By Seth Lusk
REALLY Life Changing Stuff
It’s time to talk about authenticity, and how life changing it can be. Most of you probably know by now that I coach in authenticity. It is my specialization as a life coach.
Authenticity is not my specialization for some arbitrary reason. It is not because it is something easy to coach people on. It is because of how life changing it is for people to finally give themselves the chance to choose the path of REAL authenticity in their life. I also coach in this area because I saw a real need first-hand and in lives of people around me for authenticity.
Authenticity is NOT something that comes naturally for humans. Which is why learning to identify it for yourself, and then implement it, is life changing. I know that many people like to believe that authenticity is just a simple choice a person can make to just “choose to be authentic”, and then they just start doing what feels “real” for them and call this authenticity. This is not true authenticity though.
In this article I want to explain to you all what real authenticity is, why it is so life changing, why people struggle with it, and what we can do about it. My mission in this life is to help as many people as I can to discover the life changing effect of authenticity for themselves.
Let’s start of by defining authenticity. Authenticity is the quality of being of undisputed origin. And this is what makes authenticity life changing, when a person begins to practice it within their life.
I know that many people claim to be practicing it these days. I see that people have accepted the importance of authenticity. Pop-culture is embracing the idea of authenticity, but along with this has come many misunderstandings of what living authentically actually means.
What most people are calling authenticity is a list of behaviors that are a result of a person reacting to a story of the circumstance in their life. But this is not authenticity. Let me explain what behaviors I am talking about here, and then I am going to show you why these behaviors are not authentic. Seeing this will help you better understand the life changing nature of living authentically.
( A little further reading on Authenticity, and what it means to live authentically- https://www.betterup.com/blog/authentic-self )
Some of the behaviors that people today call “being authentic” include…
Telling someone off.
Speaking their mind, or “speaking their truth” (saying whatever they think or feel in the moment to someone).
Following whatever urges their body or brain give them in the moment.
Doing only what feels good or can be done with ease in their life.
Reacting to emotional urges that the brain throws out in moments of intense emotional experience.
Now, I am not here to tell anyone how they should or should not live their life. I am here to discuss what true authenticity is, and why it is so life changing. So, the behaviors listed here (they are not an exhaustive list) are some of the behaviors I see people calling “being authentic” in pop-culture, and in our modern society. These behaviors are NOT authenticity.
Let me explain why. In the beginning of this article, I gave you a definition of authenticity. It means being of undisputed origin. None of the behaviors above fit this definition. Here is why.
All of the behaviors listed above, are reactions to an emotional experience a person is having to a story about the circumstances they are experiencing. And this might sound a bit confusing to you, if this is the first article of mine that you have ever read. So, I am going to give you a crash course in what it is that I teach about the human experience of life.
A Life Changing Story
The human experience of life is NOT the reality of life (stay with me, and I will explain). That is what makes it so beautiful, powerful, messy, chaotic, creative, exciting, terrifying, and human. We only experience a tiny, tiny, miniscule fraction of what reality actually is. Out of that experience that we take in, we are only able to consciously interpret an even tinier fragment of that information to make sense of what we are experiencing and make decisions about what we want to think about it.
These conscious decisions about these experiences layer together to create our “stories” of life. They are the lens through which we will see life and interpret it. They are the lens through which we feel emotions about our life experiences. They are what creates our belief systems, and what we will use to define what is possible for ourselves in life.
This is why 2 people can experience the same circumstance(s) and have drastically different stories about it, and have drastically different reactions, and drastically different outcomes in their life, despite having had the same circumstances experienced. It all comes down to our story of life. And the life changing ability of authenticity stems from this truth about the human experience of life.
From the moment that a person is born, the body and the brain begin to go about taking in “reality” and then interpreting it, trying to make sense of it, and the brain and body have the biological objective of staying animated/alive in this life. In this process that begins the moment our ability to sense begins, we start to create story about life.
This story is made up of all of the fragments of reality that we take in, and then the small fraction of that which we consciously interpret. The interpretation of this data at first is about figuring out how to survive in this life. As a baby we are unable to feed ourselves, keep ourselves safe or warm. We seek all of this out in the environment around us. We start figuring out behaviors that increase the likelihood of what we perceive will increase our chances of survival. As we do this we create more of a story about life, and therefore a lens through which we look through to decide how we will continue to interpret life.
In the early stages of life, this lens, and the layers of it develop really really rapidly. This is probably more out of necessity than anything else. But eventually we reach a point of being able to understand more body language, and actual language in the other humans around us. This creates a whole new way of creating layers to our story of interpretation of life.
You see, not only were we trying to interpret behaviors and body language of other humans before we understood actual language. We were creating stories about these interpretations and what it meant about us, our meaning in life, our value in life, our safety in life, and our survival in life. Once ACTUAL language comes in a whole new life changing layer to our story is added.
Now other humans (adults) that we look to for knowing about life, and what it means, for keeping us safe and fed, are telling us about life through more than just their actions. They can express their beliefs to us now, verbally.
Other people whom, as a child, we whole heartedly believe are infallible, and know what is important to know about life, are telling us THEIR stories of life. Their stories came from this same way of experiencing and interpreting life and going through the process of childhood too. As kids we do not realize this though. We don’t realize what that means about the stories they are telling us. We take them in as gospel truths mostly without question. Maybe we do ask some questions and immediately receive stimulus that indicates that this was a mistake. So many different things can happen here. What is important to understand about this, is that someone else’s story about the reality of life, based in a miniscule fraction of the actual reality of life, is what we begin forming our beliefs about what is true/fact about life.
Within this we form beliefs about what is true about ourselves, and what we “should” or “should not” want out of life. We form beliefs about what is “good” or “bad” to want in life. We form ideas and beliefs about the boundaries of what is possible for us in this life, or what would be impossible. As we are forming these stories, there is almost no awareness of the fact that we are allowing ourselves to have these stories about life almost formed for us, based in someone else’s story of life that we have no way of fact checking, and often are given very powerful signals to never question. Sometimes we may even be signaled that questioning these stories being handed to us, may compromise our safety, survival, acceptability, or lovability in this life. It is TRULY a life changing time period for us. Most of it is occurring without our conscious permission, or awareness.
The Root of Inauthenticity
This is where INAUTHENTICITY actually stems from in humans. This formative time period is a massive breeding ground for inauthenticity. The reason being that the stories we buy into, and make our own about life, are not in-fact our own. We do not know that we have the ability, let alone permission to write our own story of life. We are not typically informed of at that time, that we have the power to write our own story of life. At that age, even if we did know this, we would not know the tools of how to do this. We would want to learn them.
Most people never learn these life changing tools though. They survive their childhood and come out of them with their stories that are a conglomeration of ideals handed down, interpretations of those ideals, and us trying to just make it through until we are old enough to make decisions for ourselves about our life. But, by the time we are old enough to do so, many of us do not consider how much our view of the world is already so heavily layered with inauthentic beliefs and stories about life.
Many of us go into our adolescent years and adulthood just wanting to get away from and put distance between ourselves and those years of our life. We are trying to get into universities with these stories, deciding on career paths, trying to find someone to love us and marry us. There are so many life changing decisions being socially pressured onto us to make.
A Life Changing Process
At the same time, there is no social pressure to PAUSE, and look back at those years and dissect them so that we can look at the baggage of inauthentic beliefs about ourselves, life, and what is possible for us, that we are carrying with us into the adult chapter of our life, and the decisions we will make there.
This life changing process of looking back over our formative years, healing wounds, dissecting beliefs that we took on, listening to stories about the world around us or of ourselves that we created during those times, based in how we saw the world then; all of this is the life changing process of authenticity.
Authenticity and living an authentic life, IS choosing to step into this process once we are aware adults. Meaning that we are aware that we have stories in our mind that are telling us what we should believe about ourselves and life. Meaning that we are aware that these stories do not HAVE to be true. Meaning that with this awareness, we choose to take the intentional time to uncover the layers of these stories to move closer and closer to what we actually WANT to believe about life. Life changing authenticity is about INTENTIONALLY writing a new story about life based in what we find under the layers of inauthenticity that we remove.
Some of what we find when we remove the layers of inauthenticity will be wounding that we want to heal by paying attention to the stories around the wounds, to find the misunderstandings that led to the wounding. It also means finding how that wounding has created stories that we still react to today in how we make decisions about our actions in life, and what is possible for our future.
Underneath those same layers of inauthenticity we will also find TRUE values. By “values” I mean the things that feel genuinely important for us in this life. Things like integrity, or truth, or compassion, or trust, or freedom. I know that some of you might be thinking that you already know your values, you do not need to explore your past, and stories that stem from it to find them.
This is partially true. You probably do have a set of values in mind that you can recall. You probably act in ways in life to try and reflect those values. You probably also catch yourself using willpower time and time again to try and express those values into your life, and maybe find yourself “failing” at it, and then reinforcing the belief that you are a broken and corrupt being that needs saved from yourself to be able to live out your values.
An Authentic Story
I want you to consider another story here. It is a story of social programming, virtue signaling, misunderstood conditional worth, and escaping painful emotions attached to stories and memories. In this story, at a very early age you began to interpret cues from adults and the world around you about what “should” be important to you. You received signals about what a “good” person values in life, and how they show that.
What this means is that, as an adult, not only are you probably carrying values that are not authentic for you. You are probably also not clear on what values are most important to you at an authentic level, and how to prioritize them. You are probably also not clear on WHY you personally, WANT those values in life, and WANT to express more of them into this life. You simply know some story that was handed to you about what you SHOULD value, and why you SHOULD believe that this makes you a “good” person to value them.
This is at the very core of inauthenticity. It is also the life changing focus of beginning a path of authenticity. Carving out intentional time to use tools, exercises, and presence to remove inauthentic layers, and get closer and closer to seeing what YOU authentically value in this life, and WHY you value it.
But WHY is Authenticity Life Changing?
Authenticity is life changing, not just because of some “woo woo” good feeling we get from doing certain things we never let ourselves do before. It is life changing because we are doing things with INTENTION that align with what we discover and remember has been TRULY important for us this whole time. We start doing things that align with what we REMEMBER about ourselves to be true before we started believing stories others told us about what had to or should be true about us in this life.
When we start doing these things, coming from an aligned place in our deepest true selves, we are no longer doing them out of fear, and resistance. We are doing them out of curiosity, compassion, excitement, unconditional love, and truth. We become UNSTOPPABLE in choosing this path of action the more we choose it.
By becoming unstoppable in these actions, we consistently choose a path of action that is different, and the intention behind it is different that the action we were taking before. This leads to different results. And those results are LIFE CHANGING because they are not these temporary bursts of willpower, resistance, shame, fear, or guilt that create quick, intense behavior changes. Instead, they are guided, intentional, aligned, purposeful lifestyle changes.
Grab a Helping Hand (it could be life changing)
All of us as humans are capable of this change. So, you might be wondering why so few people do this with their lives. The truth is, it has a lot to do with a skill, and strength gap. People are not taught how to self-reflect in a way that is not about shame, guilt, fear, rejection, blame, punishment, and conditional worth.
So, when people attempt to go on this journey alone, their own old stories of life actually hold them back from being able to peel back the layers of inauthenticity. In fact, many times this attempt to journey into this alone leads a person to adding on more layers of inauthenticity as the reinforce stories they already carried about how broken they are, by using the evidence they look for in their personal development work.
It is so important to know that asking for help here and working with someone for help is not being done because you are broken. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of a true desire to want to move past these layers of inauthenticity, and learn the tools, skills, and practice them into strengths while someone who is experienced, and ready, and more objective to your journey than you, is there to help keep you from slipping back into old stories.
Working with a coach, or counselor here is a great idea. You want someone who is able to hold space for you. You want someone who when you tell them about what you are struggling with, you feel heard and seen, but not judged. You feel willing to (even as it feels uncomfortable) to step into being vulnerable and showing the full truth of what is going on, and say “can you look at this with me and help me figure out what is happening here”. This is essential for this kind of work.
If you work with someone whom you feel the need to hide the truth from or alter the truth to escape feelings of being judged, then this journey will not work. If you find yourself skipping pieces of the truth to avoid certain uncomfortable feelings, then maybe this person is not the person you want to work with here. You want someone who can help you create a feeling of safety, trust, and unconditional love, so that you can choose vulnerability and offer yourself the biggest chance in seeing your own layers of inauthenticity.
So, authenticity is life changing. It is something that ANY and ALL adults can benefit from exploring. Even if you have explored in the past, this is not an “I’ve arrived at authenticity” kind of journey. There is always more to uncover, and there is always more fulfillment to add to your life in doing so.
You are never too old, or too young to dive into this journey. I wish more children and teenagers were being encouraged to start this journey early in life. I wish more people in their elder years knew of the fulfillment and healing that could come from choosing this journey, even later in life.
Work with someone who can show you what this path looks and feels like FOR YOU. This is the other side to authenticity. General knowledge, like this blog post, books, courses, videos, etc… may point you in a direction, but this does not substitute for the individual work that helps you guide yourself to where YOUR unique path of authenticity is going to take you.
As a life coach myself, that specializes in authenticity; I can tell you that as I work with my clients one on one, I discover over and over just how unique everyone’s journey is, into choosing authenticity. I use some of the same exercises with my clients, but how we implement them from person to person, varies greatly, and with many of them, they have exercises that were designed specifically for them, and none of my other clients use them, because they are specific to one person’s life changing journey of authenticity.
Some Authentic Encouragement
As we come to a close with this article, I want to leave you with encouragement. If you are feeling like life is something you are just stuck surviving. If life feels like something you have to deal with and get through until your next weekend, next meal, next drink, next shopping spree, next vacation, next time to have sex, next time to play video games, next time to scroll through social media, next time you can binge watch tv… Then you, my friend, are feeling the signal of inauthenticity. Inauthenticity will urge you to escape life as much as you can and believe that this is the point of life. It is to just make it through to the moments of temporary, short-sighted escape, that only leave you feeling further and further from living the life that a part of you (deep deep deep down) knows you are designed to live.
I want to encourage you that if you are feeling this in your life. If you are fighting to survive circumstance in your life, then there is life changing hope right here in this moment. Authenticity is that life changing hope. It is a choice that you can make in any moment. It is not something you have to wait around until XYZ is in place to choose it. You can begin choosing it now and begin seeing the life changing effects NOW.
I also want to encourage you to reach out, and ask for guidance, support, and help in this. Do not let your pride and ego convince you that you are somehow better off figuring this out alone, and not letting anyone else know that you are feeling the pain of surviving a life of inauthenticity. You are not broken, or weak. You are FAR from alone, although your experience of this is truly unique and powerful in a way that only you can experience.
You do not have to, and are not better off choosing this path alone. You have everything in you to start your journey of authenticity and to do it unstoppably. You are not reaching out for support to get those things. You are reaching out to have someone who can see those things within you, to be able to show you where to find them, and how to use them.
Before now, you have been programmed and taught to do almost the exact opposite. You have been taught conditional worth, disempowerment, victimhood, blame, shame, and guilt. Reaching out for help and support is to help you to use all of the strengths inside of you in a way that uses unconditional love, empowerment, responsibility, and compassion.
Let authenticity be the life changing journey that you were designed to choose in this life. Choose it. Watch yourself begin moving unstoppably into a life that you no longer want to escape.
It is YOUR time to RISE & THRIVE.
(for another great article on the life changing effects of authenticity- https://villakalima.com/the-life-changing-power-of-authenticity/)
Seth Lusk, Founder, and CEO of Authentic Life Connection: coaching services. He is also the podcast creator and host for the Authentic Life Connection podcast. He is a published author of the book What I really want is… But I’m Just too full of… . This book is available on Amazon for purchase. Seth is a Life coach as well. He works with clients one-to-one as well as in groups to help them create their most authentic and fulfilling life, from the inside out. Seth is also the founder and CEO of Lusk Holistic Health Services (the umbrella company for Authentic Life Connection: coaching services). Under this umbrella company Seth also provides guidance in fitness and nutrition for his clients. This comes from his background and education in exercise science and nutrition. Seth has worked with hundreds of clients to get clear on their authentic goals for their life, fitness, and health, and helped them create unstoppable authentic action to actualize these in their lives. For more about how to get in touch with Seth or hear more about his work, you can find him @ https://www.lifecoachseth.com . There you can access his podcast, book, social media, as well as speak with Seth directly about working with him one-to-one as coach/coachee. To access the “Authentic Life Connection” podcast, follow the link below