We May Fear Authenticity, But It Makes Us Strong


One of the keys to better relationships and good mental health is authenticity, or being able to express ourselves honestly.

Authenticity is being sincere with yourself and others about what you like, dislike, think, and feel.

Communicating authentically is finding a balance between transparency and tact. Much of the time being authentic is the best option, but there are times when the greater wisdom lies in not saying what is on our mind. For instance, you might decide not to tell a coworker their new haircut makes them resemble a hedgehog.

Our reluctance to be genuine is part of the human condition. We give each another plenty of reasons to be self-protective, so it is not surprising that we are. Most of us must mature into the courage required to be open and honest.

Our Fear of Being Known

Our inauthenticity stems from the fear that being transparent will bring criticism, rejection, ridicule, or that we will not get our needs and wants met. We might also dislike what we consider our real self to be, or experience inner emptiness and believe nothing is there.

So, we learn to conceal genuine thoughts and feelings, or our perceived lack of them. There are several ways to do this:

  1. We say very little, rarely sharing our likes, dislikes, thoughts, and feelings with others.
  2. We do or share whatever we think will help us get our wants and needs met.
  3. We talk constantly about many things to deflect people’s attention away from our “real” self.
  4. We create and express a self image that is more ideal than real, but less likely to be criticized, hurt, or taken advantage of.

Although we tend to fiercely protect ourself, a person’s self is not a static thing. Our likes, dislike, opinions, and feelings may change over time. However, we can be honest about what goes on within us today, in the present moment, even if it will be different ten years from now.

The Strength of Authenticity

The reasons for speaking honestly about our self are many, but they all have to do with making a life and building relationships based on what is true about us now. It is impossible to build stable, nurturing situations and relationships by continually expressing personal fiction that you think will keep you safe—instead of sharing the reality of what you actually like, dislike, think, and feel.

Being transparent and vulnerable makes us strong and more comfortable in our skin, though most people do not believe this until they experience it. If you want to experience it but find authenticity intimidating you are not alone. Fortunately, this is something that a good therapist can help people accomplish.

Live authentically. Why would you continue to compromise something that’s beautiful to create something that is fake? ~ Steve Maraboli


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