It's hard to imagine a world where authenticity is standard practice. The truth is, society has made people accustomed to putting on their 'masks' so frequently that it's accepted as reality.
People crave authenticity; they want authentic products, content, and services that genuinely support them and their goals. But being your authentic self isn't always easy in a world full of phonies.
Authenticity is showing up as your most genuine self and doing what you believe in. But it shouldn't be confused with transparency. Here's how to be your authentic self in a fake world.
Becoming your authentic self has significant benefits to your health, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Personal authenticity facilitates mental health and well-being—offering a sense of purpose and helping you prioritize. Best of all, you'll be in alignment with your goals and dreams.
Real authenticity promotes social interactions and satisfaction, especially with personal relationships. Interactions with close relationships promote well-being because they more easily facilitate genuine authenticity.
Perceived authenticity refers to how authentic someone feels. If someone perceives inauthenticity, this can negatively predict psychological dysfunction measures such as anxiety and depressive symptoms. As a result, this may contribute to one's overall happiness and well-being.
The perception of authenticity versus real authenticity is linked to one's increased motivation to pursue their goals.
Authenticity Vs. Transparency
Sometimes situations require you to be a little less transparent, but not necessarily less authentic. For example, your job requires you to be buttoned up and reserved—yet you are quirky and outgoing. It might not be a blow to your authentic self, but maybe an expression of another version of you— you decide what works best.
The first step to practicing real authenticity is to purposefully align what you say with your actions—doing so despite what may (or may not) be socially or politically acceptable. For example, the possessions you own, the company you keep, and the lifestyle you live should relate to your values.
Authenticity gets even more profound when you consider your thoughts and words. The things you say should be easily identifiable as "you." Whereas transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. Unlike authenticity, transparency is not about the representation of your values or personal brand, but the implementation. You can be entirely authentic, but not entirely transparent.
The one thing authenticity and transparency have in common is honesty. But honesty is not always straightforward. As a society, we've come to pronounce even white lies as acceptable. For instance, when someone asks you how you are, and you reply, 'good,' even though you're not okay is a stab at your authenticity.
Instead, practice good communication by clearly stating your feelings or thoughts. Don't say "I don't need any help" when you'd appreciate the extra hand.
Challenge yourself to answer honestly one time each day for seven days. After the seven days, assess how you feel. Were you more or less authentic to your true self?
The thought of being fearless might feel scary. The truth is, being aware of your fears is a great place to start. When you're trying to become your authentic self, fear will almost always be a roadblock.
The first step to authenticity is to investigate your fears. Do you know why you fear something? Fear is a response to physical and emotional danger. In the ancient world, fear was a means of protection. In the modern world, the stakes are lower but feel oddly incapacitating.
When you feel fear creeping in, instead of partaking in your instincts to invert inwardly, push yourself to adopt a mindset of gratitude. Be thankful for the moment of fear. It acts as a learning opportunity allowing you to develop a deeper understanding of yourself and different situations.
Know Your Values
Having a solid understanding of your values allows you to know precisely how you're motivated; what inspires you and brings joy. Grab a notebook and jot down the top 10 things you value most.
Then, brainstorm how those values may have changed over time. Values will evolve, most likely deepening depending on your life experiences.
Next, note how each value you have is already expressed in your life. For example, if you value courage, are you already showing up with courage daily? If not, how might you instill more courage into your life?
Shamelessly Set Goals
Goals should be significant, and you shouldn't be ashamed of having them. No matter how big (or small) they may be, goals are unique as your genetic composition.
You'll need an action plan to obtain them. Avoid getting distracted from your goals by developing a reasonable action plan so you can stick to them.
First, select goals that align with your values to become your most authentic self. Think about the things you want to accomplish regarding your career, personal goals, or emotional achievements.
Then, decide how you'll track your goals. For some, this might include journaling your dreams. You can also create a vision board. Finally, make a plan to revisit visualizing your goals regularly purposefully.
Do Things You Love
Doing the things you love feels like a no-brainer when it comes to becoming your authentic self. Ironically, you most likely are always putting others first, whether it's your spouse or partner, coworkers, children, friends, and family. Are you taking time to engage in things that bring you unabashed joy?
These things can be anything you muster up, whether it's painting, dancing, running, sleeping, or reading. Whatever brings you joy will help you recharge and reconnect with your authentic self.
Uncertainty is never comfortable and will spark feelings of inadequacy or fear. Remember that uncertainty is an opportunity to dig in and learn something new. Maybe it's a new skill or way to communicate.
What uncertainty is not is an opportunity for you to give up. Embrace the struggles, hurts, or disappointments. Becoming your authentic self requires you to know all aspects of who you are—including the less-than-favorable parts.
Know what makes you happy, and courageously follow the path of your passions—regardless of who is watching (or judging).
Do you love this post? Check out my Everyday Authenticity workbook I co-created with Sarah Jeanne Browne. It's free–download it today.