A 3-Minute Reflection on Being Your Authentic Self, and Living an Authentic Life
When was the last time someone said something to you about being authentic? About living your life authentically, or about being your authentic self? Hm.
I’m actually not even sure how common these questions are, yet, I do know that inquiring into authenticity and our authentic-self is important. Yep.
Right, as this is the 3-minute series, let’s get right into the discussion, shall we? Good. Here we go.
What in the world does authentic even mean?
Pronunciation /ôˈTHen(t)ik/ /ɔˈθɛn(t)ɪk/
Translate authentic into Spanish
“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David ThoreauEveryday Power
Last one. Promise.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”Good Reads
― Brené Brown
Alright, now, let’s take each of these quotes, one at a time, and work through why authenticity is so important to all of our lives, your life. Ready? Good. Here we go.
Think for Yourself
Right, so what is good old, well, not old anymore, Socrates talking about here? You may ask yourself, I think for myself every day, that’s self-evident, so? Yet, do you?
What Socrates is pointing to in this quote is the awareness of the realization that oftentimes we think, and make decisions, about our life predicated on something that someone else taught us. Yep. Truth.
Meaning, that in order to live an authentic life, and to be who we really are, we must let go of all of the ideas, concepts, and notions of who we think we are, and create ourselves as we want to be.
What does this mean? Good question.
It means learning to let go of outdated ideas and concepts about ourselves, which were handed to us during our childhood. Yep.
Socialization is powerful. And, unless we do the internal work necessary to let go of these concepts, we will continue to make decisions about our life from these standpoints. And?
We will continue to live a life that someone else has created for us. Yet, it need not be that way. Nope. Being you, the you that you know yourself to be is most important.
In sociology, there is a theory that basically states that part of how we know who we are is by the confirmations we get from others about how we present ourselves (Goffman, 1959). The issue?
When we present ourselves as others would like us to, we are not being authentic. We are being a version of ourselves that other people would like us to be. Not authentic.
What Thoreau is saying is to let go of the need we have, a compulsion if you will, to please others, to be as they would like us to be. Instead, Thoreau is tasking us with being true to the person we know ourselves to be.
Further, to create ourselves again and again, as we want to be, not as someone else expects us to be. That is authentic; and, that is being you.
Alright, so what is Brené talking about here? What does it mean to show up and be real? Right. Here we go.
When we are authentic, we are authentic in all aspects of ourselves. We own and stand in our strengths and weaknesses. Both. We show up just as we are. Important. Why?
Well, to do otherwise is not being authentic. When we are being inauthentic, we are trying to conform to an idea. An idea of what or whom we are supposed to be. And, that is, well, painful. Really.
It is painful to deny aspects of ourselves under the guise that they don’t exist. Whether that is a strength we are hiding or a weakness we are hiding. Either way.
When we hide aspects of ourselves, we limit ourselves, and we limit the context we are in. Why?
Because we are human. We are supposed to have strengths and weaknesses. That’s part of being human.
However, if we perform, for instance, as if we don’t have a weakness, or an opportunity to develop, we are, at that moment, literally limiting our developmental potential. And, guess what?
It’s totally avoidable. We can choose to be the authentic-self we know ourselves to be. Full of strengths and weaknesses. Both fantastic and boring. Both. And, that is perfectly okay. Why?
Because we are human, and being both fantastic and boring, for instance, is a part of our shared humanity. Better to embrace it and be the authentic-self you know yourself to be. And?
When you are true to your authentic self, and you embrace all aspects of yourself, you get to choose how you create yourself next. In each moment, every day. And, guess what else?
When you live your life that way, you are now living the authentic-life you’ve always dreamed about.
Live well. Live authentically.
Citation: Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Doubleday.