Ten Ways to Be More Authentic

I had just gotten into my car when my neighbor in the condo across the court came over to talk to me about the contractor I had used to redo the kitchen and bathroom in my condo.  After we finished our discussion, he asked me where I was headed.  I told him I was going to the pool.  He looked surprised and said, “At 11am in the morning?”  I told him there were 3 people cleaning my condo and it felt crowded.

My answer was the truth but why did I have to explain that.  What is wrong with going to the pool at 11am?  Is there an unwritten rule that that is too early?  The pool was open and there were a few people there-not many.  I guess the majority go to the pool in the afternoon.  Maybe to fit in I must go in the afternoon too?

What do you do to fit in?  As youngsters we all want to fit in and we find groups that accept us because we are like them.  Sometimes we want to be part of the group and so we adjust our behavior to meet the group norms.  We adapt to fit in.  After years of adapting it becomes difficult to determine what we really want and who we really are.  Our authentic self is buried somewhere within us.  To become more self-aware we need to find our true self.  How do we do that?  Here are 10 ways to begin to uncover who you really are.

  1. Observe yourself.  See if you can identify which behaviors are authentic and which are adapted.  Maybe you feel uncomfortable or dishonest when you adapt.  Notice the difference between when you are feeling truthful and authentic and when you are uncomfortable because you can’t be honest. 
  2. Explore your values.  What is important to you?  Look for ideas and causes that you really care about.  As you observe yourself, see if you have an opportunity to express and work on the ideas and causes you care about.
  3. Have compassion for yourself. Notice how you talk to yourself.  Would you talk to others that way?  Most people are hard on themselves and call themselves all kinds of names when something doesn’t turn out well for themselves.  If you have that nasty voice in your head it can zap your confidence and make you feel you are not good enough.  Everyone has something unique to contribute.  As you work to become more authentic look for your uniqueness and celebrate it.  Be kind to yourself.
  4. Examine your beliefs.  Most of us have beliefs that we hold and we act on those beliefs as if they were true.  Some may be working for you but others may hold you back.  I have always had the belief that if you work hard you will be successful.  Somehow that got transformed into you must work hard to be successful.  When I had something to do that I didn’t have to work hard to do, I felt less confident and often failed even though I knew exactly what to do.  The belief stopped me from being successful. 
  5. Look for ways to improve yourself. Develop a growth mindset.  This will help you with your exploration and observation. In order to be authentic, you will need to be persistent.  Improving yourself means focusing on what is important to you and growing in the areas that you care about. 
  6. Listen to your intuition.  Your intuition is your inner wisdom.  It can guide you to be your authentic self.  Sometimes we tend to discount that wisdom which can come as knowing or inkling or nudge.  This has been a hard one for me.  I have often ignored my intuition.  You must be quiet and in the present moment to clearly hear your intuition.  Then you must respect that it your truth.
  7. Make decisions consciously.  Sometimes we are forced to make quick decisions.  Even though this feels like you don’t have time to make a careful decision, you do have time to make a conscious one. Being conscious of the decision you have made will allow you to prepare for the outcome in the future.
  8. Watch for discrepancies between your actions and your values. If you are not working on something that is important to you, your actions are not supporting your values.  There may be times when you are working on something that conflicts with your values.  That will make you very uncomfortable and unhappy.  It is harder to detect the conflict when you are working on something important to others and interesting but not important to you. Asking yourself periodically if your actions align with your values will help you to stay on track.
  9. Tell the truth. It is impossible to be authentic if you lie to yourself and to others. Lying to save face or embarrassment means you are not accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all. Accept yourself as a unique human being.
  10. Understand that authenticity takes time.  Getting to know yourself is a lifelong process.  As you learn and grow you will begin to see behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve you.  It takes time to truly understand yourself so that you are more aligned with your authentic self.

This article is based on an article in Psychology Today entitledDevelop Authenticity:20 Ways to Be a More Authentic Person.

Interested in becoming more authentic?  If you are interested in working with a coach, I’d welcome the opportunity to talk to you about it.  Please send me an email at asparker@asparker.com.  We’ll schedule a time to talk.  You can decide if you are ready for the challenge.

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