“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
“Authenticity” or “Being your authentic self” is a word and phrase we often hear these days, thrown around constantly by social media gurus and coaches alike. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that philosophy, I think it can get lost in translation at times. Most of us present variations of our “selves” at different times. A particular way we are around family and friends is often much different than how we are around potential clients or strangers. This is quite normal and expected, which can make it more difficult to define your authentic self.
So, why has it become such a fad to market yourself as being authentic? Generally, I assume someone is being authentic with me until they prove otherwise. Some may be the opposite of that and are distrustful until someone has shown to be trustworthy. Either way, the question everyone should be asking is, “Do I show my authentic self?”
Why would a person not want to show their authentic self? Take the quote I referenced at the beginning, “The authentic self is the soul made visible.” That alone is enough for someone to want to hide. Talk about putting yourself out there. We are taught, almost from birth, to put our best foot forward. Let’s face it, we are all works in progress and showing our authentic self would mean showing our faults and weaknesses. In doing that, people will make snap judgments as to who we are without really knowing us. It’s not fair, but it happens every day. So, we have a tendency to put this “better” person forward in order not to be judged in a negative light. We know we shouldn’t worry what other’s think of us, but that is much easier said than done.
What does it all really come down too? Ultimately, it’s about what makes you happy. We are each unique individuals with our own ways of being in this world and therefore will have different ways of being authentic. Furthermore, we are continually learning and experiencing new things as we continue to evolve over time. It’s not just about being honest with yourself, but it’s about being more self-aware and even humble. It’s time to stop, look deep within ourselves and ask some probing questions.
Saying you’re being authentic presupposes that you know who your authentic self is. I’m not sure everyone stops to figure that out. So, I challenge you to find some “me” time, find a nice quiet spot and sit down, grab your favorite journal, and answer the following questions. Some of these may seem easy to answer, but before you do, stop and really give them some thought and make sure you are answering them honestly and not how you think others would expect you to answer them. Over time these answers will change, so it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate ever so often. Take the time to learn about yourself again and find out who your authentic self truly is.
- What are my core values?
- Is my life in balance with my core values?
- What am I grateful for?
- What are my interests?
- Am I currently doing things to fulfill my interests? If not, why not?
- What are my biggest strengths/weaknesses?
- What am I afraid of?
- What is my proudest achievement?
- What is my biggest failure?
- What is my current stress level?
- What am I worried about?
- Who/What inspires me?
- How are my relationships with others (family, friends, etc.)?
- Am I happy with my job/career?
- Is money important to me?
- What is my relationship with myself? Am I happy?
Did you learn anything new? Any surprises or maybe a new direction presented itself?
A better understanding of your needs, desires, failures, and values can be very powerful. This is what makes us who we are. If you don’t like it, change it. That just comes back to your mindset. You can always change. It comes down to whether or not you want it bad enough to do the work. A better self-awareness is so essential to self-improvement. Figuring out who you want to be is half the battle. Then it’s just a matter of doing what it takes to make it happen. Figuring out who you really are could help you become more comfortable with your authentic self and therefore more comfortable presenting it to others.
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Letting Go of the Perfectionist Mask by Sandi Mitchell
- Finding Your Voice And Give Yourself Permission to Use It by Judy Hoberman
- Meet Yourself Where You Are: Mourning My Former Self by Lauren Kwedar Cockerell
- Finding Yourself in the Chaos by Christie M Eckler, LMSW, CFRE