“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Who are you? What are your beliefs and values? If you can answer these questions, you’re on your way to living an authentic life. Your beliefs and values must be aligned with what you say, think, and do. Creating authenticity sounds simple, but this is only the first layer of the onion. To be authentic, you have to know what it means to you.
Do you know what authenticity is for you? In other words, do you know what your real values and beliefs are?
Trust in Who You Are
The most powerful person you can be is not who someone perceives you to be. It’s not what others want you to be. Your power comes from knowing who you are and owning that. Letting people in is the most vulnerable aspect of yourself. Not hiding behind what you think other people want to see.
Authenticity is Vulnerability and Power
It sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it? How can authenticity be vulnerable and powerful? Let me explain. Starting at the core of who you are and accepting that will free you to move past fear. You will move into a whole new world of possibilities beyond your emotions.
Fear holds you back. You feel fear because you don’t want to subject yourself to vulnerability. By doing this, you’ve become the weakest version of yourself. You’ve allowed someone or something other than you to dictate what you can and cannot do.
Being Authentic May Feel Risky at first, But Totally Worth It
Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
In the quest to be authentic, you will be more vulnerable, but you’ll get comfortable there. It’s like jumping into an ocean. It’s cold, uncomfortable but, you adapt.
Only after the pain will you experience the pleasure. I mean this in the literal sense. In fact, your body increases dopamine by 250% once the body has adapted. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical released when we’re happy. Ironically, the very thing that caused you pain is now the source of your happiness. Our bodies can do amazing things. The mind is infinitely more powerful in comparison.
Getting In Touch With Your Authenticity
It takes a conscious effort to discover who you are behind all the societal norms. In addition to society, we also have the influence of peers, parents and other people in our lives. Additionally, takes a conscious determination to maintain the real you.
Adversity, judgment and the fundamental need to belong will test you at every turn.
There’s Only Room at the Top for the Popular Kids, Everyone Else Follows
The common misconception is that you have to follow to be likable. You may think you don’t believe this, but our actions speak louder than words. When was the last time you were vulnerable in front of a stranger?
You don’t have to be like everyone else for others to see your value. We left this mentality behind in high school, but so many people still hold it in their hearts.
The Virtues of Authenticity
In truth, people admire vulnerability and authenticity in you. These attributes are difficult to aspire to by most. An individual who personifies these qualities creates emotional appeal. You cannot achieve this kind of influence by walking a line defined by someone else.
Would you rather build your reputation on a lie? Where you constantly have to remember what is right or wrong? Or would you rather come clean and be free to be the genuine you for the rest of your life?
Authentic people live free of the stress and anxiety of being found out. People never have to discover the real you if that’s what you give them. Consistent and honest authenticity.
I Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone’s Feelings
Okay, I get it. Most people don’t intend to be the cause of someone else’s pain. We see people fighting about who’s right and who’s wrong all the time. Politics and religion are the two fundamental belief systems in our world. We can’t get these right either.
Those of faith and country will continue to wage wars on religion and politics. That is until we as a society see past our perspectives and accept that there are other possibilities. This shift in consensus won’t happen. Still, expressing yourself doesn’t have to come at the cost of others.
There is room for us all in this world. Every opinion matters, every perspective is different. You won’t hurt anyone. As long as you accept that there is more than one perspective and give every perspective, it’s due respect.
Owning Your Values, Beliefs, and Emotions
Learning to be respectful and transparent is difficult in itself but, there’s more. We’re also dealing with the possibility of rejection. The fear of rejection keeps us from expressing who we are. In lack of expression lies even deeper emotional consequences.
There’s no way to remove the risk of rejection while still maintaining authenticity. The truth is, you will lose some people in your efforts.
In the end, this is about finding the right people for you. In business, friendships, and love, the right people will gravitate to you.
The right people will be the most loyal and genuine. These people share your values, beliefs, and perspective. Still, others will appreciate your authenticity. People hold high value for you when you’ve peaked their curiosity.
Smart and Authentic
Having a high IQ is great, but it doesn’t mean people will trust your judgment. If they don’t trust you as a person, it’s difficult to get passed that. Intelligence is a valuable asset but not above authentic connection with others. Connecting your emotions and your ideas compels people to be more accepting of your perspective.
Anyone who is doing something of value will have critics. Perhaps, the only solace you will find in their negativity is this.
Your opinion matters enough for them to give you their time and attention.
As humans, we crave the idealism of perfection. We see perfect people doing perfect things on t.v., and all over social media. In the end, authenticity is about connecting with people. The people who matter the most will become part of your story, and they will be there for you. You are not alone.