In recent years, there has been more emphasis on the idea of authenticity. In fact, the expression of authenticity has become somewhat of a movement, and for a good reason. For so long, people have felt the need to fit into society's standards of beauty, standards of living and career based ideals. All of these standards have inevitably created pressure to behave in society in a specific way. But recently, there has been a push to move beyond society's expectations and be just who we are-our authentic selves. This is especially true in many spiritual circles where people often feel they do not blend in with modern society and seek to do what is in alignment with their true desires. So they may dress differently, refuse to work a normal 9-5 job and engage in activities that are seen as "new age hooey."
The emergence of a movement that inspires people to embrace their authenticity is indeed vital to embodying our unique expression as human beings, but when can this become a problem? At some point, the desire to defend one's authenticity can serve as a hindrance to spiritual growth. This is typically the case when authenticity is attached to one's perception of their identity and when attachment to identity becomes more important than growth. There does come a time when we must be willing to sacrifice who we think we are in order to further our expansion. Many people get so attached to who they are that they are unwilling to release certain habits that are not beneficial, especially those habits they feel will protect them from emotional harm.
You could also see this hindrance as a common pause that happens for many people on the spiritual path, but of course it depends on a person's goals and how far they wish to go.
Spiritual Growth's Influence on Individuality
One thing we might experience on the path of spiritual growth is we may get to a point where our attachment to individuality falls away. This does not mean that we are not still unique with a distinctive way of expressing this uniqueness. What it does mean however is that we
are not attached to our sense of identity to the point where we are willing to aggressively defend it. After being on the spiritual path for a while, we go through several stages. There is the initial stage where we may define ourselves based on our past experiences and what we have been taught by our parents or guardians. After a jarring awakening, we may shed this approach once we start gaining clarity on who and what we really are at that moment. At this point, the question that frequently emerges is, "What is true for me?" Typically we see this idea of "who and what we are" as being fixed. And it needs to be, because the mind needs a linear perspective in order to get from one point to another. This stage usually lasts a while, but as we continue to expand, the Universe may test us based on this fixed idea of who we think we are. So it may cause us to, once again, question those aspects of our identity, just like in the beginning. Certain aspects we retain, and other aspects fall away. Such cycles may repeat themselves over and over again. We are in a sense being purified. The more this purification takes place, the less fixed our sense of "who we are" is. There will still be a sense of affinity towards certain activities, hobbies, foods, etc. You will still know what is right and wrong for you as well as what you stand for, but you may no longer attach yourself to these affinities, because there is a knowing that a person's vastness is fluid and how this vastness is expressed may change based on where we are at the moment.
So What Do We Do?
Be flexible! Look back and see how much you've changed over the years. Know that it's ok to evolve and not be the same person your entire life. You can't know for sure how you'll express yourself years down the line but you don't need to know either. Trust in your own individual process of unfoldment and give yourself permission to be present with who you are now. Being authentic is something that occurs based on the moment and doesn't necessarily cling to a fixed ideal. Also know that attachment to identity is not a bad thing. This article isn't about what you should or should not do or be. This article is simply highlighting periods where attachment to who you've built yourself up to be can cause conflict during periods of spiritual expansion if you aren't willing to let go of behaviors that may not support who you are becoming. Knowing who and what you are is important for maintaining groundedness, and stability and presence but know that who you are today doesn't necessarily have to be who you are tomorrow. Let yourself grow.