August 19, 2018
Authenticity stems from mental and emotional health. It reflects qualities that represent maturity, thoughtfulness, and psychological flexibility. It speaks to an awareness that being true to oneself means being aware of your strengths and limitations, and working to develop characteristics that add to the well-being of others.
AUTHENTICITY IS NOT:
Telling it like it is. Inauthentic people tend to say: “I tell it like it is. That’s just who I am.” I bet you’ve heard someone say that, right? That’s my signal to run the other way. ‘What it is’ changes based on the perspective of the person having the opinion. The operative word is opinion.
Baring your soul to anyone who will listen. Inauthentic people tend to dump their brains. When was the last time you wanted to hear every last detail of your barely acquainted neighbor’s relationships with his wretched and ungrateful family, friends or co-workers?
Judging others. Inauthentic people tend to treat their opinions as facts. I was recently with a few friends and we could hear the folks at the next table assessing all of us. That was pleasant! I knew a woman with dementia who did that — she had an excuse.
Having all the answers and offering them. Inauthentic people tend to struggle with expressing emotions so they talk about what they think they do know about – everything. They are often referred to as know-it-alls.
In head/out mouth communication. Inauthentic people tend to be on auto pilot which often results in having zero ability to filter their thoughts.
Unkind or thoughtless behavior. Inauthentic people often use hostile humor and then try to convince the other person they’re too sensitive. Authenticity is not a license to stop being accountable for the well-being of others.
Lack of self-awareness. Inauthentic people tend to spend a lot of time on the defensive with others. When we have little self-awareness we don’t understand our own motivations, much less bother to check ourselves, or understand the motivations of others.
Realizing that there is no ‘telling it like it is’. Situations are always more complex than they appear on the surface. Authentic people understand that they are offering an opinion that is limited to their own history and experience.
Using discretion in what, and with whom, we share information. We have different degrees of closeness with family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. Being sensitive to the reality of the degree of intimacy we have with someone determines whether or not it is appropriate to share our innermost thoughts and secrets.
Acceptance of ourself and others. We all judge 24/7. We judge the color of the carpet and whether or not we’re pleased with the temperature. Authentic people have learned to take their judgments less seriously because they realize they are opinions or ideas, not facts.
Being objective and aware of the complexity of the human condition. The current divisiveness (which incidentally is not a new phenomenon in our country) is a great example of two sides thinking they have ‘the’ answers. I get excited thinking about improving my skill in talking with someone objectively, with the intention to learn something new, rather than prove I’m right.
Being thoughtful. Staying away from hostile, sarcastic and humiliating humor. Being attuned to the sensitivities of others and attempting to temper honesty with kindness.
Working to increase personal self-awareness. Think of authenticity as the power to say yes to the fullness of ourselves. It is the opposite of perfectionism. It allows us to let go of the illusion that with self-control we can sustain a perfect life. When we are authentic we can use all our experiences, good and bad, as opportunities to learn and grow.
Authentic people tend to stand out from the crowd in a unique way.
I hope you’ll take a moment to Identify and explore one of the characteristics of authenticity that might shift your relationship with yourself, others, and the world to bring you home to your best self.