Becoming More Authentic
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” — Carl Jung
As humans, most of us want to be authentic. We want to be grounded in our own skin. Secure in who we are. Accepting of our strengths and weaknesses. Able to live a lifestyle that reflects our inner values, beliefs, personality, and passions.
Authenticity is generally defined as being true to yourself and acting in a way that reflects your core sense of self. It means that you aspire to be consistently yourself at all times and in all situations—including when you’re alone, around others, and in social environments (Damman et al., 2021). That you act in ways that are congruent with your beliefs independent of what others may say. That you’re grounded in your own values no matter what circumstances come your way.
Not only does being authentically yourself feel good, but a large body of research suggests that it’s highly associated with psychological well-being and life fulfillment. For example, a meta-analysis of 75 studies found authenticity was positively associated with general well-being and active engagement in work and life (Sutton, 2020). Yet, as much as being authentic is good for us (and most of us want to be grounded in our own skin!), truly exploring who we are over the course of our lives and acting accordingly can be daunting.
The great news is that there are ways to develop authenticity. A new study by Kipfelsberger and colleagues (2022) found some aspects of authenticity can actually be learned and practiced. Here are four basic skills that you can start doing today to develop greater authenticity:
1. Practice Observing Yourself.
Becoming authentic means being open to new information about yourself. Each day, take time to observe your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Try to become an observer of yourself. What qualities best describe you? Your likes and dislikes? Your personality?
2. Explore and Identify Your Values.
To be authentic means you know your most cherished values—because it’s these very characteristics that should be driving your actions with intentionality. So, explore and identify your core values. Do you value independence? Loyalty? Family? Honesty? Make a list of what matters most to you right now.
3. Look for Inconsistencies in Your Choices.
To be really authentic, your thoughts, words, feelings, and actions should match. So, how are your values reflected in your choices? Are there ways they aren’t reflected? Are there times when your actions don’t match what you claim to stand for? If you notice an inconsistency between what you say, how you feel, and what you think, pause and try to make your values and choices congruent.
4. Build Your Self-Esteem.
The better you feel about yourself as a person, the easier it will be for you to be yourself no matter what situation you find yourself in. This also allows you to admit your faults and mistakes without becoming paralyzed by shame or guilt. To tolerate people not liking you, criticizing you, or even rejecting you because who you are isn’t coinciding with who they are. So, practice appreciating the wonderful things about you. When you fall short of how you’d like to be, remind yourself that life is a big learning experiment. The goal isn’t to be perfect—it’s to learn from perceived mistakes so you don’t repeat them again.
The Naked Truth Is This: Over the course of your life, you’ll likely encounter innumerable situations that challenge you to look in the mirror. These situations lead you to ask: Who am I? Why am I reacting this way? Is this who I want to be or how I want to live?
Although many of these situations are difficult, they also offer you a profound gift—the ability to become more authentic. Or, as was said so eloquently by Carl Jung, the opportunity to become who you truly are. To help build authenticity, observe yourself, look for inconsistencies in your beliefs and choices, and work on building your self-esteem. People will appreciate your honesty, and you’ll feel more grounded in your own skin when your internal world matches your external behavior.
Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D., ABPP
Note: This content is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. I cannot respond to personal requests for advice over the internet. Best on your continued journey.
Image Source: Source: Andrea Piacquadio
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