I recently completed another ten day Star intensive Therapy Workshop here at Kenyon Ranch. It is designed to support individuals to free themselves from old beliefs and patterns which are causing difficulties in their lives. It is actually about “becoming authentic.” At the beginning of each group participants may be nervous, yet looking very put together, a little awkward in a group of strangers. In the next few days with a lot of individual support and acceptance, their carefully constructed masks slip a little and they stop pretending to be “authentically” what they think they are supposed to be according to other’s expectations and old conditioning. As they unravel a little they begin to question themselves. If I am not who am I supposed to be, who am I? What is real?
I remember the conversation between the skin horse and the toy rabbit from the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit:
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
It’s a valuable question. What is REAL? What is authentic?
In the course of therapy people do begin to look a little shabby. Your eyes do not drop out, but old perceptions about yourself and your life begin to fall away and you see things more clearly. You get a little loose in the joints, as you express yourself more freely and release stuck places both in your mind and body. You might even yell or laugh more too. And play! As the Skin Horse says “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become.” Best of all you discover self-compassion. You see that you are a survivor! You pat yourself on the back. It’s time to become a thriver—and be real. It is not about becoming what you are supposed to be to “fit in” to other’s scripts. It is about writing your own. Others may not like your authenticity, but it’s your life. There are people “who don’t understand.”
Just like in the story when the toy bunny encountered real rabbits, he didn’t know how to hop and jump around because he still thought his hind legs didn’t move. He was “too shy to move.” He tried anyway and discovered “He was a Real Rabbit at last, at home with other rabbits.”
The lesson here is it helps to become authentic when you hang out with others who are becoming authentic and do understand. Then you use your hind legs and risk being “real.” You are becoming authentic.