There are those who always seem to have the ‘right’ answers and say the ‘right’ things — and yet we get the sense that they are not being their ‘real’ selves. It feels like they’re telling us what they think we want to hear. I’m often curious to find out what they really think and even more curious to discover the person behind the mask they’re wearing.
As specialists in rites of passage, celebrants and ministers are being entrusted with something that is pivotal to a person’s life and emotional wellbeing; whether that be by helping a couple to celebrate their wedding day; or planning a ceremony that celebrates the introduction of a new child to the family; or indeed, by helping a family during the critical stages of their grief and bereavement, by planning a funeral ceremony.
A celebrant or minister’s authenticity and congruence within this process is crucially important and has far-reaching implications.
The Psychologist, Karissa Thacker states that, “People follow authenticity. They are searching for it.” I think Karissa makes a very interesting point. We see it on reality TV and amongst the rise and fall of politicians; mediocre talent rising to the dizzy heights of fame and fortune because the public value their authenticity and the popularity of a politician rests largely on their perceived genuineness. People in leadership are among the most scrutinised. Letting go of the perfect public image can be difficult for them. However, authenticity matters far more because it is closely related with trust. Needless-to-say that establishing trust is paramount in the work that we do.
Being authentic is about embracing our weaknesses and allowing people to see our vulnerability. It is also about allowing our own little quirks to be very much a part of who we are and the service we provide. People will be happy to work alongside us and our own imperfections, so long as they feel safe. People feel safe when trust is established. Remember, no one is perfect. It is a pointless exercise trying to convince others that we are. The world will value our authenticity a great deal more.
The ‘Wounded Healer’ is a term created by psychologist Carl Jung . The idea suggests that a counsellor is more able to treat a patient because the analyst himself is "wounded.” Empathy paves the way for a more in-depth journey of knowing and relatedness. Our incompleteness becomes common ground on which we can successfully work together. I think this concept is easily translated in the work that we do as celebrants and ministers.
Authenticity will always be seen for what it is. It will always be honoured and celebrated. I am convinced that it is the difference between doing what we do well or doing what we do poorly.
Offering an authentic service encapsulates everything about who we are as human beings in our own right. My Celebrancy is my Celebrancy. I offer me. I have not lived a faultless life. I do have my own anxieties, beliefs and faults, just like everyone else. But I offer them with a listening and discerning ear and a sensitive and compassionate heart. I have no desire to be like anyone else. Celebrants and ministers might follow similar practices and guidelines, but when all is said and done, it is down to who we are.
I describe my service as being authentic. By this I mean that I genuinely just want what is best for you and I want to help you achieve that by being just me. In my humble opinion, what better credential is there?