What does it mean to be your authentic self?

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Being and connecting with your authentic self.

Being your authentic self means your behavior, traits, and personality align with your values and beliefs.  It means your actions and choices in life are consistent with how you view yourself at the core.

Staying true to who you are has some benefits, like greater self-confidence and better relationships.  However, some people struggle to express themselves openly because being your authentic self might come with risks, like not fitting in with societal norms.

In this blog post, you'll learn what it means to be your authentic self, why it can be hard to be yourself, the importance of being authentic, and 9 ways to connect to your true self.

Your authentic self.

What it means to be your authentic self.

Living a life of authenticity.

Being your authentic self is being genuine, real, and true to yourself.

People who behave authentically are aware of and recognize their true selves.  This feels empowering and liberating because it means you can choose experiences that align with who you are.

Knowing your true self is knowing what your core values and beliefs are.  Your personality and behavior tend to match your core values and beliefs if you are living authentically.

Living authentically goes beyond the roles you were assigned to in life.  If I wanted to be my authentic self, I would have to transcend the roles that society has defined for me.  I'll use my own "labels" as an example:

  • Mom
  • Wife
  • Dental hygienist
  • Health coach

Part of being your authentic self also means that you're somewhat of a non-conformist.  A non-conformist is someone whose behavior or views do not conform to widely accepted actions and thoughts.

Non-conformists have to be comfortable with who they are because it means they're on the outside of what is considered the norm in some instances.  Some people view non-conformity as bravery, while others might see it as strange or even dangerous.

Authenticity and social conformity.

Some studies show that some people feel most authentic when their behavior aligns with certain types of socially acceptable characteristics, usually extroverted, emotionally stable, conscientious, intellectual, and agreeable.

This suggests that authenticity might be subjective because emotions can sometimes be a factor, rather than a person's intrinsic beliefs and characteristics.

A person that chooses to engage in certain experiences because they result in positive emotions, usually fun, contentment, and calmness, can perceive themself as acting authentically.  And they avoid situations that feel awkward, isolating, and uncomfortable.

This may not be consistent with what some consider authentic because the individual is choosing to act according to what society deems as "normal".

In other words, being authentic may feel like a genuine & autonomous experience, but the particular situations may not align with a person's true self.

What inauthenticity feels like.

A person who is being inauthentic is more likely to feel discomfort, deny their emotions, be self-critical, feel fake or phony, be influenced by others' opinions, strive for acceptance, feel unsociable, want to please others, and feel a lack of social support.

Why it's hard to be yourself.

One reason why it's hard to be your authentic self is the tendency to self-monitor.  Self-monitoring is keeping track of and regulating your behavior and emotions in response to the environment and situation.

People who are high self-monitors tend to change their behavior to conform to the situation.  Whereas a person with less self-monitoring tendencies is more likely to behave according to their own needs and feelings.

We as humans are wired to be social creatures because it is necessary for our well-being and to our survival.  If we feel socially isolated, we become more depressed, anxious, and stressed.

People who feel isolated or don't fit societal norms feel different and are seen as different.  This is why it can be hard to be your authentic self because it might mean being kicked out of the group and risking isolation and loneliness.

Naturally, people want to fit in because it means having support, being accepted, feeling loved by others, and feeling emotions like joy, happiness, and contentment.

The importance of being authentic.

Being your authentic self might make you feel like an outsider in certain situations, but it does have its benefits.

The benefits of living an authentic life.

In social media.

Expressing yourself authentically is associated with a greater sense of well-being.  In one example from a study, people who displayed more authenticity on social media were more likely to experience higher self-esteem and a greater sense of belonging than those who didn't.

People who displayed their authentic selves on social media reported feeling happier, more confident, genuine care for others, more trust, more carefree, and more accepting of imperfections and flaws.

People who only showed the idealized version of themself, or their inauthentic self, were more likely to experience internal conflict and psychological discomfort.

In the workplace.

Authenticity at work is important for employee well-being.

If people are allowed to express their values and beliefs at work, they will feel more engaged, think positively about their accomplishments, and have better perception of their work performance.

In relationships.

Authenticity in a relationship strengthens trust and attachment between two partners.  This involves honesty, vulnerability, and the willingness to take risks emotionally.

Other benefits of authenticity.

Feeling authentic increases your sense of power.  People whose values, traits, emotions, and attitudes are in alignment have an enhanced sense of their own power as well as how others perceive their power.

Other benefits of being your authentic self are uniqueness, autonomy, competence, and awareness.

"Authenticity is about being true to who you are." - Michael Jordan

9 ways to connect to your authentic self.

In order to become more authentic, you need to connect with yourself on a deeper level by being honest with yourself and being more proactive.  The following is a list of 9 ways to connect to your authentic self.

1. Become aware.

One way to connect to your authentic self is to become more aware.

Awareness is being in the present moment and also being in tune with your personal world; or your thoughts, feelings, core values, beliefs, likes, and dislikes.

When you're more aware, you're also cognizant of how you experience your outer world; or your actions, behavior, relationships with others, and your interactions with society and everything else on the planet.

One simple way to gain more awareness is to practice mindfulness, which takes time and patience.  Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness, but you can also be mindful while walking, doing dishes, and driving your car.

2. Be assertive.

Being assertive is being confident in your own skin and being your own advocate.

It doesn't mean you're aggressive, rude, conceited, or self-centered.  Assertive people are receptive to others' thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values alongside their own.

One way to have more confidence is to say powerful affirmations to yourself.  An affirmation is a positive word or phrase you say to yourself to uplift, inspire, and motivate you.

It might feel weird to say to yourself, "I am awesome", but with practice, you get used to it and internalize it over time.

3. Find people you can be authentic with.

Meeting new people is great and important for your growth and character development.  But not everyone will get you and vibe with you.  Sometimes you need a safe space where you can be yourself without restrictions.

Having friends you can be your authentic self with is freeing and feels validating.  They're the people that you can show your weirdness to and they will still love you.

They're the ones who will have your back and won't make you feel like you're being judged.

When you find those people, grab a hold of them and don't let go.

4. Step out of your comfort zone.

Stepping out of your comfort zone allows you to explore unfamiliar territory.  Just because something is unfamiliar, doesn't mean it's going to be out of alignment with your true self.

Doing things that make you feel uncomfortable often leads to learning new things.  These new things might be something you actually love to do.

Learning new things is essential to being your authentic self because it creates an opportunity for transition, growth, and transformation.

It allows you to reframe your life and release old, limiting beliefs because when you're not growing anymore, you'll only feel stuck, bored, and discontented.

5. Be honest with yourself.

If you want to be more authentic with yourself, you have to be very honest with yourself.  Being honest with yourself is hard, though.

It can make you feel too exposed and vulnerable.  It can open old emotional wounds or bring to light a side of yourself that you might not like.  And it might trigger old fears, unpleasant memories, and possibly hurt someone else.

Being honest can also be healing, even if it feels painful and uncomfortable at first.  It frees you from the lies you've been telling yourself and others.

For example, if you've got a great job with benefits but you feel miserable, then you need to take an honest look at why you're doing it and if it's still worth it to you.

Honesty is not always easy or simple because you might have others who depend on you so it is not to be taken lightly.  But it serves the purpose of promoting truth, openness, compassion, and inner strength.

6. Write down your core values.

Your core values are the things that you believe in.  They are influenced by society, your surroundings, and what resonates with you personally.

Values are crucial because they influence your behavior, decisions, and personality.  They also help you prioritize the things that you hold near and dear to your heart.

To find out what your core values are, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I love?
  • What are my strengths, talents, and skills?
  • What would I do even if I wasn't getting paid for it?
  • What makes me forget to use the bathroom or eat?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What are my beliefs?
  • What is my dream job?
  • Where do I see myself in a year or 5 years?

If you'd like more help with identifying your values, you can get this free guide.

7. Follow your passions.

Your passions are the things that you tend to gravitate towards just because you find them fun, interesting, exciting, joyful, and pleasurable.

Your job is not necessarily your passion, but it can be and it's great if you are doing something you're passionate about and getting paid for it.

A passion can also be something you like to do in your spare time, like a hobby, a pastime, a project, or helping others.

They're important because they come from your inner, true self.  They give your life meaning and enjoyment and they can even help you find your purpose in life.

8. Define your purpose in life.

Your purpose in life is the reason why you get up every morning.  It's your calling and your mission here on Earth.

Your passion can be your purpose in life but this is not always the case.  I'm passionate about the redwood trees, playing the piano, and gardening, but they're not my purpose in life.

You might think that your job is your purpose in life but this isn't always true either.  Some people can find meaning in their work, even if they are not passionate about the nature of their job.

Your purpose in life is something that is deeply meaningful to you and aligns with your values and beliefs.  It gives you a sense of direction and focus.  And it's the reason behind the things that you do.

Having a purpose in life can help you when you're facing challenging & difficult times, like finishing school, finding a new career, transitioning to a new job, or losing someone close to you.

9. Listen to your inner guidance.

Your inner guidance is your intuition.  It is the "little voice" inside of you that is positive, encouraging, and often guides you when you have nothing else to turn to but yourself.

Your inner guidance can also be that gut feeling you get even when you can't explain why.  Or those synchronicities that happen that are just too uncanny to be coincidental.

Your intuition tells you if you're going in the right or wrong direction.  Or it can tell you to go for something even if you're scared.

Trusting your intuition is not always easy because oftentimes it takes a leap of faith to follow it.

We are so blessed in this modern age of technological innovation, but sometimes it can be overwhelming and even confusing when there's so much information and stuff available to us.

This is why it makes sense sometimes to follow what your inner guidance is telling you.

One of the ways I listen to my intuition is getting in tune with my mind and body.  I simply become aware by scanning my body and allowing my mind to be in the present moment.

Some people are just naturally intuitive but some need a little practice.

If you're one of those people in need of practice, just remember that it takes time and effort to become in tune how your body and mind works.

"Don't trade your authenticity for approval." - Anonymous

Conclusion.

Being your authentic self means acting in accordance with your core values and beliefs, which is great for your self-confidence and beneficial to your well-being.

It feels empowering to be your authentic self because you get to choose the things that align with who you are.  However, authenticity can make you feel like an outsider at times when others don't share the same views as you.

This is why it takes inner strength and courage to be true to yourself.  Some of the ways you can be more authentic are increasing awareness, identifying what your core values are, being more honest with yourself, and finding your passions in life.

I hope you found these tips helpful and insightful on the road to becoming more authentic.  If you have any feedback or helpful tips to add, please let me know in the comments!

Christine Songco is the creator of Third Bliss and is passionate about helping others thrive holistically by finding passion, meaning, and purpose in life. Christine has been featured in WebMD, Authority Magazine, Philips Lifeline, Owl Guru, and The Lifestyle Blogger UK.

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