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Health and Wellbeing

11 Dec 2018

Authenticity: what does it really mean and how do I get more of it?

In our busy world full of interactions with others, meetings, conferences, new adventures, newly formed relationships and the social media connectedness that we have, do you sometimes feel like you are not able to be your true “authentic” self?

What is authenticity?

There’s something funny about the way we talk about authenticity. We want to learn authenticity. We want to react authentically. Authenticity is something we want to get. We treat being authentic as something we have, as opposed to something we are. This can actually keep us from developing this trait, since we’re trying to attain something that, by definition, we already have.

Authenticity is more than when someone believes in what they say or acts in a way that is consistent with their beliefs. Authentic people possess a number of common characteristics that show they are psychologically mature and fully functioning as human beings. They have realistic perceptions of reality, are accepting of themselves and of other people, are able to express their emotions freely and clearly, are open to learning from their mistakes and understand their motivations to name a few.

How do I know when I am being inauthentic?

The truth is that we all have moments of inauthenticity. When we act in ways that are not aligned with our highest potential, with our values and with our beliefs, we move further away from who we authentically are. This can result in a lack of fulfilment, lack of happiness, and an overall disconnect from ourselves and others.

How to increase your authenticity

Get to know yourself: As you go around your day to day or try new things, observe how you feel/act in each situation. Learning to be more self-aware and in tune with your emotions in different situations will allow you to recognise when you are feeling uncomfortable or not. Ask yourself: what has the situation triggered? Why can’t I say what I want to say? Why am I feeling like I cannot be “me” in this situation/with these people, what version of myself am I portraying, and why?

Act on your personal beliefs and values. Get in touch with your moral compass and your personal belief system. This includes religious beliefs, moral beliefs, beliefs about the world, people, right and wrong. Begin to live in line with these values and beliefs.

Forget perfection: It doesn’t exist. If you try to be perfect or act in ways that please all people in all situations, you are already being inauthentic. Embrace your imperfection and dare to be a bit vulnerable. You’ll be amazed where vulnerability can take you.

Be present: While someone is talking, it can be tempting to already be crafting the perfect response, or to be thinking about something else. To be present however, means to be engaged, and engaged means to be fully focused on the experience and feeling connected with the individual or activity. Being fully present will lead to being authentically engaged with your world, the way that only you uniquely can.

Find genuine connections: Seek to truly understand the people around you. Ask thoughtful questions, listen intently and spend time with people you share some commonalities with. By developing a genuine understanding of, and connection to other people, you are more likely to feel genuine and your authentic self.

Rajna Bogdanovic - Clinical Psychologist

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