Being honest isn’t easy.
“Authenticity” has become a big self-help buzzword over the past few years. People are asking themselves, “How do I live an authentic life?” (Those same people, if they’re being honest, are following that up with “And what does that even mean?”)
Because authenticity is a hard thing to define. We understand that, in general terms, it means living a more honest life. We all have various faces that we put on when we go out into the world — mother, father, friend, employee, colleague, lover.
The quest for authenticity is the attempt to reject all of those pre-written social roles, determining who we really are down in our core and bringing that core person to the forefront on our every-day lives.
To quote Sarah Ban Breathnach, “The authentic self is soul made visible.”
But what is required to live an authentic life? How do we pull it off?
Senior VP of YourTango Experts Melanie Gorman raised those exact questions to a panel of our Experts. In their discussion (which you can see at the top of the page), Experts T-Ann Pierce, Kathryn Foster, Clara Wisner, and Helen Fisher broke down multiple ways that we can bring more authenticity into our daily lives.
You can watch their full comments in the video, but here are 5 choices you can make every day to live the most authentic life possible.
1. You can pursue authenticity.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but living an honest, authentic life is a choice, first and foremost. If you don’t commit to taking the time to invest in your own happiness and self-awareness, you’ll never achieve your goals.
2. You can embrace the idea of “three seconds of courage.”
Three seconds. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to be your most honest self. Three scary seconds where you build up enough courage to finally say and do what you really want. It might be asking for that raise or signing up for a class or simply saying “No” for a change. But if you can allow yourself three seconds of courage in those pivotal moments, it will make such a difference.
3. You can allow yourself to be vulnerable.
If you want to live your life as your “true” self, it means you have to dismantle a lot of the protective shells you’ve built around yourself for your entire life. It will leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable, but if you’re tired of hiding your wants and desires from the world, you occasionally have to take them out of their protective bunkers and let them go outside.
4. You have to try out your “true” self on the people in your life.
A big part of being authentic is deciding exactly how you want to live your life and then trying it out on the people you care about. You might be surprised. They could love the new you OR they could help you course correct and challenge exactly how you’re defining yourself. Regardless, your authentic self is going to have to live in the world, so you have to make the choice to introduce it to your loved ones at some point and see how it goes.
5. You have to choose to respond, not react.
Too often, we get caught up in the cycle of reacting. Someone does something we don’t like, we fire off a knee-jerk reaction, and 15 angry Facebook comments later, we’re asking ourselves, “How did I become this person?” The key is giving yourself enough response time to make sure you’re not reacting in inauthentic ways. Allow yourself to pause, take a breath, think for a moment, and then allow yourself to respond to the world in a way that feels honest to you.
Authenticity is important. We want to feel like we’re bringing our best and truest selves into the world whenever we can.
The key is — authenticity is a choice you make every single day. If you chose to take the time to figure out who you really are, it will be so much easier to embody that authenticity in your life.