While researching ways to feel more connected in a society where 45% of people report feeling lonely, authenticity emerged as a common strategy for combating loneliness. When there’s a gap between what you’re delivering to others and how you’re actually experiencing life, loneliness and insecurity are sure to follow. Why? Well, when you’re not showing people the real you, you can’t be sure the person is choosing you.
But in a world where so many people are faking it, what does it even mean to be authentic? And how can you use this to be yourself?
“Authenticity means you show your good side and ba d side in a relationship, instead of a curated version of yourself,” explains Sara Stanizai, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
“Many people fall back on old emotional patterns that they learned to keep others happy. But people don’t want the performative version of you. To be truly authentic, we should share the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is an opportunity for greater connection.
When you’re authentic, you show that you have love for yourself and that you believe that who you are is enough. Here are 5 techniques for getting yourself to a place where you can be the same person in every area of life.
1. Know thyself
Being authentic starts with knowing who you are and being in touch with yourself in the moment. Self-reflection is your head-start into an authentic life.
“Authenticity starts in the gut. Can you trust yourself? We all need outside advice and guidance every once in a while, but spend some time alone assessing what would be best for you, your energy, your time, and your interests,” says Chicago-based life coach and writer, Bridget Chambers.
Take the time to get in touch with your wants and needs because: “in the end, you cannot do right by others if you cannot do right by yourself,” says Chambers.
2. Be kind
Authenticity doesn’t mean expressing how you feel in a way that’s hurtful or judgemental.
“Authenticity is a tricky issue,” explains RB Kelly, certified body language trainer. Some people use it as an excuse to treat people badly.
“If you believe your authentic self likes to belittle anyone who disagrees with you and throw things at them until they give up the fight, then you’re not listening to your authentic self – you’re listening to your worst self.”
Instead, you should seek to express your deepest truth in a way that doesn’t lose sight of your ultimate goal: connecting with people.
3. Check in with yourself
When your goal is to be authentic in all areas of life, it’s always a work in progress. Kelly recommends checking in with yourself regularly during and after social interactions.
“When you’re with someone and you’re wondering how to be real with them, ask yourself how much you’re editing. Ask yourself what’s going on in your head that’s not coming out of your mouth,” she suggests.
At the end of the day, take inventory of how you felt and whether you were fully yourself. If there’s a discrepancy, inquire about what it was and how you can show up authentically the next day. This process is also helpful when evaluating personal and professional relationships:
“The answer you find when you look inside will tell you whether you should stay, or run for the hills,” says Kelly.
4. Learn the art of surrendering
In the Buddhist tradition, desire and attachment are considered the root of suffering. Buddhist teachings emphasize non-attachment—and that isn’t limited to material things.
When it comes to being authentic, letting go of attachment to the outcome will have a strong influence on your well-being, says Eleni Kapetanios, life coach and NLP practitioner.
“People are often so scared of what might happen if they show their real, authentic self to other people that they hide it and try to be someone they are not,” says Kapetanios.
“You cannot control what others think of you. All you can do is put yourself out there and feel secure in the fact that you will attract the right people and situations into your life.”
Let down your guard and do what feels natural. Say what you really feel. Remember: Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.
5. Bring your whole self — even at work
Work is one of the hardest places to be authentic — we are typically hired because of our ability to be professional and we are bombarded by written and unwritten rules about fitting into the ‘work culture’. In a fascinating study, Deloitte found that 61% of people hide one aspect of their identity at work. The figures are even higher among women and racial and sexual minorities.
However, authenticity matters in the workplace. As do boundaries and privacy. But when you’re comfortable with yourself, you can be who you are everywhere — even at critical moments of your professional life.
Share your passions and interests with your colleagues. Be honest and own up to mistakes. When you are authentic, your colleagues know they can trust you. By being yourself, you give empower the people around you to do the same.
6. Trust yourself
When you are living in your authenticity, you attract people who are also living authentically. These relationships help build you as an individual and push you towards becoming your best self.
“The word for marriage in Hebrew means ‘fire,’ because relationships are supposed to bring friction and heat,” explains Kelly. “It will test you and refine you, until all the worst parts of you have been burned away,” explains Kelly.
This metaphor can be applied to any relationship between people who are living authentic lives; they help you feel good about yourself and the world you’ve created. They help you perform at your highest capacity. Your business, health, and intimacy all become richer and livelier when your actions are in true alignment with who you are.