From Dr. David Posen, the bestselling author of Is Work Killing You? and The Little Book of Stress Relief, comes a book about listening to your body, understanding your mind, and making better choices in your life. The following is the introduction from the book.
Kimberly was a shy, quiet eight-year-old girl, not unlike her father. Her mother in contrast was bubbly and gregarious and kept urging her to be more outgoing. She tried to fake it but remembers feeling ill at ease, uncomfortable, trying to be the little girl her mother wanted her to be. Faking it was taking a toll. Kimberly developed headaches that lasted for years without her realizing why. Only in her twenties did she begin to understand what was happening. “I started to pay attention to my own feelings,” she said, “identifying them, acknowledging them, and accepting them.” Shortly thereafter, her symptoms resolved.
How many people find themselves in situations where they’re uncomfortable and don’t know why? They feel like something’s off or not quite right. Then they might start to feel inadequate. Even worse, they may blame themselves and feel guilty. Or they sense what the problem is but keep trying to be what others — especially parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and eventually bosses and spouses — want or expect them to be. Instead of honouring their feelings, they do what they feel is necessary to fit in. But always at a cost.
I’m a pretty fast skier — but not as fast as my older brothers. For years I tried to keep up with them, but it was more stressful than fun. Finally, I got some sense, gave up, and just skied at my own pace and met them at the bottom of the hill. When I accepted my own rhythm, my own comfortable speed — still pretty fast — it was exhilarating and I loved it.
A friend of mine came from a family of lawyers. He was expected to follow in their footsteps. He reluctantly complied and went to law school — which he roundly disliked. Finally, he decided to do what he wanted to do. He left law school, went to teachers’ college and began a teaching career — which he soundly enjoyed.
Journalist Arianna Huffington tells the story of being sleep deprived for years because there were so many important things she wanted to do in her career in addition to being a mother. Sleep wasn’t high on the list. It finally caught up with her when she collapsed in her office, hit her head on the desk, and broke her cheekbone. That was the wake-up moment for her when she realized the importance of slumber. She started getting the sleep she needed and became a whole new person. Now a passionate advocate, she started what she calls the “Sleep Revolution.”
“I’ve always expected myself to be a really good baseball player. I feel at times I chased the numbers. I wanted to be the power guy . . . I was searching, trying to be somebody I wasn’t and I feel like . . . I’ve gotten back to the guy that I always was, just competing and trying to be a good baseball player on both sides of the ball.”
— Justin Smoak, 2017 American League All-Star First Baseman
One of my patients worked in the accounting department of a company. When he was told to fiddle with the numbers in order to make them look better, he felt uncomfortable and lost a few nights of sleep, tossing and turning, wondering what to do. He finally decided that he couldn’t live with himself if he went along with the plan. So he quit his well-paying job because the values conflict he experienced wasn’t worth it to him.
These examples reflect problems that patients have brought to me for more than thirty years of stress counselling. There’s a recurring pattern. As life has gotten faster, fragmented, and frenetic, a lot of folks have become disconnected from who they really are. They’re like round pegs trying to squeeze into square holes. Much of the anxiety and depression that people suffer is a result of this conflict of trying to be what they’re not designed or inclined to be. They’re living lives that feel inauthentic.
This book is about the stress that comes from trying to be what you’re not — and about how to live more in harmony with yourself. It’s about being more self-aware and recognizing these (sometimes subtle) areas of conflict. Encompassing the insights of physiology, psychology, and philosophy, the book will explore five seemingly unrelated realms in which knowing yourself better will allow you to make more informed and realistic choices in life.
If you live in ways that are authentic, congruent, and true to yourself, you can live in sync with who you really are.
From Dr. David Posen, the bestselling author of Is Work Killing You? and The Little Book of Stress Relief, comes a book about listening to your body, understanding your mind, and making better choices in your life.
For over thirty years, Dr. David Posen has counselled patients suffering from severe stress, anxiety, and depression. Over that time, he noticed a pattern. As our lives have become faster and increasingly fragmented, many of us have become disconnected from our true selves. We’ve become round pegs trying to fit into square holes. And when we try to be what we’re not, the result isn’t surprising: we become unhappy, possibly depressed, and in extreme cases, burnt out.
Using a holistic approach that combines elements of physiology, psychology, and philosophy, Authenticity teaches readers to identify, acknowledge, and accept their true selves in order to make better, more informed, and realistic life choices. Drawing on real-life examples from his experience in stress management, Dr. Posen has identified five common sources of anxiety and unhappiness: personality traits, time and speed, sleep, values, and passions. For each of these areas, the solution is surprisingly simple. We must learn to live in a way that is authentic and true to our unique selves; we must live in harmony with who we truly are.