Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Human Nature, Life, Living, Love, Oppression, Self, Self-determination, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality, Talents and Skills, Values

Love and Authenticity

SUMMARY: Mutual love with another person typically provides inspiration and encouragement to be true to ourselves.

(About a 4 minute read)

When I was nineteen, I met the first great love of my life.  A woman I believed to be so remarkable that I arranged for us to have a heart-to-heart discussion about what I could do to become more like her.

Unfortunately, life’s currents soon enough separated us when I had to move out of town.  But about a year after I’d met her, something quite strange happened.  I was thinking over my life one evening when I recalled a traumatic event of my childhood. That in itself was strange because the event had so traumatized me that I had no other way to deal with it than — for years — simply refusing to think about it for more than a second or two at a time.  Yet, here I was actually recalling it as fully as I could for the first time since the event had happened.

Moreover, I was absolutely certain that the reason I was now able to think about the event had to do with the incipient love that the woman from the year before and I had felt for each other.  Somehow, I felt, that love was giving me the courage to face the unfaceable.

Until then, I had no inkling that love could have such remarkable powers.

However, since then I’ve learned so much about love that I have now almost come to expect such things from it.  To be sure, I am not talking about emotional dependency — which in my opinion, many of us mistake for love.  Emotional dependency doesn’t seem to bear anything like the gifts that love does.

Apart from perhaps helping us deal with our past, one of the greatest gifts of love in my opinion is how it makes it easier — much easier — for us to be true to ourselves.  That is, to be authentic.

Now the caveat to that statement seems to be that the love must be mutual.  It doesn’t seem to do that you love them, but they don’t love you.  Or that they love you, but you don’t love them.  No, it appears the only way it works is if you both love each other.

Being true to oneself has itself so many gifts that it amazes me how so few people really practice it.  It’s like being given a cask full of beautiful jewels that you are never quite interested in enough to open.  For instance, when we are true to ourselves, there is hope someone will love us for ourselves.  But when we are not true to ourselves, that would seem unlikely.

Of course, almost no one is perfectly true to themselves. Anyone who was would most likely be socially and/or environmentally irresponsible in some way or another.  But most of us could be a great deal more true to ourselves than we apparently are.

What seems to prevent so many of us from living authentically are social pressures, such as the expectations of our friends and families, or the expectations of our religions and political parties.  Many more than a few people go their whole lives only to realize when nearing the end that being true to themselves would have meant so much more to them than what their boss or congregation thought of them.

Then too, there are certain folks who — for whatever reasons — go about telling others not to be true themselves.  They often argue that living authentically is necessarily living in a socially irresponsible manner — just as if you cannot be both socially responsible and remarkably true to yourself.

I sometimes half-jokingly think they must be employed by the people in every nation who crave to enslave the rest of us, for — if that’s what you want — telling people that being true to themselves is for “hippies”, and idealists of all stripes, is a necessary thing.  Authentic people tend not to make blindly obedient fools and followers.

There are enemies of authenticity and they are both fierce and cunning.

Love seems to release people from being overly-concerned with living up to other people’s expectations and standards. The qualification here is that it might not free you from living up to the expectations and standards of your beloved — and those can sometimes vary considerably from your own.  But otherwise, love seems to give us remarkable encouragement and confidence.

And that can be so crucial to accomplishing much of anything in this world.  The old saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman”, seems to me usually true. That “great woman” isn’t the sort who “inspires” her man to accomplishments by nagging or by complaints.  She is someone who loves him, believes in him.  And the statement is true even when it’s turned around, “Behind every great woman is a great man”.

Questions?  Comments?

17 thoughts on “Love and Authenticity”

  1. I have not finished reading it yet, but I wanted to ask before I forget my question.
    Do you believe in having ‘the one?’ One ‘true love’? This raises other questions I could ask, but each would be veering towards one answer or another. For example; If you do believe in ‘the one’ how do you know you’ve found them, or will you ever find them, or maybe, can you fall in love with someone as hard as you could with ‘the one’ without ever actually finding them? If you don’t, well, what is falling in love with multiple throughout your life, then dying without having that one specific person by your side? Would it be a lonely last few moments, or would you be content with loving the ones you did without having that lifelong partner?
    Okay, I’ll finish reading the post now.

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    1. So far as I know, Marysa, some people have only one big or great love in their lives, but others have at least two or three big loves.

      By “big loves”, I mean the kind of loves that change us as people, that renew us, and allow us to affirm living. When you have a love like that, it’s pretty obvious. You usually don’t need to wonder whether it’s love or not. You just know it’s love.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “For instance, when we are true to ourselves, there is hope someone will love us for ourselves. But when we are not true to ourselves, that would seem unlikely.”
    I love this. It’s so true, and states it in such a way that I think, but am not intelligent enough to put in words.

    “Many more than a few people go their whole lives only to realize when nearing the end that being true to themselves would have meant so much more to them than what their boss or congregation thought of them.”
    True enough, but it could have gotten you fired back then.

    The last paragraph is perfect.

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  3. True love does invoke the true and authentic within us. It gives us the feeling of courage and freedom to be and live life to the fullest. I have always questioned the notion that there is a woman behind every man’s success …Where does gender come in, I would think! I agree with the perspectives in your post.

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    1. I should have been more precise in my post when I said there was a woman behind every great man. I meant that most people who achieve great things usually have some very supportive person in their lives. Gender doesn’t really come into it, as you point out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I took it exactly the way you meant it Paul and was greatly thrilled that you have the perspective that I haven’t yet put into words 🙂 I excitedly conveyed that message again in my comment. You said it perfectly in your post.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I too believe love gives the courage to face the unfaceable and if, as you say, we remain true to ourselves, we could live with a little bit of emotional dependence, in a positive sense…being addicted to love.
    I’m trying to be optimistic today, as you can see.

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    1. I’m not sure how possible it is to live without some measure of emotional dependence, although — as I see it — emotional dependence can be pretty destructive. Yet, the best we seem able to do anything about its destructiveness is to recognize the dangers and avoid them while acknowledging and accepting the dependence itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Now I kept thinking wouldn’t emotional dependency be a part of loving too? How can we love the one and not expect? But I guess love doesn’t expect, doesn’t demand. Yet can one keep loving, unrequited love, and be peacefully happy about it? What if the one you truly love doesn’t love you back ever?

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    1. Those are some very important questions, Parikhit. There are various ways to answer them, too. I’d answer them thus:

      Emotional dependency can be dangerous to love because it can cause us to value our dependency on someone more than we value them themselves. But it seems to be something that inevitably occurs sooner or later in any loving relationship. Maybe the best we can do is become aware of its dangers while accepting the fact of it.

      I agree with you that love does not demand — dependency does, though.

      I’ve been able to be happy in situations where I’ve loved someone without being loved back. The trick for me has been to accept — profoundly accept — that they do not return my love.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ‘Emotional dependency can be dangerous to love because it can cause us to value our dependency on someone more than we value them themselves.’
        I am not quite sure about it. I mean you love someone and separate the emotional dependency, isn’t that hard? Should that be one of the facets of being in love? Otherwise it’s just about dinners, TV and holidays together! I find it baffling.

        ‘The trick for me has been to accept — profoundly accept — that they do not return my love.’ Isn’t that murderous! You love someone, keep loving, watch the other person carry on with his or her life, while you wish, however tiny that wish may be, you could be with that person.

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