When you find you can’t possibly be happy about a situation the way it is, you are left with only one other choice – be authentic. This is a decision to self-disclose what you really think and feel without hiding it. Being authentic breaks the energy-sucking cycle of constantly thinking, analyzing, and worrying about what to say, how to say it and what if someone will get mad at you!
Being authentic can be quite unnerving. What you say can and will be used against you. Yet, to not speak up is to create within yourself a smoldering resentment that will end up eating you from the inside as mentioned in Listen to Your Body. Sooner or later, failing to be authentic will cause a person to either blow up in anger or passively-aggressively get even with the person with whom they are upset.
Being authentic is the third principle to living mindfully in the present. It is a doorway anchored in action. No amount of study will ever teach you how to be authentic. You must swallow hard and just do it, risking the possibility someone will not like it. You will learn that most of the time whatever you feared does not actually happen, and when it does, you will handle it.
The danger of acting on this principle is that you may be ‘harmfully’ authentic. Your true feelings may emerge in the form of judgments that attack, reject, or abandon another person. The remaining nine principles for mindfully living in the present are geared to reducing this risk so that you will authentically act with love and respect for others and for yourself, even if they don’t always agree. Then you will feel comfortable being who you are, even if others don’t like it.
This principle is woven through all of my books. In What’s Important Now, it is the third chapter. In that book, you learn that three types of thinking block you from being authentic – replay, role-play and fantasy-thinking. You learn how our need for approval is underneath these three culprits. Being authentic breaks the cycle of a racing mind and anxiety-laden inner life. It is the first stage in our spiritual journey that I call the Inner Peace Mission. You will also read a different take on this in Chapter 2 of The Non-Judgmental Christian – “Be real, not nice.”