How to practice Authenticity

I often hear comments and complaints from clients regarding their hesitations and apprehensions to be themselves, do or say what they want or are feeling, and struggle with being themselves in every area and relationship in their lives. They feel like they have to say what the other person wants to hear, act a certain way, do what others want or are interested in. They put on an act in certain situations, or even have different personalities or “masks” based on where they are or who they are interacting with. If they don’t, they fear that people will not like or accept them.

Then are people really accepting you if it is just a front or an inaccurate representation of who you are? It is a common and normal desire to want people to like us and to feel accepted by others, but trying to be someone else all the time is exhausting and inauthentic, and will not truly bring acceptance or being liked. 

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

Carl Jung

Authenticity is a personality trait we should all strive to achieve and receive in return as well. Consider a non-personal example: when making a significant purchase. Say something name-brand item, most people will consider the options, costs, and places to buy from. People will find out the facts about the item and want to know the authenticity of what they are buying. If only after the purchase was complete, you find out that it was inauthentic, chances are you would be upset and want to get your money back. The same thing goes with people in our lives and for ourselves. Most people want to form relationships with others who have similar interests, beliefs, and who are open and honest. It would be devastating to feel you are getting to know someone, to find out that they were completely disingenuous.

The same holds true for ourselves. If what we are seeking are genuine connections and relationships with people, how can we achieve that if we are not being true to ourselves? Hiding our personalities, beliefs, interests, and opinions, will not attract what we desire. Rather it would attract the complete opposite. In order to attract what and who we want in our lives we have to be authentic. But how? 

First, and most importantly, we need to accept and be proud of who we are. Strengths, weaknesses, positives, imperfections, quirks, opinions, interests, hobbies, everything. Those all form a unique combination and make us who we are. People who truly should be in your life are those who you have a positive relationship with. These are people who will like and accept who you truly are. They will be the ones who stick around or come into your life and stay.  

Second, be cognizant and mindful of when you are being inauthentic to yourself. It can be scary or anxiety-producing to be ourselves, but it is much easier and freeing to do so. Notice when you feel like you are holding back, not being yourself, or trying to be someone else and what is triggering it. Noticing these situations will help you to find the “why” for your actions or behaviors and figure out ways to feel comfortable being true to yourself. Just keep asking yourself, “am I being authentic?”

Finally, just be YOU! There is no one else quite like you in the world and that is an amazing fact of life. As Carl Jung said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Embrace it and show it!

Written by: Colleen Hillman, LCSW

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