The world around us makes it hard to get a handle on our real identity. We're encouraged to project a fantasy, ideal self on social media, and to spend more time maintaining that than we spend on getting to know who we really are.
It turns out that this has real, negative consequences – not only are we less likely to be happy, but we are also less successful when we don't have a clear identity. But what we can we do about this? How can we find and become our authentic selves?
Our goal in this article is to help you think about becoming your most authentic self. To set the stage, we'll look at why it's important to be authentic, and then we'll move on to explore four things you can do to embrace who you really are.
Finally, we'll reflect on how being authentic makes it possible to manifest your dreams at an increasingly faster pace.
Let's start by asking why being yourself and embracing authenticity is so important. Firstly, knowing yourself is an invitation to live freely both internally and externally.
In your social interactions, you don't need to think too hard about what to say – you can simply share how you feel and what you think.
Meanwhile, in your inner life, you can embrace your real experiences and feelings without self-deception or self-justification.
You're left with a lot more energy, and you're also more likely to get to know others in a meaningful way.
Plus, you'll use your resources to pursue the things you truly care about, rather than pouring your time into being a way that others fantasize that you are, or want you to be.
In contrast, living a lie brings nothing but misery. You won't always know why you don't feel good, however, if you haven't done much self-reflection.
You might find that you just never feel quite “right” – instead, you feel like something is wrong like your life isn't really your own.
When you're not being authentic, you can't feel truly close to others, and this disconnection and loneliness eventually erodes mental health.
Plus, inauthenticity requires wearing a kind of costume whenever you go to work or socialize, and this just takes so much energy. It's vital then, to stop lying to yourself.
However, if this all sounds familiar, try not to be too hard on yourself. There are many different experiences that can lead you to be inauthentic or deny who you are.
For example, many people who lie to themselves remember being told they were “wrong” or “not good enough” growing up. When we get this message during our formative years, we learn that we need to pretend to be someone else if we're going to receive love and kindness.
We also carry shame underneath this mask, knowing that anyone who seems to love us doesn't really love us – they just love a projection.
Lying to yourself can also come in phases throughout your life, even if you grew up in an empowering and supportive environment.
For example, if you lose your job or go through a tough breakup, you might mistakenly think that reinventing yourself is the key to success. In truth, the only happy life is an authentic one.
With all the above in mind about the importance of being true to yourself, what can you do if you want to learn how to be your authentic self?
Being authentic or becoming comfortable enough to be yourself doesn't simply happen overnight, but there are things you can to cultivate this authenticity. Here are four suggestions.
Before you start showing your true colors to others, it's easier to learn how to be authentic to yourself. In other words, part of figuring out how to be you are done just by reflecting on who you are and accepting that.
One fun exercise to encourage this involves writing down ten of your quirks. We often feel embarrassed about our quirks and habits, but in many cases, they are what draws others towards us.
So, when writing your list, ask: what makes you unique? What makes you proud to be different?
Keep going beyond ten if you like, and – if you feel like it – feel free to add a quick memory of a time someone appreciated each quirk.
Put this list somewhere when you can see it, perhaps by the mirror when getting dressed in the morning. This will help encourage you to be authentic, even if only in your own mind and heart.
When we're not authentic, it's often because we're anxiously trying to conform. As noted above, sometimes someone actually tells us it's bad to be different.
In other cases, we just get a strong message from society about what it means to be likable, attractive, and successful. We all have a tendency to conform – this is described by something called the Asch Phenomenon.
Researchers find that although many of us like the idea of being authentic, we often follow other people's actions – even if they don't make sense!
So, to improve yourself and improve your happiness, practice going your own way. Start by making a different choice in a low stakes scenario, such as ordering a different meal or drink than the one everyone else is getting.
Notice how good it feels to assert yourself, and gradually work up to avoiding conformity in more risky settings. You may get some pushback at first, but you'll probably also attract some admiration.
One way of describing what it is to live an authentic life is just to say that you make a series of authentic decisions. However, to make authentic decisions that reflect who you are, you first have to get to know yourself very well.
One authentic self exercise that encourages this self-knowledge is all about exploring your values. As with the first exercise, all you need to do is make a shortlist.
On it, put ten values you have. Next, put them in order, or at least circle the most important three.
The next step is to ask yourself how much you live in accordance with these most important values.
When did you last do so? When did you last go against the three top values, and why?
What can you do over the coming days and weeks to make it more likely that all of your decisions are in line with those values?
Finally, when you know yourself better it's time to take a closer look at how to be authentic in a relationship. What is an authentic relationship, exactly?
Broadly speaking, it's one in which both parties feel free to be themselves, expressing that self without fear of judgment. To build these kinds of relationships, however, you need to think carefully about the people you encounter.
In particular, you want to make a distinction between “depositors” and “withdrawers” – and go toward depositors every time.
Depositors are people who add value to our experiences, and our lives. They let themselves be vulnerable with us, accept our own vulnerability, and practice reciprocal trust.
They also feel and demonstrate care for us, and invest in our development. In contrast, withdrawers focus on taking.
They discourage us from pursuing dreams because our success makes them uncomfortable, and they are interested only in what they can get – not in knowing us for its own sake.
At this stage, hopefully, you feel like you know more about living authentically and how you can benefit from being your authentic self.
To close, it's worth thinking about how authenticity connects with using the Law of Attraction to try and manifest your dream life.
When you commit to being your authentic self, you start to learn what truly makes you happy. You connect with your core values and live in accordance with your life's purpose.
In addition, your positive and loving attitude toward yourself means that you constantly vibrate on a high frequency of abundance, attracting more and more abundance in your life.
This is dramatically different from living a lie, which lowers your vibration and tends to attract more negativity into your life.