In a recent article in Psychology Today entitled What is really happening when we feel authentic?, the author cites research that feeling authentic is more about feeling good than actually being authentic. “When people feel authentic” he says, “it may really be an indication that they are feeling positive about what’s happening and good about themselves.”
Wow! Could that be true?
DO I ONLY FEEL AUTHENTIC?
Sitting here in my sweat pants and ponytail, Do I feel authentic ? Sure, I guess. I’m writing, which to honest, is hard for me. I don’t love writing, not like I love speaking, but I choose to do it because It helps me to learn, process, and subsequently share something with you that I hope has value. It keeps me connected to my community through regular blog posts and could lead to coaching and speaking opportunities which are part of my life purpose. I feel like I’m sitting here in my office living according to my values, stewarding my strengths, and being open about my weaknesses.
And I feel pretty good. Yes, daily I feel the weight of parenting and providing for four children, growing my business, and now marketing my book, so I have to be intentional about remembering that God has got this so I don’t drown in the stress, but today I feel good. I have hope for the future. I have gratitude for the goodness in my life. And I’m not super hormonal.
FEELING AUTHENTIC V. BEING AUTHENTIC
But now I have to ask, am I actually being authentic or am I just feeling authentic?
The notion that we can’t always trust what we feel isn’t new.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”
The word, heart, in this verse is lebab, which includes the feelings, will and intellect of a man or woman. Feelings are an internal, subjective experience and they can fool us. Just because I feel something, or for that matter believe something, doesn’t make it true. I had a long season in my life when I didn’t feel forgiven by God, although I knew, according to scripture (1 John 1:9) that I really was forgiven. I’ve felt unlovable and unacceptable at different times in my life although I know that isn’t true either (see Jeremiah 31:3 and Romans 15:7).
Getting back to authenticity…I don’t just want to feel authentic (although I do want that), I want to be authentic. Different than feeling, being is an external, objective truth. I want to be my true self, who God says I am. Settling for merely feeling authentic (my opinion) or looking authentic (other’s opinion) may actually compromise the truth about me (God’s opinion.)
SEPARATING FEELINGS FROM TRUTH
Here are a few questions that I’ve started to ask myself (and God) these days to make sure how I feel lines up with who I am. In light of recent evidence, you might want to ask them too.
- How do I feel today? Does my sense of authenticity have more to do with my mood or my intention to live honestly, openly, and consistently?
- Do I feel authentic because others like who I am? Is my feeling of authenticity tied to what others think of me or living out who God made me to be?
- Am I acknowledging that I’m a sinner (in the specific ways that I fail) while standing tall and serving others in the knowledge that I’m a saint?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you ever considered that your sense of authenticity might just be a feeling?