How can you become the most authentic version of yourself? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jill Uchiyama, M.A. in Counseling, on Quora:

Here's the key to becoming the most authentic version of yourself:

Have courage.

You become authentic when you drop the false sense of self: who you think you are, what you think you ought to be, and how you feel you should behave and act. Discovering who you are is a process of flying free in the face of life. Free falling, in a sense which can be uncomfortable and risky.

Have you ever felt proud of a moment when you, without thinking, responded to a difficult situation effectively with humor, grace, or compassion? You replay that moment in your mind from time to time. Maybe others who witnessed it also remind you of that moment when you really nailed a situation or caused a group of people to laugh. Those moments create gold. They are weighty with an essence. That essence comes from a very special part of us which is the most authentic part.

Authenticity is not something that has to be cultivated. It is already there, beyond the conditioning, the expectations, and the feelings of 'should's. To be authentic means to dare to find out who resides in your own clothing. It is a mysterious part of ourselves because it is not clear how we develop this authenticity or how it comes to be. Perhaps we are born with it. Maybe it is located deep within our DNA. Maybe it is part of our soul.

Whatever authenticity is, we can become more aware of what it is not through conscious reflection. If we contemplate our actions, responses, and feelings regularly, we can cultivate a ground of understanding ourselves in a deep way. Practices such as meditation can definitely help open up those channels. Sometimes it is a matter of just keeping a diary.

Having the courage and the dedication toward finding out how to let go of the mind and all its trappings is a fruitful step toward letting your own true self be heard, first by you, then by sharing it with others.

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