We live in a world that makes being your authentic self more of a challenge than it should.
Social media demands we look our best, say the right things and know the latest trends. The irony being everyone is trying to keep up with each other and look perfect when in reality very few people have the confidence and ease to simply be themselves online.
In dollar terms, we value celebrity way above the service to others given by professions such as teachers, doctors and nurses. What or who you look like is more important than who you help. Authenticity is not at a premium.
This fascination with celebrity has always existed in society but in recent times it has been placed front and center.
Thankfully, being your authentic self is still possible in a world where the pressure to be a perfect version of you can be overwhelming.
Being Your Authentic Self – Finding the “Authentic Me”
We put ourselves under tremendous pressure to look good for everyone.
We live our lives trying to meet the expectations of others rather than enjoying life as ourselves. Whether it is peer pressure from friends or the expectations of loving parents, we don’t want to let people down.
The fact is you let no one down if you choose to be your authentic self.
Here are our 8 tips to be an authentic person:
- Choose imperfection
- Know your moral compass
- Kindness, always
- Listen more, speak less
- Open mind, open heart
- Understand your choices
- Be trustworthy
- Align your ducks in a row
Let’s take a look at each tip, one by one.
1. Choose Imperfection
We often present what we want the world to see rather than show weakness, stress or that we’re not coping as well as we’d like. We want to seem perfect.
The sheer relief of choosing to be yourself rather than trying to meet the expectations of others releases you from all kinds of mental shackles.
When you are comfortable in your own skin, with all the imperfections that implies, people relate to you on a deeper level. This is because they now have a relationship with the authentic you rather than the version trying to be perfect.
Give yourself permission to be imperfect and authentic!
2. Know Your Moral Compass
Don’t let others set your moral and ethical compass.
Choose the causes you want to support. Make ethical stands on behavior you will and will not accept from your friends, coworkers and family.
If you’re still trying to work out what it is you stand for, simply find others (e.g., friends, public figures, people in history) who you admire and review their moral code. Learn from them and apply their moral stance to your life and your decisions.
If it helps, buy a journal to write down your thoughts and what you’ve learned from others. This exercise can help clarify your thoughts.
3. Kindness, Always
“Kindness” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as:
The quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality
When you are prepared to consider the needs of others and demonstrate you care, at the risk or rejection, you tap into your authentic self.
You worry less about how you look, and you think more about “how can I help?”.
4. Listen More, Speak Less
Sometimes we feel the need to talk, express our opinion and judge people. Some people live exclusively like this. They imagine they are expressing their true self and letting everyone know who they are.
This could be described as “Everyone is entitled to my opinion”
The challenge with this thinking is that when we’re talking, we’re not able to listen.
When you choose to listen, you begin to understand and relate to people in a much deeper way. You connect with them on an authentic level.
This is totally different to the level achieved when a group of people simply “talk at each other” rather than “with each other”.
A conversation requires a listener and a talker. Choose to listen more often and you’ll begin to engage with friends, family and coworkers in a more authentic way.
5. Open Mind, Open Heart
Acceptance of yourself and others is at the heart of being your authentic self.
It is not anyone’s place to judge others. Judging others only closes your mind and makes you fearful of judgement yourself.
Accept we’re all different and each on our own journey. If you do that for others they will reciprocate. They will be far less likely to judge you.
You can’t control what others think and say but being more accepting of others will see this behavior returned.
Practicing an attitude of gratitude is way to accept the world and accept yourself.
People will accept you and your authentic self.
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6. Understand Your Choices
The more you understand about your own choices in life, the more you can explain yourself to others. This helps you communicate authentically as you have taken the time to better understand what makes you tick.
It’s fair to say that we spend our entire lives trying to understand why we do what we do. From the partners we choose, attitudes to work, taste in fashion and everything else in our lives, we have our reasons for doing what we do.
We may not understand all our choices in life. However, attempting to understand as much as we can helps us get in touch with our authentic self.
It gives us the self-knowledge to engage with the world in an authentic way.
7. Be Trustworthy
You need to embrace integrity and trustworthiness at the core of your being.
People who cannot be trusted are not seen as authentic. They’re seen to be hiding something or holding back.
When people know you are trustworthy, they see a side of you they recognize as authentic. If your word is your bond you will attract worthwhile and lasting relationships as your friends know you have their back.
Trust is a 2-way street. To be authentic you need to trust others.
This can make you vulnerable to deceit but in turn you learn who to trust and who your true friends are.
8. Align Your Ducks in a Row
You need to line up your ducks in a row. What do we mean by this?
You need to be authentic all the time. It’s not a behavior to be taken when it suits you.
Take stock of all your thoughts, beliefs and behaviors and line them up in a way that represents you and you alone.
Act in accordance with these thoughts, beliefs and behaviors to present the authentic you to the world.
Be congruent with what you believe and how you engage with the world.
Being your authentic self is not the easiest path to take. It’s not meant to be.
Those who choose to strive for an authentic life are rewarded with a life full of deep relationships and meaningful experiences.