What Makes Authenticity So Hard?

What Makes Authenticity So Hard?

Authenticity. This was a popular blogpost from last June, so I thought I'd share it again.

Authentic cuisine. Authentic clothing. Authentic dating sites.

The word gets used a lot. 

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines it, in part, as being "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character". (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authentic)

We all say we want authenticity - we want it in our relationships, we want it in others and we are turned off by those who don't have it - those who are obviously "fake".

My twisted sense of humor is imagining a dating site that was overt about inauthentic entries. "Please enter a detailed description of who you want people to think you are". 

Living truly authentically in our relationships, in how we do business and even when we look in the mirror, is very difficult. 

We are built to be loved and we are constantly (some more than others) calculating what will get us loved, liked and accepted the most. As a result, we fear the rejection and isolation that can come when we present an aspect of ourselves that someone else doesn't like.

The deep and sad irony to this is that when we modify what we present of ourselves to others in order to be liked we guarantee that the real self won't be liked. We remove the possibility of being loved and accepted for who we are. We effectively seal off the very parts of us that are starving for love and acceptance for fear that we won't get it.

We could have a long discussion here about shame but we will save that for another day.


So, what can we do to encourage ourselves to be more authentic and increase the chance of being more deeply loved?

Small, calculated risks. Stepping just a bit out of our comfort zone is usually more effective than leaping way out of it. Who can you be a little more vulnerable, honest and real with today? What needs and longings could you express to someone in your life today? 

Part of true authenticity is owning our own feelings and not trying to make others feel responsible for them. Here is another pain point. When I'm authentic with emotion it includes acknowledging and feeling emotions that can be unpleasant. (For more on this - go see "Inside Out"! Great movie!)

Journaling is one great way to first be honest with yourself. It's a great place to start regularly increasing your ability to be authentic. 

Seen. Heard. Understood.

Who do you want to see, hear and understand you better today?

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