“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.” – E.E. CummingsTweet
What is Authenticity?
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” – Brene Brown
Grijack (2017) further explains that authenticy is the owning of one’s personal experiences, including: thoughts, emotions, needs, preference and beliefs. He states that being authentic is knowing oneself and behaving as your true self.
What Makes Authentic Living Hard?
As humans, we have this intense need to feel like we belong. It is written in our DNA. Our ancestors needed to belong to a group in order to survive and if they were ostracized it was very likely that they would not survive. Although the immediate physical threat is not as severe as it was years ago … connection is still vital to our health.
Therefore, we sometimes go the extreme of being a chameleon. To blend into whatever group we find ourselves in; however, when we do that, we lose our sense of self. We may feel like we are constantly faking it and that no one truly understands us. Even worse, inauthenticity breeds shame.
SHAME – ouch! Now, this is a tough emotion to feel.
What I See in Practice
Time after time I see clients struggle with this sense of loneliness. Even if they have a large support system and are in a romantic relationship.
They often find themselves withholding their thoughts and emotions in hopes to be accepted. Yet, they’re confused and hurt when the people who are important to them continue to misunderstand them.
They continue to react with behaviors and, at times, hurtful comments. This further drives a wedge in relationships with others.
Furthermore, our culture is not the best at being able to identify feelings. Sometimes we even label emotions as “good or bad” when they are, in fact, just feelings. Emotions are there to give us messages; however, we are not always the best at being aware of our emotions. Sometimes, we tend to stuff them in the deepest corner of our being and get stuck in our thoughts as a way to avoid … hence; anxiety, depression, addiction, and the list goes on!
To respond authentically means you have to identify and share primary emotions and true thoughts. Then, people will begin to understand you better and you will feel more connected.
How to Live Authentically
The goal is not to be liked. The goal is to not abandon yourself for the approval of others.Tweet
Authenticity is a practice, and wow, can it be a challenge some days.
Brene Brown (2010) shares 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 strengths and struggle; and
- Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe we are enough.
We are able to more authentic when we start to believe that we are enough. YOU are ENOUGH!
To start being more authentic I recommend you start with the people you trust. Recognize and share those tough emotions.
Instead of, “I’m fine.” Try, “today was a tough day and I’m embarrassed by a mistake I made.”
Sharing our feelings will prevent us from reacting from stress or avoidance and allow us to heal by connecting with someone we trust. More than likely, your trusted person will be able to reassure you. You will feel seen and less lonely.
- Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden.
- Grijak, D. (2017). Authenticity as a predictor of mental health. Klinička Psihologija, 10(1–2), 23–34.