Article created in collaboration with podcast participants and AcornOak Tribe.
Pass the Mic Podcast Series is an unscripted group discussion born out of AcornOak’s belief in the power of many voices.
Each episode begins with one expert - an open-minded and passionate individual who has spent a great deal of time investigating and researching a certain topic. During our hour, a small group of 4 to 6 people explores complex and difficult concepts with curiosity, uncertain beliefs and the willingness to objectively listen and learn from the shared insights of others.
Our nine episode discusses the topic of authenticity with an attempt to dive deeper into the ways authenticity translates in our daily lives.
Starting the Conversation
As the podcast host, Virginie Glaenzer paved the way for this conversation led by Melissa Nadia Viviana, an existentialist author and Beat Philosopher.
Welcoming Our Guests
We were honored to welcome our panel of special guests eager to discuss how mindfulness encourages self-awareness of our natural “stages of being” and provides updated context to our past and future selves.
Melissa Nadia Viviana is an existentialist author and Beat Philosopher who writes satire, memoir, philosophy of the mind, and existentialism. She spent the past 8 months traveling through the U.S. with her Dalmatian and hosts two brand new podcasts: “The Beat Philosopher” which discusses memoir, psychology, and philosophy of the mind, and “Calm AF Existentialist” which explores Eastern Philosophy and wisdom.
Jim Spivey, Partner, Mazzi Partners. Jim brings his experience as a former technology business executive and life coach to his work at a consulting firm focused on awakening change. He is inspired by prolific author, Peter Block, to change his own attitude toward aging and lead by example to change the world.
Misty W Gilbert is a transformational coach, blogger, writer, and speaker with a passion to encourage, support, and inspire others to create the life that they want by choosing to Intentionally Live. Misty is also a TEDx speaker on The Art of Authenticity, and vulnerably shares her horrific story of how she lived hiding in fear, hating her life, and ruled by the pain of her abusive past.
Ashok Zaman, currently living in Shanghai, Ashok Zaman is a post-traditional yogi, long-time meditator, philosopher, and casually alarmed observer.
Aaron Force is a researcher exploring ego and its impacts on humanity. Author of “What is Transpersonal Extropy,” Aaron usually describes his life as Before Awakening and After. In 2015, he experienced an awakening experience which led him to explore consciousness and help others discover their highest human potential.
Listen to the tour de table introduction of our participants.
Key Shared Insights & Perspectives
What is Authenticity?
Melissa started the discussion by exploring the definition of authenticity, according to Donald Woods Winnicott, an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst. Winnicott developed several theories and concepts that helped shape the way in which psychoanalysis is practiced today.
For Winnicott, authenticity starts with the understanding of the expression of the true and false selves. He believed that the false self was a mannerly, orderly, external self that enabled a person to fit into society. The true self, he asserted, was the self capable of creativity. He thought the act of playing was an important path by which clients could gain awareness into their true, authentic, emotional selves.
Listen to Melissa sharing her definition of authenticity.
How Do You Express Authenticity?
Misty Gilbert provided another way of looking at how to express our authenticity. She explains that there is another side of authenticity, which is spontaneity.
To be spontaneous requires us to be vulnerable in the moment by being just who we are. In this context, Misty defined authenticity as being open, real, raw and vulnerable.
From childhood, we’ve been conditioned to care about how others might perceive and receive us and to behave accordingly. We’ve been taught to put a mask on our personality, depending on our environment.
The true journey toward authenticity begins when we don't allow our environment to control how we respond. When we choose to show up regardless of who's on the call or who's in the room, then we are 100% ourselves. It enables us to channel the raw, vulnerable energy inside us as we communicate and relate to those around us.
Listen to Misty W Gilbert sharing her definition and her experience expressing authenticity.
What Are the Roles We Play?
The roles we play with our family, our partner and at work can all be very different and we can notice a shift when we go from one to the other, or a conflict when they get mixed up.
When we embody our roles too strongly or become unconscious of them, we are in danger of losing our authentic self.
When we remove the masks for those roles we play, when we can no longer rely on them to define who we are, we are faced with the question: Who am I really?
What’s left after peeling away the false layers is more truthful and genuine, even if it’s an unknown quantify,
Listen to Ashok Zaman sharing his view on the idea of roles we identify.
How Can You Cultivate Authenticity?
Practicing mindfulness seems to be one road to cultivate authenticity. The panel shared their own tools for developing authenticity:
Purposely focus on the present and just being through meditation.
Answer the call to experience truth by purposely removing our masks.
Observe, separate, and own the thoughts that are subconsciously running us without judging them, then surrender them which leads to being free.
Find your core values are and align with them regardless of others’ perceptions
Allow yourself to come unprepared and be vulnerable in the moment .
Lean into loneliness, whether physical or mental.
As we came to the end of the hour, our group ended the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their take-aways from the conversation.
Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode.
Final Thoughts to Consider
Authenticity is the ability to maintain an individual “you” state of mind in the present moment despite pressures and obligations to conform to society, the past, the future, our families, our culture, and friends.
In a complex, globalized world that gives you access to information and stimulation around the clock, it feels more and more like authenticity isn’t something you can choose to have once.
It has to be something you choose to mindfully have on a daily basis and it starts with deeply understanding your core values.
What is it that matters to you? And are you living in alignment with it internally and externally?
These questions are the foundation to living your life authentically with your true self leading the way. The answers can give you the inspiration to face the consequences of being vulnerable and refusing to conform to self-imposed or external expectations.
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