I’ve just finished listening to Dr Gabor Maté being interviewed by David Malone about his new book, The Myth of Normal.
One of the things that stood out for me was his observation that many of us are living inauthentically in order to fit in and be accepted by our families and loved ones.
He points out that we are wired by nature to be authentically in touch with our bodies, emotions, and feelings, including gut feelings, in order to survive. Also, as mammals we are wired for attachment, beginning with attachment to our parents when we are babies.
However, Dr Maté says that many of us have given up self-connection for the sake of attachment. We are too afraid to be ourselves as we fear rejection. We would rather live an inauthentic life than not belong. Belonging was also highlighted by Maslow as being one of the most basic of human needs, and most people can identify with a feeling of not belonging at some point in their lives.
It’s also important to be able to give voice to our authenticity. In his book, Dr Maté refers to a study that followed 2000 women over 10 years. The result was that those women who were unhappy in their marriages and not able to speak about their true feelings were four times more likely to die earlier than those who could.
Maté also says that when we live inauthentically our partners do not truly know who we are. For us it can result in feelings of loneliness even when we are with our partner or surrounded by a large group of people. Our health suffers.
If you are someone who tries to live an authentic life, or would like to, then Dr Maté’s interview and book are confirmation that being authentic is good for you.
However, it’s quite possible that after spending years supressing your authentic self, you may no longer even be familiar with who you are.
Journalling gives us an opportunity to connect with our inner selves. To ask ourselves the question, Who am I? and to explore the answers that arise. We can’t expect all the answers to come at once, but we can perhaps find one piece of the jigsaw each time we sit down with our journals by asking questions that can gently nudge us in the right direction.
JOURNAL PROMPT: What do you enjoy doing? What lights you up? What drains you?
Here are the links to Dr Gabor Maté’s interview and book.