The wake-up call of life, that you take action on, is always a shock to your system. It’s a discontinuity, a realisation, and a coming into consciousness. It’s often very uncomfortable, but it is the start of your journey on your Personal Quest and towards your Authentic Life.
The Inauthentic Life
Many people display symptoms of living lives that are not authentic, and oddly, this is especially common for high achievers. These people outwardly show the qualities of believing they deserve the high wealth and status they have gained, but often, if you scratch the surface, these feelings may be somewhat fraudulent and actually, they may feel that they don’t fully deserve the success they have achieved.
Perhaps too, they fail to speak and act truly out of their real feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and desires. Instead, they live mostly out of their social status, and act on a kind of auto-pilot, habitually doing the same kinds of things each day and enjoying the same entertainments each day.
They have high expectations for themselves and others despite the fact that they probably inherited those expectations and values too from their upbringing, their social group and their environment.
It’s my observation that people living inauthentic lives suffer from stress, insecurity, failed relationships, guilt, approval seeking, boredom, aimlessness, pessimism, and burn-out.
Instead of experiencing fear and insecurity in the inauthentic life, I recommend you follow in the spirit of Helen Keller, who was an incredible American woman who said,
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
There follows a method that I have adapted from observing people on their personal quests and that may work well in taking you along that path through your own adventure.
Start with Acknowledging Your Full Engagement
The first step is to acknowledge the truth, which also requires the adoption of a concurrent belief that a beneficial change is possible for you too. It requires the acceptance that you are fully absorbed in life in an observant and mindful state.
This is often the hardest part since there is an inherent fear in knowing the truth because it usually means things will have to change, even to the extent of letting go of these old perceptions of yourself.
But a change for the better often comes with an initial, limited cost.
Just as in a dream you are normally fully absorbed so in normal life things are usually no different.
Signs of Possibility
The second step is to change your habitual way of seeing the world. This may require a being creative to discover what kinds of changes would be beneficial. It may be a simple brainstorming exercise to consider what possibilities there are or it may require various forms of training to free up your current modes of perception.
This can be achieved by fostering your attention to be open and able to see or hear potential opportunities for change as they arise.
Observation is critical here. You need to spot what are the habitual characteristics of your life in order to differentiate and hear opportunities for authenticity.
The third step is to recognise which of these potential opportunities actually have merit. It helps to have a list of 10 to 15 things you can work with to have enough material to complete this step.
Then decisions need to be made on the best ordering of this list to enable quick wins in your quest for personal authentic growth. Furthermore, some wins take longer by their nature and these are the pieces to be cherished to enable continued development over time.
Clarity of Purpose
The fourth step is acknowledgement. You need to clarify your purpose by taking account of the above material to generate sufficient motivation to take you across to your new path to authenticity.
This will generate some action.
Perform a Pre-Determined Action
The fifth step is to take action to follow the highest priority appropriate opportunities on the list. This action step requires you to break some of the habits built up and come off the auto-pilot to take some different steps. Here you are waking up to life and taking control.
Here you must take specific actions to ensure the wake up occurs by taking control and achieving your potential at least in some aspect.
Remaining on the Journey to be Fully Authentic
The sixth and final step is to pay attention to your auto-pilot reactions. For change is never easy and it’s easy to kid yourself that change is happening when it is not.
But as in any journey, you will be off course much of the time and constant adjustments are required to stay on track. It’s also good to acknowledge that the skills of developing authenticity require a deeper awareness of yourself. Only when you have been on the new path for a while can you fully realise the difference being made by following this method, so periodic checkups are important.
You must keep pressing forward along the path and develop that deep awareness and regenerate your motivation constantly. This means that you must go back to step one and iterate through the steps again and again in the light of your new perceptions and development requirements.
It seems that almost everyone is under the spell of some social group consensus and they continue their habits of a lifetime without much thinking. As Arthur Schopenhauer said,
“how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophise”
Unfortunately, this lack of attention enslaves so many people and ensures that they passively endure their assigned life paths.
It is interesting to note that the word Buddha means “The One Who Woke Up”, and in contrast to the above, he demonstrated that when you pay attention and are fully conscious, you can choose to control your life’s path and become truly free.
Now… Wake-Up… to the present moment, to your future and to your authentic life.