Authenticity is an important key to wellbeing and quality of life. As a psychotherapist I recognise the difficulty people experience with not being themselves. Many individuals tend to be overly concerned with how others perceive them. As humans there is a somewhat conscious and unconscious desire to be liked by others or to “fit in” among social groups. These tendencies are common because our survival often depends on our ability to cooperate and interact with others and to avoid being embarrassed or feeling judged.
Being amicable and having the ability to blend in with people; groups and successful relationships for some is very important. However, it can be detrimental to our emotional health if we go too far in our efforts to gain social acceptance. In this circumstance, we can lose our authenticity and instead live and behave in a manner where we prioritise pleasing others and sacrificing being true to ourselves.
When people have difficulty being authentic, they play a role or wear a mask so that others do not see their true self. Many fear being rejected so as a result are likely to display a social self. This social self is characterised by actions and behaviours that are conducive to gaining acceptance from others. Their authenticity is replaced with a false self. What lies at the heart of many internal conflicts is the pain that one is living a life that is not true to oneself.
Whilst working with individuals who want to gain more authenticity, they soon discover that it is nearly impossible to mould themselves in a way that will please everyone they come across in life. In addition to this disappointment they tend to sacrifice their own needs, desires and happiness because they expend so much of their energy into maintaining a false self.
As a therapist I encourage clients and readers to live an authentic life which involves being true to yourself, accepting who you are, and having the ability to pursue your desires. When individuals feel truly accepted for who they are, they don’t need to put on a façade. For some it’s a challenge putting your needs first and understanding that your own happiness is an important priority. There are many who make sacrifices in order to please others or conform to societal norms. It’s okay and acceptable to cooperate with others and maintain healthy interactions with people, but the challenge lies when individuals invest excessive focus on others thus giving up their own needs.
Individuals who are in touch with their authenticity are able to accept themselves and have a greater likelihood of being able to grow, develop, and improve. I believe when you are authentic, you acknowledge your positive qualities and you are also able to accept your flaws. To be authentic is about being able to face up to the truth about ourselves, no matter how unpleasant we may find it. Authenticity does not mean a life free from stress, grief, pain or sorrow however it allows us to live more purposefully. When the confidence and self-acceptance is in place, there are opportunities to engage in aspects of self-improvement. Life can take on a new direction, purpose and meaning when we work towards being more authentic. Authenticity allows individuals to enjoy and embrace their life journey and their relationships with others. So, are you ready to know yourself, own yourself, be yourself in 2019?