“To thine owe self be true.” Hamlet’s words have become famous because they resonate with so many of us. We are happiest when we feel we can truly be ourselves, and yet this often feels more complicated than it should. So what is an ‘Authentic Life’? And what do we do when our need for Authenticity conflicts with our need for Social Acceptance and Belonging?
In this episode, Clay and Sarah discuss aspects of authenticity and how it applies to the way we live our daily lives.
In this episode you will hear:
* what Authenticity means
* why self-knowledge is the first step in living an authentic life
* How to distinguish our true beliefs vs unconsciously adopted beliefs
* How to bring actions into line with our inner values and core beliefs
* The role of the social environment in influencing you to act against your core beliefs
* What we might do when people in our lives don’t accept our ‘authentic self’ – i.e. When authentic living conflicts with social acceptance
*5 steps to living a more authentic life
We feel we are living an authentic life when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs and values.
Psychologist Carl Rogers considered the ability to live an authentic life to be central to a happy life. He defined authenticity as a person’s attempt to balance the process of realising one’s own needs while living with others and meeting the needs of those relationships. As he pointed out, this requires a deep level on self-knowledge, because we must be aware of our inner emotional states and deep values in order to then communicate those states with others.
It is this congruency between our inner and outer selves that seems most important in striving to be authentic – and according to current psychological research by Alex Linley and Stephen Joseph, authenticity is a top factor in distinguishing happy vs unhappy people. In a research article on ‘The Authentic Personality’ they explain that “a person is authentic when they have a fully consistent identity in line with reality, behave consistently with this, and do not allow external influences to distort self-perception or prevent the authentic behaviour expression of one’s self.”
These three aspects, according to Alex Linley, are central to authenticity: (1) Lack of Alienation (a sense of identity that is consistent with all deep down beliefs, actual feelings, inherent tendencies and objective reality. (2) Authentic Living (acting in line with this identity. (3) Not accepting external influence when it goes against this identity or personal beliefs.
But what if ‘being yourself’ makes you stand out, marks you as ‘different’ from others? This becomes even more difficult if this is the case with your loved ones. As Abigail Mengers acknowledges in her psychological article ‘The Benefits of Being Yourself”, in this exploration of authenticity it is important to recognise the conflict that can occur between authenticity and acceptance.
In an article entitled ‘Five Ways to Live an Authentic Life’, Polly Campbell suggests that we can address these aspects by:
(1) Redefining our values – since our experiences and understanding of life is constantly evolving, we should re-evaluate beliefs we’ve held for awhile rather than simply maintaining our beliefs from childhood.
(2) Foster an Open-Mind – allow ourselves to be open to different perspectives
(3) Consider how you would complete this sentence: “If you really knew me, you’d know _____.”
(4) Notice when you are being inauthentic – and explore those fears!
(5) Trust your intuition
Ultimately getting in touch with your core beliefs can be a really great exercise. Core beliefs are the things you consider so fundamental to who you are that you would do anything to defend them and without them, would feel like you weren’t really yourself. Clay and Sarah have shared some of their core beliefs in a facebook post…Tap here to find out what they are and let us know what you consider to be your own core beliefs.