Why is it so hard to be yourself and live authentically?

Have you ever felt lost? Like you don’t know who you really are, or like something is missing but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is? You worry about what everyone else thinks of you and who you are. You begin to believe what others think and say about you. Forgetting or never knowing who you are. With a constant bombardment of the media telling us who to be, what we want, and how to express ourselves. All of these influences slowly chip away at our ability to be our authentic selves.

But by being someone you are not, you are telling yourself that who you really are isn’t okay. So hiding or suppressing who you really are can end up leaving you feeling lonely, disconnected from others, or even worthless.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity is the embrace of the reality of our freedom and responsibility of how we choose to live our lives. It is the fundamental notion of living a meaningful life. It means trying to be ourselves, which requires us to know and own who we are at our core. To live in accordance with our values, beliefs, or personality without the influence of other people or society in general.

Authenticity affects our judgment and behavior across all aspects of life. Living authentically is about knowing what it means to be real. Being authentic you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. You express your whole self genuinely, rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself. How we balance authenticity and well-being in our lives amongst the multiple roles we play can be challenging.

The Art of Being Authentic: By T. Mark Meyer

Carl Rogers (1963), who is one of the most renowned humanistic psychologists, believed that motivation toward fulfillment and self-actualization is a normal. Our tendency is to strive for authenticity is normal. Our unsatisfied needs block our natural human nature to be authentic. We want to be real and grow in the direction necessary to reach our full potential, like plants growing toward the light.

As children, we learn to earn unconditional love and affection. This conditioning pushes us toward inauthentic living as adults. When we perform well, we receive the sense of belonging and love that we so crave as humans. “Putting on a show” for others becomes the norm as we grow into adulthood. To be inauthentic. We don’t always think and act exactly how we feel because being ourselves has become abnormal.

Why Authenticity Matters

An authentic living person lives purposefully. They follow their passions and connect with their natural abilities, strengths, and talents. They tend to exist in the moment. Always trying to understand themselves on a deeper level. What motivates them. Knowing their worth and expecting others to respect their worth. While still understanding where their own responsibilities and choices lie.

Being authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. Rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself, you express your whole self genuinely. That means to succeed in being authentic, you first have to know who your true self actually is. And this requires self-awareness, mindfulness, and self-acceptance.

Authentic: The Confidence to Be Yourself, the Courage to Release Your Greatness

How we lost our authenticity

We are constantly balancing inner and outer aspects of ourselves in order to better fit in, to become more successful, or to find love. Finding our place in society is what drives us. We seek respect for who we truly are and what we contribute. The desire to become a more authentic person propels many of us even further into knowing and living our purpose.

But at the same time, we live in a society that values superficiality, that strives for perfection, and defines success by the dollars in our bank account and not by how well we live our values every day. So how are we to be authentic in spite of the messages that try to convince us to be someone else? Studies have shown that life’s impermanence and uncertainty may actually increase authentic living. For some, the realizations that death is ultimately unavoidable and values are subjective can be wake-up calls that lead to more authenticity.

Why overcoming inauthenticity is hard

Authenticity and living a complete and fulfilling life are processes rather than outcomes. Living authentically involves moving in a direction that is most authentic to us as individuals. It is important to adopt a eudaimonic attitude (which is a Greek word meaning ‘good spirit’ or ‘wellbeing’) to find meaning and happiness in life. We must strive to achieve authenticity, excellence, and personal growth in order to fully develop our potentials. Such a person is more likely to engage in positive, intrinsically motivated, and socially aware activities.

Our parents, teachers, religions, peers, and society molded us as children to “fit in.” As a result, we develop beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that keep us acting in those ways. Not in the ways that make us feel like our authentic selves. The self that prioritizes fitting in, getting along, and generally doing what we’re told is the “adaptive self”. This self is not without value and purpose—it helps us be functioning members of society. But if you’re feeling inauthentic, the Adaptive Self is running your life. To reclaim your authenticity, you need to discover your “Authentic Self”—the self that prioritizes living according to your values, pursuing your purpose, and fighting for the causes you care about.

7 Ways to be More Authentic

How to be your Authentic Self

It is necessary to engage in several practices and activities to be more authentic while encouraging a balance between what is going on inwardly and what we express outwardly. In the long term, putting on an inauthentic front is tiring, damaging to our mental and physical wellbeing and ultimately self-destructive.

Learn to do the following in your daily life:

  • Become aware of what is happening physically. People with tense necks or shoulders may be dealing with a number of things on the inside–including feelings and thoughts–which are causing their muscles to tighten.
  • Listen to your inner voice. Listen to your hopes, dreams, and fears on a regular basis.
  • Know yourself, You have to accept who you are, what you’re good at, what you’re willing to do and what you’re not. Face up to the truth of who you are. Honesty isn’t always pleasant, but it can set you free.
  • Own yourself and your truths. Don’t be swayed by others’ opinions, but also don’t cling to views when they no longer serve you. Be willing to take responsibility for your choices.
  • Be yourself; People like and trust those they perceive as honest, sincere and genuine. They distrust those who are not.

You can ask yourself the following questions to ensure that you are living authentically:

  1. Do I feel free to make my own choices?
  2. Do I feel free to express my own views and opinions?
  3. Do I feel I can be myself on a day-to-day basis?

If you answered no to any of the above questions, then ask yourself one more:

Am I being true to who I am?

Final thoughts

An authentic life is one where our needs are met, we feel fulfilled, we experience self-actualization, and we flourish. Authenticity is the result of balancing what is occurring within you and how you express yourself outside. It requires you to remove many of the defense mechanisms that formed in childhood to protect you. You must also see, accept and understand existence with honesty. Life is complicated and rarely black and white; you cannot expect people and opportunities to be as you would hope but you do have control over your reactions. By stopping yourself from alienating others, being distant from your likes, fears and desires, you can become more in touch with the real you.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Please read my Terms of Use Policy for more information.

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