Ripples #1094: Congruence & Authenticity
May 11, 2020
The authentic self is soul made visible.
-Sarah San Breathnach, shared by Pete in Sedona, AZ
We’re at our strongest – emotionally, spiritually, and quite often, physically – when we keep our beliefs and our outward behavior neatly in a row. When they drift one side or the other of ‘center,’ that instability will weaken us, whether or not anyone else notices.
-Tom Lally, written and shared by Tom in Cincinnati, OH
Most of us hold idealized versions of ourselves in our minds; we imagine being someone who consistently acts on our highest intentions while successfully managing our least helpful impulses.
While we all admit to certain moments of incongruity when our actions don’t live up to our proclaimed values, I think it is mighty tempting to confuse the idealized “this is how I wish I showed up in world every day” version of self with the more realistic, more accurate “this is how I actually show up in the world on most days.”
Being aware of the temptations and the tendencies of self-delusion is useful, and learning to respect and genuinely like your “real, actual me” is an important step to more consistently living your professed values.
When I first paired these quotes together, I couldn’t decide whether to identify the theme of this issue as “Congruence” or “Authenticity,” terms I’ve sometimes used interchangeably to talk about practicing what you preach. My pal Pidge made a useful distinction when she texted me in a recent exchange, “I think of authenticity as how others experience us and congruence in how we experience ourselves, if that makes sense.”
It DID made sense to me, and her distinction invited me to get curious about how congruence (how well my actions line up with my intentions) influences authenticity (how others perceive the overlap between my behavior and my values).
Since we’re human, with all our contradictions and our flaws, it is not possible to remain impeccable in maintaining perfect congruence of our actions and our proclaimed values. Still, the more often we can mindfully minimize incongruence, the more respect we will gain from ourselves and those around us.
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