“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brené Brown
We all wear many social masks within a day. As we try to adhere to what’s expected of us and strive to be the people we’re “supposed” to be, when do we get to simply be our true selves? Be the person dwelling under the labels from others and the judgments from ourselves?
Freud said we can’t know ourselves as we distort our perceptions to protect our egos. But the fact is, people do a better job of self analysis of pain, mood and skill than even a close friend (although strangers can be a better judge of intellect).
But some modern psychologists say there are ways to tap into truly knowing yourself. These two specifically:
Mindfulness - An article by Erika Carlson of Washington University in St. Louis, proposes mindfulness as a gateway to self knowledge, since it involves two components she believes essential -- attention and non-judgemental observation. She believes the non-judgmental observation, in particular, can overcome self knowledge barriers like emotional reactivity.
Vulnerability - Popular researcher, Brené Brown, is all about facing vulnerability head on to “expand perception.” Her research on vulnerability and shame, explore why embracing these uncomfortable emotions within the self lead people to a place of authenticity. “It gives people the courage to be imperfect” and allows them to “let go of who they should be to be who they are.”
And knowing yourself, many say, is the key to mastering oneself and finding the success and well being we all crave. Once we know our authentic selves and move toward accepting that person, we don’t HAVE to show people that person, do we?
One good reason to be yourself out in the world is that authenticity breeds deeper and more meaningful connection. In fact, according to Ohio State professor of psychology, Amy Brunell it helps you find and keep relationships. "If you're true to yourself, it is easier to act in ways that build intimacy in relationships, and that's going to make your relationship more fulfilling."
If that’s not enough reason, how about this one? It’s the number one regret of the dying, according to palliative care expert Bronnie Ware. Those of is at the end of life often say, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Being yourself, being vulnerable and truly seen, takes a great amount of courage. In order to be yourself out in public, you’re going to have to grow thick skin and a backbone of steel. But knowing yourself and showing yourself, as you are, can lead to success because you’ll tap into your values and personal strengths, connect deeply with those who can share or facilitate what matters, and use this knowledge and connection to guide life decisions in a powerful and positive way.
Best selling business author, Peter Economy, encourages you to practice the habits of authentic people in his Inc.com article. Here are four habits that resonated:
Accept Yourself: Know yourself, yes, but then believe you are enough. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Get support for your weaknesses and maximize your strengths.
Let go of Labels: Tell your own story. You don’t have to fall into line with a label and you don’t have to label others to get along in life. Leave the boxes and boundaries behind. You’re unique.
Be Comfortable with Uncertainty: Make discomfort your friend -- discomfort with yourself, others and the constant uncertainty in life.
Focus on Journey: We all want results, but authentic people realize that results are by-products of process and hard work. If you don’t love the process, you’ll never love the result.
Keep Learning and Striving: Once you love process and are comfortable with uncertainty, challenges will be exciting and not dreadful. Learning and failing will be part of the everyday process that you enjoy on your way to wherever it is you’re going.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” - C.G. Jung