A Coaching Power Tool created by Johanne Allaire
( Life coach, CANADA)
How many people spend their day dreaming it away counting the days until the weekend? Or, playing the “what if” game – what if I were richer, taller, shorter, slimmer, fitter, in a relationship, or retired – I would be happy. It begs the question. Are you living authentically or in denial?
What is authenticity?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines authenticity as being “true to one’s personality, spirit or character”. Living authentically means living to your beliefs and values. You allow yourself to choose to live the life that you want.
According to Dr. Caroline Adrienne, author of the book The Purpose of your Life, a person living authentically will display the following characteristics:
- Feels optimistic Is honest and open
- Commits but is flexible
- Thinks for himself
- Goes with the flow
- Open to change
- Wants to do her best
- Knows when to apologize
- Knows how to accept and receive
- Listens to feelings
- Takes responsibility
- Acts when appropriate
- Makes healthy choices
- Knows when to stop and re-evaluate
- Knows how to ask for help
- Feels happy a lot of the time
- Is tuned into a larger field of intelligence
What is living in denial?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary denial is the “refusal to admit the truth or reality”. When we are in denial we tell ourselves that we have no control over what is happening in our life. We may say things like:
- That is just the way it is
- I don’t have any choice
- I can’t do it- It’s too hard, I am not smart enough
- I am too busy
- Then money is good so I can’t leave my job- or I will lose my pension
- It’s not my fault –it’s someone else’s fault
- It’s what is expected
- They made me do it
Have you ever watched very young children at play? They do not care about what people think of them, what they are wearing, or how much money they have. They are not afraid of asking questions or laughing out loud. Their innocence allows them to embrace life as it comes.
However at some point, for many of us living in a western culture, we are taught to follow the rules, consult authority or to look to others for our worth. Canadian Olympic medalist Silken Laumann said in her article “Authentically Me”, “At some point early in our development we are given signals-signals that being jealous of a sibling is not appropriate; that crying when we are hurt is being dramatic- and bit by bit, we layer our authentic self with more socially acceptable masks”
Running with the pact is often a safer choice than doing what we truly want. We begin to live our lives according to what is expected as opposed to what we really want. For example, some of us will continue to work at a job that no longer fulfills us, living with someone who does not honour us for who we are, or spend money that we don’t have in order to impress others, all in the belief that it will bring us happiness.
Very often we lie to ourselves. We deny that we have a problem instead of confronting it. We convince ourselves that we don’t have a choice about the direction of our life is going. We prefer the status quo rather than challenging it as it may appear to be the easier choice. Sometimes we prefer to live in denial because we are afraid. We are afraid to make the choice; afraid of what people will say; afraid of the unknown; afraid of failure. Living in denial can lead to serious problems such as substance abuse, failed relationships, depression, and health problems.
In life we have choices. Sometimes these choices are not easy, but nonetheless we have them. It takes courage to make the choices that we truly want. When we chose to take responsibility for our lives we begin to live authentically.
Sometimes we want to make the choice to live more authentically, but something is stopping us. This may be because of underlying beliefs that we acquired early on in life. Our beliefs whether they are known to us or not can have an impact on how we behave. It may be necessary to uncover these underlying beliefs in order to live authentically.
Consider this case study
Peter seemed to have it all – a good job, a big house, a boat, cars, a wife and children that he loved and that adored him. He had the dream job (or so it appeared) and he made more money than he knew what to do with.