5 Ways To Nurture Your Most Authentic Self

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How To Be Happy With Yourself & Understand The True Definition Of Being Authentic

Have you ever called someone a phony, or even felt like one? Most of us have, because consciously or unconsciously, we all have a tendency to respect the value of being authentic.

Knowing how to be yourself and model authenticity, is like any high-level skill, it is a disciplined art form mastered through patience, learning and practice, practice, practice.

What is the definition of being authentic ... and what is it not?

The definition of being authentic is being "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character." It is a synonym for genuine, which is defined as, "Truly what something is said to be."

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While being your authentic self is about being truthful, that doesn't necessarily mean spilling your guts. This isn't about blurting out what you are thinking at any given moment.

That type of behavior should have stopped when you were four years old and you told Uncle Arthur how funny he looked without hair on his head.

Openness and honesty are important qualities of a person, but being authentic is not about giving your opinion "in the raw", nor telling someone your opinion (even if you are right) unless they ask first.

Being authentic requires a high degree of self-knowledge and self-awareness. You need to be able to make unpopular decisions without attacking others for their perspectives.

Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:

  • Do you share your fears and struggles openly?
  • Do you need to prove that your point of view is correct?
  • If someone asks your opinion, do you tell them everything you are thinking?
  • Do you admit when you make mistakes, without judging or blaming others?
  • Do you apologize more than once if you are shown to be incorrect?

When you meet authentic, true people, you can feel their authenticity almost immediately because they are not in a popularity contest. They are there to interact and share.

Becoming self-aware is a long and deep process. It means looking at the beliefs and values that were given to you as a child from your family and your culture, and deciding what is outdated.

It takes courage and determination to go against the tide, speak up, and stay steady when you are told to behave, be good, or be quiet.

To get you started, here are 5 ways to start learning how to be happy with yourself by creating a life in which you can truly be authentic.

1. Know what you value and want

Take the time to go off alone and sit with your thoughts. Look at what brings you joy and what you are doing merely to please others.

It is fine to please others, so long as it is not at the expense of your own moral code of ethics.

2. Keep an open mind

Be able to ask questions rather than just give opinions.

Read, research, and explore opposite ideas before you become too attached to your own perspective.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Start Being Your Authentic Self (So You Can Finally Stop Faking It)

3. Listen with a desire to be inclusive

Remember that all life is interactive.

When you see the way to hold out your hand to others, no matter how different they are to you, there is always something helpful to learn.

4. Stop trying to live up to standards set by others

Make sure you are not copying the mannerisms and words of someone else to keep you looking good or to help you fit in.

Find your own way of expressing yourself. Dress to make yourself happy and go on vacations that are not "the right place to go" unless you really want to go there. Ibiza is not for everyone!

5. Embrace discomfort

You don't have to indulge in talking about yourself, however, admit if something makes you feel awkward or scared. You will be loved for your candor.

There is a book from forever ago called, When I Am Old I Will Wear Purple, and the best sentence for me is, "I will sit on the sidewalk eating watermelon and spit the seeds in the street."

That may not be your version of authenticity. Think about it. What will you do to break out of the mold around you and be free to be who you really want to be?

Ah, authenticity! It feels good just to think about it.

RELATED: 10 Things The Most Authentic People Do Way Differently

Dr. Sylvia Lafair is a Change Management Expert whose programs and executive coaching are designed to help decrease conflict and increase cooperation in the workplace.

This article was originally published at Sylvia Lafair's INC Article. Reprinted with permission from the author.