By Caroline Smith and the Mind Tools Team
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Authenticity

How to Be True to Yourself

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© iStockphoto
JayKay57

Don't try to be someone you're not.

Do you ever feel as if you're wearing a mask? Perhaps you feel that you have to act in a certain way around your boss, or say certain things to your colleagues, so that you'll be accepted. Instead of being yourself, you're constantly playing a role to fit in, or to impress others.

Most of us have gone through times like this, at some stage or another. Instead of behaving in a genuine way, we tell people what we think they want to hear, and act in ways that go against our true nature. In short, we're living inauthentically.

Living and working this way is tiring, dispiriting, and confining. It can also hold us back from reaching our true potential. The opposite of this is to live and work authentically. When we give ourselves permission to be ourselves, we can live free from others' ideas and expectations, and we can choose our own course in life.

In this article, we'll examine authenticity in depth: what it is, what it entails, and how we can be more authentic in our own lives.

What is Authenticity?

It can seem that there are as many different definitions of authenticity as there are psychologists, philosophers, and scholars. However, a common definition is that being authentic is living your life according to your own values and goals, rather than those of other people.

Put simply, authenticity means you're true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you're under to act otherwise. You're honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align. As a result, you come across as genuine, and you're willing to accept the consequences of being true to what you consider to be right.

Why Be Authentic?

It isn't always easy to live authentically. At times, being true to what you know is right means that you go against the crowd. It may mean being unconventional, opening yourself up for the possibility of others hurting you, and taking the harder road.

On one hand, it does mean missing some opportunities – you do have to accept this. However, in the longer term, it's likely to open up many more opportunities; opportunities that simply wouldn't be available to someone who has been seen to be shifty, conflicted, vacillating, or inauthentic.

Living an authentic life is also vastly more rewarding than hiding your true self. When you live authentically, you don't have to worry about what you said (or didn't say), how you acted, or whether you did the right thing. Living authentically means you can trust yourself and your motivations implicitly.

There are several other benefits of being authentic...

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