Authenticity is the quality of being genuine, real and true to yourself and having congruence between your beliefs, values and actions. Being authentic is important because it helps with all aspects of our lives from forming healthy relationships, to being trusted at work, to making our children feel safe. Here’s how to make authenticity one of our five a day.
- Objectively observe your behaviour. Everyone has an authentic and adaptive self. Your adaptive-self is perhaps interested in fitting in, whereas your authentic-self prioritises living according to your own set of values. If you allow your adaptive-self to dominate, you run the risk of appearing inauthentic. Identify instances where you have allowed your adaptive-self to take over and felt like you had an unauthentic response, perhaps when you were new to something, under pressure or felt nervous. Notice it and then let it go so you can adjust your response next time.
- Define your values and beliefs. Having a clear set of personal values and a way of life that is meaningful to you enables you to live more authentically. Notice the qualities evident in the people you admire the most and explore your own values by considering what is important to you and go from there.
- Be kind to yourself. The first step to being authentic is to be kind to yourself and accept yourself for who you are. Being unkind to yourself serves no purpose and often enables other people to be unkind to you too. Know you are good enough and show gratitude can help put your life into perspective and to maintain a positive mindset.
- Be honest. Telling white lies out of convenience, to save face or as a way to fit in is easy to do, but this can have damaging consequences. Every little lie we tell about ourselves subconsciously validates assumptions that we are not good enough. This behaviour implies that flaws are unacceptable, but no one is perfect. Honesty enables authenticity.
- Understand that this level of self-awareness takes time and we can always improve. Being authentic can require self-awareness and self-acceptance because in reality in life we play many different roles. Strive to improve your authenticity by growing your mindset by being open to learning and developing, at any age. Try mindfulness exercises like meditation and breathing exercises to help self-awareness as well as improve many important aspects of our physical and mental health.