Authenticity is incredibly powerful -- but it's also incredibly scary. Being yourself means you don't have to waste time figuring out (or worse, covering up) your true values and personality. It makes others trust and like you, helps keep you in tune with your gut instincts, and helps you be more resilient in the face of adversity. Science even suggests authenticity could be the cure for perfectionism.
But on the flip side, being yourself means being vulnerable to criticism and risking real failure. And because of that, while few would argue with the importance living an authentic life, many of us still struggle to do just that.
How can you inch towards being your true self more fully? On Psychology Today recently, psychologist Guy Winch suggested the trick to a more authentic life is developing certain habits. Cultivate them and you can will come to live more authentically. They include:
1. Authentic people respond to internal rather than external expectations.
"Genuine people spend time thinking about and exploring their own beliefs, ideals, standards, and expectations because they rely on the answers to these questions to give them direction and purpose in life," writes Winch, though he warns that figuring those out can often be difficult, especially if they conflict with the ideals of others around you. But if you're hoping to live a more authentic life, this is work you're going to do need to do.
2. Authentic people aren't threatened by failure.
Fear of failure is a big reason people fail to be genuine, Winch explains. "The reason most people follow conventional routes is they are supposedly 'proven' and 'safer,' and therefore more likely to yield success," he claims. Therefore, if you're looking to be braver and more authentic, spend time trying to examine and overcome your fear of failure.
3. Authentic people admit their faults.
No one is perfect, so viewing yourself with clear eyes means not only knowing your strengths and beliefs, but also admitting your limitations. "Genuine people are likely to recognize their faults and shortcomings, to accept them, and to take responsibility for their actions as a result," Winch says. So if you want to work on becoming more genuine, spend a little time thinking not only about your unique strengths, but also facing up to your weaknesses. (Here's some good advice on learning to accept or even love your flaws.)
4. Authentic people aren't judgmental.
Want to be less judgemental and more accepting of who you really are? Then start by judging others less. It's all part and parcel of accepting that humans (both you and others) are complex creatures with quirks, talents, and flaws. "Being honest about their own faults and embracing individuality and differences leads genuine people to be less judgmental and more accepting of the people around them," Winch writes.
5. Authentic people speak their mind.
The inevitable consequence of knowing your own mind is speaking your mind -- though there's no need to be rude or overbearing about it. "Genuine people are comfortable presenting their ideas without expecting or needing to convince others they are right," cautions Winch.