Have you ever felt awkward meeting a person you know in an unfamiliar context?
How does it feel to run across your boss in the Sauna?
Or to meet your employee in the supermarket?
Or to see your basketball buddies, that you’ve only seen in sports-gear, wearing suit and tie?
Or to come across your teenage son hanging out with friends in the park?
Or to visit your spouse at work?
Does that feel awkward? For most people it does.
The reason is that we play many roles. These are fake selves. I don’t mean that negatively. Fake selves serve the purpose of experiencing specific realities. The “father self” is to raise a child, the “lover self” is to please the wife, the “boss self” is the one put on in the office and the “friend self” he puts on with his buddies. Each of these selves have certain voices, gestures, clothes, mannerisms, vocabulary and activities. The lover-self wears perfume, the father self probably doesn’t. The boss self gives orders, the friend self probably doesn’t, unless identities get mixed up.
The true self is none of these. That’s why it feels awkward when they mix. That’s why he doesnt want his wife to go to the pub with him, because there he is not being “lover self” but “friend self”. He does not like kissing his wife when his son is near, even though his son is an adult, because his lover self and father self are separate.
But the more authentic a person becomes, the less contrast there is between the parts. Then, his son, his wife, his employees and his buddies can all sit at the same table and he’ll feel comfortable. That’s not to say that he’ll talk in the same way to his employees as with his buddies, son or wife. But if he’s authentic, he’ll feel fine having different realities present.
At a recent dinner, the host said to us “I’ve only invited anti-vaxxers, so everyone can speak freely”. It felt like some kind of underground resistance meeting. I wouldn’t define myself as an “anti vaxxer”. I think vaccines are fine. Just because I once wrote an article criticizing mandatory vaccines, the host assumed “he is an anti-vaxxer”. I guess people like pegging others. The conversation didn’t go anywhere, because everyone was agreeing on everything. Echo Chamber. I’d find it much more fun had there been a diversity of opinion. Nobody needs to be protected from other peoples opinions.
Truth does not mind being questioned, and a lie does not like being challenged.
It’s happened several times that I sat in an airport and met people who were flying to or from my seminars. At first, I didn’t like that. I was in “relaxing and minding my own business” mode, not in “Public Speaker” mode. People would come and ask me for autographs or ask about the seminar or other stuff. Some were polite and soon moved on. But others simply assumed that, because they read my books, we were now friends and they could sit and chat.
Today, the same scenario does not bother me, because I no longer feel the need to entertain. I can sit at ease and don’t need a witty answer to everything, nor do I have to be clean shaven and smartly dressed. Life is much easier without fake identities. If I dress smartly, it’s because I like to, not to impress others. That’s not to say that I’d get so relaxed that I’d go on an all-night drinking spree with them. But it is true that regardless of whether I am with family, friends, readers, fans, students or business partners I am pretty much the same person.
A while back I noticed that I was putting more effort into talking to my spouse, when other people are present. That’s inauthentic, and I’m glad I caught it. If I’m alone with my wife in the car, I might comment on a slow driver in front of me: “…wut da heck”. When someone else is present, I’ll say this instead: “What a beautiful new bridge they built over there. Has anyone walked it yet?” This is typical, as we usually like to put on a polite, sociable face in front of strangers. So I have practiced to put a little more wakefulness into my speech, even when no one is watching. Not to impress anyone, but because I like to speak consciously. Lazy speech is only a habit.
Yesterday I slept at a farm far out in the wilderness with a group of friends. After a barbecue, we spent a tranquil evening chatting, and all people went to bed by midnight. Everything was quiet and peaceful. Then, at 3:30 a.m. the peace was abruptly torn through by loud banging noises. I was startled awake. It was a friend of mine, chopping wood with full force, looking like a madman in the moonlight. He then carried the wood into a sauna and lit it. I liked the fact that he was being authentic. He didn’t care what we thought of the fact that he was going to the Sauna at 3:30. But mixed into his authenticity was a lack of respect. It would never occur to me to make noise at while everyone is sleeping. Most people would be mindful of others. Once you find your true self, take good care to balance your newfound authenticity with respect toward others.
One of the most inauthentic type of identities is the so-called “spiritual identity”. Some people, who have read my books on higher states of consciousness, expect me to have a “spiritual identity”, meaning an extremely narrow band of behavior that is stereotypical and boring. Recently, I purchased a rough looking, lifted off-road car, like something out of Mad Max. Someone commented: “I wouldn’t have expected that from a spiritual person“. The comment amazed me. It reveals a cliche image of a “spiritual person”. So what kind of car is a “spiritual person” supposed to drive? A humble car that draws no attention to itself? Life is polarity. A person can be generally humble but at other times, expressive. What’s next? Should I never wear jeans but rather only loose white robes? Should I have no playful side, no weird side and just be dull and boring and only talk about “being in the now” all the time? Being spiritual and having a spiritual identity are two very different things. A person of high consciousness is multi-faceted. That person can playfully occupy many different roles, without fully buying into any of them. You are much, much more than a single identity, much more than an astrological definition, much more than how others define you, much more than you think. You are full of unexpected and surprising sides. And as you become authentic, you will allow yourself to explore more of self and also allow others to show more of who they are.
There is a public thought and a private thought. Authenticity means that they get closer over time, until they become one.