What does “Authentic” mean?

by Sara Ness

 

“It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” — Abraham Harold Maslow

 

What does authentic mean?

Is authenticity total honesty in all your words and actions? Is it following your impulses, your emotions, or your beliefs? Is it integrity? Is it a popular word that writers use to get more hits on Google?

I’ve spent the past seven years teaching authentic connection. I’ve worked with thousands of students across multiple countries, and one constant issue participants run into is “finding their authentic truth.” 

 

What Does Authentic Mean, And Why Is It So Hard To Find?

So really, what does authentic mean? Why does it seem so difficult to find “true authenticity”?

Imagine a city. 

It’s huge, sprawling, filled with alleyways and shops that you could never explore in a year of looking. The city has many entrances. It belongs to you,...

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Learning How to Fuck Up

authentic relating Feb 13, 2019

by Sara Ness

 

What if “you did it wrong!” could be a compliment?

Our culture tends to penalize mistakes. When someone does a “wrong thing” – hits on a woman who doesn’t want it, lies, fails to keep a commitment – they are likely to end up in trouble. Our system is far more interested in retributive (punishment) than restorative (learning and repairing) solutions to people-problems.

The only problem with this is that it isn’t actually how people learn.

Around 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote: “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. We learn by reading and researching, by seeing examples, but most of all by TRYING things, and often getting them wrong.

Imagine a woman who has repressed her sexuality all her life. Growing up, she got the model that “flaunting” herself through fancy clothes or flirtation was wrong, maybe even immoral. She saw her parents dress conservatively....

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The Process of Authenticity

by Sara Ness

After 3 years of leading communities, and encountering every sort of capital-T bolded-letters you’re-wrong-if-you-don’t-agree TRUTH, I’ve discovered that authenticity – as in, “my TRUTH is paramount for me to bring to the world” – is itself a subjective idea. I love discovering what’s true for me, through my body, emotions, mind, and environment. But I no longer assume that TRUTH is such a permanent state.

What I feel, experience, want, and believe changes moment by moment and day by day. How I communicate it is also a process in flux. There is no Wrong or Right. The most pain I see is when people attach to their TRUTH as an identity, and die a little death every time it’s questioned.

Authenticity and relating are both parts of a wider whole. In this world, there is no definitive Right or Wrong; there is no ground. This is terrifying. No ground? No certainty by which to know even my own...

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The Pain of Presence

authentic relating May 27, 2014

by Sara Ness

I never know how to start an article.

I have practiced authenticity and transformational work for years now, and I still don’t know how to begin a sentence that will touch people to their bones.  I don’t know what to say when a friend tells me that their parents have passed away, or when somebody I love tells me that they don’t feel the same.

I started doing Authentic Relating – like so many people do – looking for a “solution”. I didn’t feel broken, but… there were things in my life that I knew could be improved.  I was in a fairly dysfunctional relationship.  I felt uncertain about my major in college, and my life beyond that.  I didn’t have much connection with my body or the physical experience of being me.  I wanted to fix all of that.

Well, two years later, I can successfully say that nothing about me has been fixed.

Some days it drives me crazy.  After all the work...

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