epictetus

Conquering Fears, Modern problems, Psychology

An Authentic Man


1 Comment

Authenticity, great value, isn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be authentic?

So, what is authenticity anyway? And most important, what does it imply?

Let’s take a look at the Merriam Webster definitions.

  • worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on the fact
  • conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features
  • made or done the same way as an original
  • not false or imitation: REAL, ACTUAL
  • true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character

So, speaking about people, it can be defined as the capacity to be real, truthful could be its synonym.

Real as in doing, being and portraying who you really are, what you really like and what you really are all about. This is hard, no doubt about it.

Why is it hard you say?

OK, it’s easy and even convenient to believe that you are authentic. You might even believe you lead a life wholly created by you and for you, but, ask yourself again, how much of that is actually true?

There is an impediment for authenticity. Something we all have and that, especially in our times, is pervasive. And that is our incessant need for recognition.

The need for recognition or being validated by other people obliterates your capacity of actually being authentic. Instagram anyone?

When your goal is to be recognized, you are acting, most likely, not on what you want, but on doing what other people like or want you to want. You are, whether you admit it or not, controlled by others.

Authenticity is about being you and doing you, not someone else’s.

If you shun the despicable need for recognition, inevitably, you are going to end up doing things and being things that other people might not like and even detest. But to be truly authentic, you have to be OK with being disliked by other people. A truly authentic person will say and do whatever he thinks is correct or real to himself, not being concerned about what other people might think.

You might say: I don’t want to be disliked by other people! Who’d want that?

Well, the things that you gain from authenticity, I would say, are immensely more rewarding than the recognition you might get and the petty need of being liked by other people.

A life of authenticity will bring you freedom and trust.

Freedom, Trust

The need for recognition is based on the punishment and reward system. If you behave well and do as you’re told, you are going to be rewarded, but, if you behave badly , you are going to be punished.

It’s funny to think of it in these terms. It feels as if we were still children, right? But hey, it works just the same. When you do anything in your life, be it getting a job, buying a shirt, or behaving in a certain way and you do it because you expect applause, you are behaving in accordance to the punishment and reward system.

If you do it because you feel that you are going to get recognition and people are going to speak good or bad of you, again, you are basically seeking to be rewarded or punished.

This isn’t authentic, this isn’t real. When you’re searching for recognition and validation, you are basically a slave, a puppy to whatever society, your parents, your friends or your girlfriend mandates you to do.

What happens when you shun your need for validation and recognition is that you discover what you really are all about. You might not like many things you’ve rationalized yourself into believing you like and that is OK, it is OK because once you do that, you will start to know what freedom is really like.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” 
Epictetus

Freedom to like what you want, freedom to go out with whom you want, freedom to follow the life you think is more pleasing to you. Lovely and beautiful freedom.

To be authentic is to be free. Free from prejudice and judgment. Free to follow your own estimation of what is better and after freedom, trust arrives.

There is no trust without truthfulness, that is, authenticity. The need for recognition comes with a certain degree of untruthfulness, you are not doing, being, saying what you really think is true to you, but what is true to someone else, simply, you are lying. There can be no trust with a liar.

The hard truth, I know.

An authentic man might not be liked by everyone, but rest assured that you can trust him, as he is hiding nothing.

So how does one come about authenticity?

A long time ago, there was a city called Gordium. The legend went that inside the city there was an old astonishingly beautiful cart tied to a pole with the famous Gordian Knot.

The knot was tied by the peasant king and husband of the goddess Cybele, Gordius. The cart was a gift from the king Gordius to the god Zeus. It was said that the nonother than very next ruler of the city would be able to untie the knot.. Whoever could untie the Gordian Knot, would become the ruler of Gordium.

When Alexander The Great passed through the mighty city during his conquests in Asia Minor with his army, he heard the legend of the knot and naturally went to the place where the ancient cart with the knot still stood. He arrived then at the place and got close enough to see the knot. Everyone was attentive on what the conqueror was going to do next.

Alexander took his mighty sword out and with one fierce blow cut the impossible knot through the half. He then turned to the crowd and his army and spoke:

“Destiny is not something brought about by legend, but by clearing away with one’s own sword.”

To live an authentic life is exactly the same. Cut the knot of the need for recognition through the half. One blow.

Get your sword out, and liberate yourself from it. Cut the need to be liked by everyone and start liking you yourself. This is how you become a truly authentic person, by cutting yourself loose and standing on your own two feet.

Naturally, there is a precursor for authenticity, and that is courage. There cannot be authenticity without having courage first. The courage to be OK with not being everything for everyone, the courage to be disliked, the courage to be your own man.

Cut loose, be free, be authentic.

A great complement to this read: Separation of tasks

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism.

Subscribe here

Don’t forget to visit our shop, carefully curated. Shop

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

Advertisements
Self development, Stoic advice

Stop caring about how you look, what they think, what they say, now.


No Comments

There is a saying that says: “Man begins his life with an epicurean philosophy and ends it with a stoic philosophy” ed4eec889e9eea34aa70179175630d13

In the beginning, humans are in the full pursuit of pleasure, uninhibited pleasure as Freud would describe it. There is a constant hedonistic pursuit in food, love, and entertainment, you can notice this by the painfully persistent push of the kid at the line of Walmart for a chocolate. Later we begin to realize that this frenetic endeavor is not the best option for a good life, as there are consequences for the reckless pursuit of pleasure, sometimes ending in drug addiction, sex addiction or any other addiction that tries to hide the real and raw dilemma of humanity.

Then, if we are lucky, we begin to comprehend that the blind pursuit of pleasure might not be the smartest idea to live a good life, at this point, philosophy, starts making his illuminating way into the mind. Rationality starts kicking in, our most beautiful gift.

What do I have to do to live a good life if not pursue blindly pleasure?

I don’t know if there are people that come to stoic conclusions on their own, I’m sure there are, but for the most of us, reading Marcus Aurelius or Seneca, illuminates us into a new dimension of living. The stoic life then begins.

Answer the question, what is and what is not under my control, if I choose to act with what is under my control, I’m living a good and stoic life.

One issue I keep stumbling on is that of coming to grips with the fact that nothing but myself can bring true joy into my life and into my every moment, nobody but me has control over this.

Why do we need to be accepted all the time? To feel that others think the best of us all the time? Have you passed this petty need already?

This enslaving feeling of needing acceptance is stoically speaking, despicable. What is and what is not within your control? Within your control is to be lovable, to be an incredible friend, and to be a great man or woman. What is not under your power, however, is the power to control what other people think.

Caring about what other people think is a worthless activity.

Another worthless activity is pitying other people, you only have control over yourself, as they have over themselves. The highest form of insult you can give to anyone is that of pity. What we say when we pity someone is basically: “poor creature, I don’t think of yourself capable of doing anything, you are basically worthless”

Virtue dictates to act in the highest possible manner. This means being paramount Alfred_de_Breanski_BRS003ourselves, only by giving the example of the mountain is that the other people will become peaks in themselves.

The only think we should be concerned with is living a virtuous life. That is always, all the time completely at our dispositions.

This is relieving, this is freedom.

The only worthy goal is freedom

Epictetus

Stoic answers aim is to provide answers to the deepest human questions, which sadly, are almost always never asked.

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

GIFT A BOOK

Let’s use social media for something helpful, shall we? Help the world by spreading Stoicism, pay just $9 and gift a Mexico City person a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ll send you an email so you can write a personal message and the photo will be uploaded to the Stoic Answers page.

$9.00