Being “authentic” sounds positive in the arena of accepting oneself and living true to one’s values, and easy in the context of “just be yourself”, but what is the reality of being authentic, without tailoring speech to manipulate how others may feel? While some may say that doing so is only polite, at what degree of political correctness is the essence of the truth lost in trying to avoid disapproval or gain acceptance? And when we lose the truth as we know it, once it is watered down with diplomacy so everyone still feels good, what is the price to self? Although these habits are common, they are not authentic behaviors, but influenced by our need for people to accept us or at least not disapprove of us. The deeper the need for acceptance, the less authentic we tend to be.
So, what is the benefit of being authentic if people may get offended or disapprove of me? Why take the risk of exposing myself as I truly am?
Four payoffs of authentic living that make it worth it for me are:
- I am not involved in real-life experiences that require I pretend. That is what my inner writing life is for. I no longer betray the little girl who didn’t fit in by wearing a mask. Instead I parade her in front of everyone as an act of self-acceptance. I am not afraid to be vulnerable because everyone is vulnerable and feels like a hot mess at times.
- By accepting myself I give others unspoken permission to be real, which makes people more interesting and relationships more fulfilling.
- The more authentic we act, the more self-esteem we acquire by not subordinating ourselves to the opinions of others. Self-esteem begets more self-esteem until we are truly comfortable in our own skin.
- Being compassionate and kind begins with acceptance of self. We can then move on to accept others as they are rather than who we want them to be, saving ourselves a heap of disappointment. I find if I am not authentic, I judge others just as harshly as myself.
“Most people believe that vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. Are we willing to show up and be seen?” – Brene Brown