Becoming authentic is a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. It involves being true to yourself, expressing your thoughts and feelings honestly, and living in accordance with your values, beliefs, and personality. An authentic person is genuine, honest, and transparent, and they do not feel the need to pretend to be someone that they are not in order to impress or gain the approval of others.
Authenticity involves being comfortable with who you are, embracing your strengths and weaknesses, and not feeling the need to conform to societal expectations or cultural norms. It also means being accountable for your actions, admitting when you make mistakes, and taking responsibility for your own well-being.
Authenticity is important because it allows individuals to connect with others in a meaningful way. When people are authentic, they are able to build trust and respect with others, which can lead to deeper and more fulfilling relationships. Additionally, living authentically can help individuals feel more fulfilled and satisfied in their lives. As they are able to live in a way that aligns with their true selves and values.
What does it mean to live authentically?
According to Stephen Joseph, Positive Psychologist, and author of Authentic, the person living authentically exists “moment by moment, striving to understand themselves, their motivation, defenses, and conditions of worth, while being aware of their responsibilities and choices.” An authentic life involves following one’s passion and being intimately connected to our natural abilities, strengths, and talents while balancing the expectations of others.
Brené Brown defines authenticity as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
She continues by saying that “choosing authenticity means:
– cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
– exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
– nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.”
To be authentic, we must take off our masks and stop trying to be everything to everyone. We must choose ourselves over what our parents wish for us or what we think our partners desire from us.
Authenticity is about how we approach life, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Living authentically can be challenging because there are so many outside forces influencing us to believe that it is more important to be popular than it is to take a risk and speak our truth. Living authentically is an ideal to aspire to. The goal is to keep striving to do better. We are content to be who we are and for others to see us as ourselves. We may not know our exact path right now, but we will always do our best to follow the road that is right for us, rather than follow the directions others set for us. We speak our truths. But we use our wisdom to understand when it is appropriate.
Mary had always been interested in art, but her parents had pushed her to pursue a more practical career in finance. For years, she worked in finance and felt unfulfilled. One day, she made the decision to leave her job and pursue her passion for art. She went back to school to study art, started creating her own pieces, and eventually opened her own art gallery. Today, mary feels fulfilled and happy knowing that she is living a life that aligns with her true passions and interests.
How to Live More Authentically
According to Zahara Williams, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Ivory Park counseling therapy services in Texas, “The path to living authentically begins when you decide to embrace the journey of self-awareness, intention, and being free from the notion that others have to agree or approve of the choices you make.”
But being authentic to yourself doesn’t mean shutting yourself off entirely to others’ opinions or advice. “It’s a delicate balance between being open to constructive feedback to help achieve growth, but not allowing it to dictate one’s perception of self, their abilities, or the possibilities that may exist beyond what others can see,” Williams notes.
To live more authentically requires spending some time really getting to know yourself through these actions:
1. Self-reflection: Take the time to reflect on your values, beliefs, and priorities. This will help you identify what is truly important to you and to live your life in a way that aligns with those beliefs.
2. Honesty: Be honest with yourself and others. This means being true to your own feelings and thoughts, and being honest with others about who you are and what you stand for. Be honest and transparent in your dealings. People like and are drawn to those they perceive as sincere and genuine and distrust those who are not.
3. Be true to yourself: Avoid trying to live up to other people’s expectations or trying to fit in with others if it means compromising your own values and beliefs. Don’t let others push you into their way of thinking, but also don’t stick to views when you are proven wrong or they no longer work for you. Take responsibility for your choices.
4. Embrace your uniqueness: Recognize and embrace your unique qualities and strengths and celebrate them rather than trying to conform to a standard of “normal” or “acceptable.”
5. Pursue your passions: Focus on what you enjoy and what gives you a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Pursuing your passions will help you feel more fulfilled and satisfied.
6. Be open to growth: Authenticity is not a fixed state, but rather an ongoing process of self-discovery and growth. Be open to new experiences and opportunities, and embrace the changes that come with them. Engagement can be one of the most positive paths to authenticity.
7. Learn to be vulnerable: Open yourself up, and share your story. Though sometimes scary, being vulnerable can be rewarding and a risk worth taking. Start with someone you trust.
By living in alignment, you can feel more fulfilled, satisfied, and happy. You’ll have greater clarity about your goals and values, and you’ll be more confident in your decisions. Remember that living in alignment is a continuous process, and it takes time to make changes. Be patient with yourself and keep working toward your goals.
John had always been shy and reserved, and he struggled with expressing his true feelings and thoughts to others. He would often agree with others to avoid conflict or simply to fit in. One day, John decided that he was tired of pretending and made the decision to start speaking up for himself. He started by expressing his true thoughts and feelings with close friends and family. Over time, he gained more confidence in himself and his abilities, and he started to feel more comfortable expressing himself in social situations. Today, John is much happier and feels more fulfilled knowing that he is living a life that is true to himself.
Why is authenticity important for mental well-being?
Being authentic helps build meaningful relationships. Authenticity allows us to connect with others in a genuine way. When we are authentic, we are honest about our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, which can help build trust, respect, and understanding in our relationships with others. This can lead to more meaningful and fulfilling connections with the people in our lives.
Being authentic can help increase our confidence and self-esteem. When we are true to ourselves, we feel more comfortable and confident in our own skin, and we are less likely to worry about how others perceive us.
Research has explored the role of authenticity in many areas of mental well-being and found that the two are closely related. Studies suggest being your authentic self can:
– reduce symptoms of depression
– improve happiness
– aid in relieving stress
– increase self-esteem
– boost job satisfaction
– reduce anxiety about death
– lower risk of social anxiety disorder
– enhance relationships
Zahara Williams states that suppressing your true self and “disregarding one’s own needs and desires” can also lead to various physical health impacts. These include:
– sleep disturbances
– chronic pain
– gastrointestinal issues
“When you make the choice to choose a life beyond autopilot, the potential for overall wellness and healthier connections increases substantially,” says Williams.
Authentic living can lead to more profound, longer-lasting happiness.
The closer we live our lives to who we are and how we want to be perceived, the more fulfilled and authentic we will feel. The more we can connect to our purpose, core values, and character strengths in our daily lives—home, work, and social life—the more we will show up as real, genuine, caring, and connected to ourselves and everyone around us. To feel better emotionally and mentally, striving for authenticity in all parts of our lives is key.
Remi Gibbs is a certified 1:1 life, career, and self-care coach, podcast host for Conversations on Life, Work and Love, writer, and workshop and retreat leader. You can find more information on Remi, as well as get details on working with her as your coach at www.renovatedrealities.com