The Power of Authenticity

Ever think about how powerful it is to be authentic? Truly authentic – being real about who you are, your feelings, your self, your relationships and your life. No apologies, no guilt, no aggression, no regrets. Just honest truth. Everyday in every possible way… Ever notice how some people just seem to be so ‘real’ – we admire their capacity to be unaffected by what others think. They seem to have such freedom of expression, and yet they are calmly affectionate and responsible within their own lives. In fact they can be so real that they make those who hide their feelings, uncomfortable. Perhaps that’s why horses make some people uncomfortable (besides of-course their size!). Horses are real all the time – they never try to hide what they feel, how they think or what the impact is of what is happening to them.

A horse’s psychology is its physiology– they don’t separate their feelings fr:om what they express with their bodies, don’t separate mind from body or heart from mind. What you see is what you get – always honest, always real and always truthful, yet not ‘in your face’ or with any expectation other than that you too will be truthful.

Wow, imagine being with a person like that! As humans we seem to spend so much time trying to ‘find ourselves’, define our purpose and generally trying to reconnect with ourselves, each other and our environment. We separate mind, body and soul, and read loads on how to reconnect these three aspects of ourselves. Awareness of our connectedness is what seems to help us regain our balance and awareness of our interconnectedness is what helps us gain the insight we need to have healthy relationships. For me as a counsellor, friend, trainer, coach and lover such an important reminder to be authentic – and accept and trust that that is in fact enough. Those that love me, truly love me, will love all of me and respect me for my authenticity.

It is an amazing thing when you start reading a horse’s body language accurately and notice that how a horse feels is how it stands, runs and generally interacts with herd mates and human handlers. A horse expresses six very clear emotional messages with its tail, and it does so obviously for all to see. And as soon as the reason for the emotion stops so does the tail – returning to soft and rounded, meaning calm and relaxed. When was the last time you allowed your body to express how you felt? How about swishing your tail in annoyance instead of smiling politely, or tucking it in fear instead of pretending to be strong and unaffected by harshness?

My good friend and Canadian horse whisperer, Chris Irwin, always says, ‘to err is human, to forgive is equine’. When you are spending time with horses you will notice that the smallest adjustment in your attitude, behaviour, or mindset towards greater authenticity, will immediately produce a change in the horse with you. How extraordinary it would be to receive that kind of feedback from those closest to us as soon as they recognize the change in us, praise, affirmation, and closeness.

Ever had a friend just be with you when you were going through a tough time? The friend didn’t necessarily have the right words or the solution or anything to give, but somehow just being with you seemed enough. It is hard to stay with those overwhelmingly negative or absorbing feelings. Horses do this for us and each other everyday – they don’t shut out the herd member who is hurting or avoid the one who is more reactive to the environment or shut down from years of hurt or abuse. Each emotion expressed, if truthful is accepted. No judgment, no agenda, simple acceptance of what is. Likewise they don’t reject or avoid our sadness, depressive feelings, frustration or even anger. Somehow they sense that just ‘sticking around’ is the most meaningful thing to be done.

May we do this for each other – accept that the emotions being expressed are real, valid and need to be accepted.

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