Now that we have completed the discussion of the five dynamics/stages of affective integration, we move along to the next five dynamics/stages in pursuit of what I call cognitive integration. Those who are new to the Blog may wish to review a few of the early posts where the processes of affective/cognitive integration are discussed in detail.
For now, let it suffice to say that affective integration refers to the healing of emotions and balancing of feelings, while cognitive integration refers to the correction of thought distortions and the optimization of thinking processes. This means that when we are affectively integrated we experience feelings and emotions in a balanced and regulated manner, and when we are cognitively integrated we are able to think and behave realistically and effectively.
The first dynamic/stage of cognitive integration is indeed a powerful one, and it is clearly related to the process of the preceding stages. It is known as Authenticity.
Sit for a moment and consider what you feel and think as you entertain this word: Authenticity. What do you feel with this word? What thoughts arise? Many might report that the word brings feelings of empowerment and self-confidence as well as thoughts of being natural and real. All of these would be correct.
For our purposes, Authenticity refers to the experience and attainment of a deep sense of self-acceptance and an ability to live and behave according to our own sense of identity. When we are authentic we learn to transcend feelings like self-doubt, social anxiety, and even certain phobias. We also evolve beyond behaviors such as avoidance, procrastination, and “people pleasing.”
Ultimately, Authenticity is an invitation to personal freedom, not necessarily to do whatever “feels good,” but to do whatever IS GOOD for you and for others. Through it we come to experience personal acceptance and strength that allows us to move forward with the personal agendas of our lives and to find our places in the service of society and our world. Allow me to give a very personal example.
Before returning to graduate school to become a Therapist I worked in the military, municipal, and private sectors of law enforcement. While I did manage to become rather successful in these endeavors, something was seriously missing.
Because of cumulative trauma, I began to gravitate towards fields like psychology, philosophy, and theology. It was here that I found my truest calling as a Therapist, and I have been here ever since. It is the most authentic identity and career that I have ever had, and it works.
Consequently, I welcome each Reader to consider the following questions: Do I have a clear sense of who I am? Am I living according to this deepest sense of self? Am I experiencing a feeling of Authenticity within my current life dynamics? What might I need to be able to get there?
Now, begin a process of defining and refining how you might become your most authentic self, and pursue it with all that have and all that you are. Now is the time.
I leave you with this thought:
“All my life I searched for something REAL and AUTHENTIC, then I realized that what I was searching for was what I needed to become.”