The Difference Between Authenticity And Reactivity

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One reason why we might fear being authentic is that we confuse being reactive with being authentic.

And since we might fear the impact of our reactions on others… we fear authenticity itself.

The thing is, being reactive and being authentic are not the same thing.

Reactivity is letting whatever arising emotion to be expressed in our most instinctual pattern. For example, it might mean allowing a surge of anger to explode if we’re instinctually driven to do so, or on the contrary, stuffing it inside if that’s what our reactive pattern is conditioned to do.

Authenticity, on the other hand, is feeling the surge of anger just as it starts arising, skillfully coming back to our center as we evaluate with curiosity and acceptance what is triggering our emotional reaction and what the circumstances around us are, and making a careful assessment on how to express our anger.

In reactivity, we are unconsciously driven by our emotional center and we unconsciously react from our instinctual center. Basically, we only use two intelligence centers and in a non-integrated way.

No wonder we fear our own reactivity!

When we choose authenticity, we integrate our four intelligence centers - Heart (emotions), Mind (thoughts), Body (gut instincts) and Spirit (higher purpose) – by somatically coming back to our center and asking ourselves the following questions:

  • Is it the right time and place to express my emotions? Alternatively, would asking the person/people to step aside with me or postponing until later be wiser?

  • How is it most effective to express my feelings? Is letting it all out the most adequate expression in this specific situation? If not, would translating these feelings into self-aware and eloquent language less damaging to the relationship and more useful to move forward?

  • What is the context surrounding my emotional experience? How could everyone be best served, with both truth and compassion?

An authentic response integrates the intelligence and the truth of our Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit. And because it’s not just about ourselves, when we are truly authentic we also consider the unique context in which we are emoting, our relationships with others and the impact we would like to have in the world.

Reactivity is just emotional vomiting. It sure is real but it’s only real from a limited part of ourselves, a part that might actually be triggered in reaction to something that occurred a long, long time ago.

Authenticity is integrating our whole truth into our response to what is happening with a specific person, in the present moment. It is truth, compassion and purpose weaved together harmoniously.