Did you ever call anyone a phony? Or say about a colleague that they are "full of it?" And what about someone who "wears their heart on their sleeve" and by the time you get away from them you are drop dead depressed?
Authenticity, like any high level skill needs to be mastered.
First, what authenticity is not.
It is not blurting out what you are thinking at any given moment. That type of behavior should have stopped when you were four and you told Uncle Arthur how funny he looked without hair on his head. It is not about giving your opinion "in the raw." It is not about telling someone your opinion, even if you are right, unless they asked first.
Authenticity is about telling the truth without spilling your guts. It is a disciplined art form that takes years to learn and practice, practice, practice.
Here are the questions. Answer yes or no:
- Do you share your fears and struggles openly?
- Do you need to prove that your point of view is correct?
- If someone asks your opinion do you tell them everything you are thinking?
- Do you admit when you make mistakes, without judging or blaming others?
- Do you apologize more than once if you are shown to be incorrect?
Authenticity requires a high degree of self-knowledge and self-awareness. It also means being able to make unpopular decisions without attacking others for their perspectives. When you meet authentic people you can feel it almost immediately because they are not in a popularity contest. They are there to interact and share.
Becoming self- aware is a long and deep process. It means looking at the beliefs and values that were given to you as a child, from your family and from your culture, and deciding what is outdated. It takes courage and determination to go against the tide, to speak up and stay steady when you are told to behave, be good, or to be quiet.
Here are five ways to create an authentic life:
- Know what you value and want: Take the time to go off alone and sit with your thoughts. Look at what brings you joy and what you are doing merely to please others. It is fine to please others, so long as it is not at the expense of your own moral code of ethics.
- Learn to keep an open mind: Be able to ask questions rather than just give opinions. Read, research and explore opposite ideas before you become too attached to your own perspective.
- Listen with a desire to be inclusive: Remember that all life is interactive and that when you see the way to hold out your hand to others, no matter how different they are to you, there is always something helpful to learn.
- Stop the imposter syndrome: Make sure you are not copying the mannerisms and words of someone else to keep you looking good. Find your own way of expressing yourself. Dress to make you happy and go on vacations that are not "the right place to go" unless you really want to go there. Ibiza is not for everyone!
- Embrace your discomfort: You don't have to indulge in talking about yourself, however, admit if something makes you feel awkward or scared. You will be loved for your candor.
There is a book from forever ago called, When I Am Old I Will Wear Purple, and the best sentence for me is, "I will sit on the sidewalk eating watermelon and spit the seeds in the street."
That may not be your version of authenticity. Think about it. What will you do to break out of the mold around you and be free to be who you really want to be? Ah, authenticity! It feels good just to think about it.