Authenticity: All The World’s A Stage

mask

How much does your inner persona agree with your outer persona? Are you truly living as the person you present yourself to be to the world? Whether the mirror test makes you think of your opportunities for more cohesion with your inner and outer states, or if the accounts of your public persona develop your mind for further inquiry; there remains an awareness of certain parts of oneself that would rather be kept silent from other discerning examinations. In psychology the term cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognition’s: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc

The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to cut dissonance by altering existing cognition’s, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements. It is the distressing mental state that people feel when they “find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.” A key assumption is that people want their expectations to meet reality, creating a sense of equilibrium. Likewise, another assumption is that a person will avoid situations or information sources that give rise to feelings of uneasiness, or dissonance.

Values such as Honesty, Compassion, Integrity, Forgiveness, Love, Knowledge, Discipline, Faith, and Leadership are in the foundations of many cultures around the world. These ideas are instilled within the pillars of education in many societies and have an impact on those exposed to these teachings. The beliefs we come to know are influenced by such teachings, yet we sometimes are not so good as to put them in practice. We often take these teachings for granted and the development of these social skills are not efficiently used or thought out. Thus, we fail to properly acquire the awareness that allows our behaviors to consistently follow the congruent ideals behind them.

Cohesion between the inner self and the outer persona often equivocate questions about what you know and what you don’t know about yourself. We sometimes wear many hats in our lives, but do they share the core of values we bring to the world? William Shakespeare wrote the play “As You Like It” in 1599 which included the following excerpt…

All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Neil Peart’s lyrics in the Canadian Rock band RUSH borrowing from this theme wrote the song Limelight…

Living on a lighted stage approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality beyond the gilded cage
Cast in this unlikely role, ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact
Living in the limelight, the universal dream
For those who wish to see
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation, the underlying theme
Living in a fish eye lens, caught in the camera eye
I have no heart to lie
I can’t pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend
All the world’s indeed a stage and we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience outside the gilded cage
Living in the limelight, the universal dream
For those who wish to see
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation, the underlying theme
Living in the limelight, the universal dream
For those who wish to see
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation, the underlying theme
The real relation, the underlying theme
For comparison the context in these cases may slightly differ and merely reflect partially related examples of the human condition outlined in this post. The guilded cage reference is an idiom that suggests If someone is in a gilded cage, they are trapped and have restricted or no freedom, but have very comfortable surroundings- many famous people live in luxury but cannot walk out of their house alone. I equate this idiom to the idea that we can also be lazy in our rendering of the person we wish to be, and the actual reality of who we are remains behind a shroud from others. For whatever reason one can surmise about why we act the way we do, they all lead to the same conclusions about our disconnection between the inner self and the outer self we put into practice everyday. The take-away from these references raises questions about our conscious self and if viewed as we are coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces and influences which are very different from itself; then authenticity is one way in which the self acts and changes in response to these pressures. While greater accountability may not cure-all the world’s ills, it does give a sturdy foundation on which you can build long-lasting solutions. Many examples of ethical doctrines come to mind that have circulated our planet having a huge impact on the followers of the “Ætérnitas témporum dominus”; or ageless masters.

So if we are aware of such self examinations and find some incongruities, how do we decide which particular secrets and personal episodes we would share with others? The questions just keep coming! Are there indiscretions we have never shared that one should openly talk about? Are there subjects that we should discuss with others in our social networks to truly be an authentic person, or are there some subjects we should never talk about? Who will be effected knowing the skeleton’s that are buried deep within our closets? Who will we trust to keep our personal information in perspective without being unjustly judged from past volition’s? How does not being forthright complicate our dealings with our relationships, our associations, and or families? Does subduing this information affect the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life? Are we judgmental of others, and sensitive to those who may tread closely to these concealed experiences that we deny others of fully understanding?

A central proposition of existentialism is that “existence precedes essence”, which means that the most important consideration for the person is that he or she is an individual—an independently acting and responsible conscious being (“existence”)—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits (“essence”). The real life of the individual is what is what could be called his or her “true essence” instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence used by others to define him or her. Thus, human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values and determine a meaning to their life. Although it was Jean-Paul Sartre who explicitly coined the phrase, similar notions can be found in the thought of existentialist philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Heidegger. The presupposition some make is that we have the capability to connect with our divergent selves as well as recognize that we can suppress, disregard, obfuscate, and be apathetic to the discoveries we find within our inquiries when we scrutinize ourselves.

I for one think that simplifying our lives can lead to some steps in the right direction. We can only control what we can control. The power to transform ourselves into the ideal of who want to be and who we actually are is a respectable notion depending on what that ideal is. My thought is that we as a culture overwhelmingly pay little attention to syncing our internal persona’s with our external behaviors in many instances of our lives. Maybe I am just deluded into thinking that such an idea is true for the majority of us due to the chaos we seem to invoke upon one another that exists all around the world. Whether this comes down to a “Zero-Sum Game” in the process of extending our true selves for others to see, or whether we should respectfully omit certain truths about ourselves from the others around us and not completely “come clean” with our dirty laundry is ultimately up that person. I respectfully submit to the reader that in many of these cases, honesty is the best policy, but the collateral damage that can be incurred is something to consider before the decision to align one’s selves (inner and outer) is effectuated. There are many tangents not covered in this post such as confabulations, attributes of the sub-conscious, issues of self-awareness, and mental disabilities, that will obviously augment the analysis and depth one can take this topic.

May Sarton

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
May Sarton
Margery Williams

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.’Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

C.G. Jung

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
C.G. Jung
Mollie Marti

“Our power lies in our small daily choices, one after another, to create eternal ripples of a life well lived.”
Mollie Marti
“Sincerity is the fulfillment
of our own nature,
and to arrive at it we need
only follow our own true Self.
Sincerity is the beginning
and end of existence;
without it, nothing can endure.
Therefore the mature person
values sincerity above all things.”
― Tzu-ssu

Ryokan

“Keep your heart clear
And transparent,
And you will
Never be bound.
A single disturbed thought
Creates ten thousand distractions.”
Ryokan

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