need reintegration. Many people, when they realise that, try to jump straight into that process. In fact, there are a couple of others steps that come first.

Kolorlan system: a blueprint for wholeness and metamorphosis

What is the first step to being authentic with yourself?

Before you begin the process of reintegration, you need to become aware of the authentic parts of you which you rejected. That, alone, is going to create a sense of unsafety for your nervous system. Quite simply, you need to begin by just noticing that those rejected parts exist, and noticing what happens as you see them. Do other parts come forward and protest? How safe do you feel internally and how conflicted? So, reconnecting to yourself is a process that requires baby steps, compassion and time. I will talk more about that in another post.

It is also a process that isn’t always particularly well supported or accepted in our current society. Which brings me neatly back to my starting point: AI. Why is it that Artificial Intelligence holds so much appeal? Quite simply, it speaks to the idea that we are not enough.

We aren’t smart enough to write “good” blog posts. We’re so busy trying to prove that we “deserve” to be a parent or have a job that we’re running around like headless chickens and lacking the time to do half the things we would like. So, AI can take care of all that. It can save us time. It can create something that works (essay, blog post, CV, email content, etc.). And, in so doing, we become less and less connected to our authentic selves. Rather than solving anything, it is simply side-stepping the real issue.

Finishing with inspiration

But it doesn’t have to be that way. AI could be used as a tool to save you time and create stuff you want to put out into the world. As long as you then use the time you’re gaining as time to connect back to yourself.

If you have no idea where to start that process, and you’re interested in finding out, follow this link.