authenticity contradictory core values core values how to be authentic what is authenticity? who are you? Feb 01, 2023

Authenticity – What is it and why do we need it?

Now, your self-image is the way you view yourself. You might view yourself as a parent, a construction worker, a friend, a blonde, a sports fan, intelligent, impatient, and middle-aged. But you’re more than your career, gender, and age. You’re more than your parents’ opinion. You’re a unique person with nuances that are unique to you!

When who you are aligns with what you do, then you’re living authentically. But most of us view ourselves as one way and live another, whereas Authentic people act honestly and congruently with themselves. The benefits of this authenticity are enormous: success, self-esteem, respect from others, and inner peace.

Those that live lives that are misaligned with their values, beliefs, and attitudes suffer from more anxiety, guilt, and shame. It might seem easier to live up to the expectations of others in the short-term, but the long-term costs are significant.

So for example if 2 of your core values are honesty and integrity, and you are in a situation at work where your boss wants you to lie to the client about something, then you are going to find it very difficult to do this, and you are best staying well away from it because if you do try, your uncomfortableness with it will show through and you won’t be able to lie convincingly anyway! Being in employment where your core values are not aligned with the company’s way of working, is a sure way to an unhappy life.

So what do we have to do to be authentic?

Well before you can be authentic, you need to know what you need to be authentic to  - in other words you need to identify and understand what your core values are. So,


  1. We need to Identify our core values. An authentic self-image is one that is aligned with our values. By knowing our values, we will gain an understanding of what is important to us. Once we’re aware of our values, we can build a self-image and life that are more meaningful and enjoyable.


  • Make a list of your values. Create a long list and include everything that you think applies to you. Then, reduce your list to the ten values that are most important to you. You might struggle to narrow your list to just ten, but ten values are plenty.(Even 5 are ok). What you may want to do is to group similar values together and come up with a group heading.


  • So if you are now thinking well I don’t know what my core values are – I’ve never thought about it before, then I have made a list of some and put them at the end of this article.


 If the one you want is not there, then don’t worry – the list isn’t exhaustive, just add the one you want to your list. Eg Integrity wasn’t on the list I first looked at. Also, don’t pick core values just because you think that you ought to have them because others expect it or because your parents had them. It’s important that you do this exercise for yourself. What you can do, is to pick values that you want to aspire to – even if you don’t have them yet. We become what we aim for.


  1. Determine if you have any conflicts. For example, you might say that adventure and freedom are two of your most important values, but what if you also strongly favor responsibility and security?


  • When you’re faced with an inner conflict, you’re likely to shut down and do nothing. If you’ve ever been paralyzed while making a decision, it’s possible your values were in conflict. Think back to when you’ve struggled to make a decision and see if it’s true. If you find that you have a conflict between your own values then, you need to see if there is a way of resolving that conflict, using the example given above (which is a conflict my husband & I had, when we wanted to spend a year driving up through Africa) it could be that you decide to have a year of adventure and freedom and go travelling, but you decide to work hard and save up first so that when you return you haven’t incurred any large debts. Thankfully neither my husband nor I like to be in debt, so we always make sure we can afford something before we buy it. And this is indeed what we did before we did our Africa trip. (That was in the days before you could ‘travel blog’ your way around the world!)
  1. Create an action plan for each value. Imagine one of your values is frugality. You could create a budget and savings plan that incorporates that value. You might plan to start clipping coupons, visit less expensive stores, and search for free entertainment options available on the weekends.
  2. Make a list of activities you enjoy that are in alignment with your values. For example, if generosity is a priority, you could find an enjoyable way to spend your time helping others. If health is a value you cherish, you could join a soccer team or a Pilates class. Find your favorite sport and participate.


  1. Evaluate yourself at the end of each day/week Think about the instances when you failed to live according to your values , acknowledge it and move on – don’t beat yourself up! Likewise, contemplate the times you were able to live according to your values and self-image, particularly when doing so was challenging, and give yourself a pat on the back.


Create a self-image that is in alignment with your values. First, it is necessary to identify and choose your values. Next, construct a life that allows you to live those values consistently and to thrive. Authenticity can help you to make important decisions in life, but it’s not always the easiest choice.

Be bold enough to choose the person you want to become and live accordingly. The benefits are enormous. What are your values?

So, Have there been times in your life when you felt you weren’t acting like your true self? Maybe you were unsure of a situation or were lacking the confidence to reveal who you truly are. This can often happen when we are meeting a group of people for the first time, you hang back a bit to see where the new group are at.


Whatever your reason, you chose to hide your real self. However, if it continues long term Personal concealment can place us into an emotionally unhealthy cycle. First, we feel unsure of ourselves and this causes us to act even less authentic in the future. We may even begin to wonder, “Who am I?”


Rather than spending time hiding from the world, you’ll flourish by revealing your true self to others. Becoming more authentic in your interactions is definitely possible.


Commit to increasing your personal authenticity in these ways:


  1. Monitor your feelings closely. When you know and understand your own emotions, you’ll be less likely to behave in ways that contrast with your feelings.Stay in the moment and consider what is going on in your world in the present.


  1. Give yourself time. If something happens and you’re unsure of how to react or respond, it’s okay to not react at all. Allow yourself some moments to consider the situation. If you feel pressure to respond, saying something like, “I’m not sure how to respond to that,” can be your best line of action until you’re more confident in your reaction.


  1. Catch yourself being inauthentic. When you realize you’ve been less than honest in a given situation, it’s okay to say, “Wait a minute. I changed my mind,” or “Maybe I’m not as sure about this as I thought.”


  • Remind yourself that you have permission to alter your response to anyone and anything at any time. Then, choose a route that’s more in line with how you honestly feel. Having said that, I think you must realize that depending on the situation, you may put others out or offend others If you change your mind. So that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it, but you should be aware of the fact that others have feelings too, and may have already taken steps towards what you agreed in the first place.


  1. Notice what situations prompt you to be disingenuous. Being insincere or untruthful each time you’re around your in-laws or your supervisor, for example, will reveal where your insecurities lie.
  • Do some self-reflection to determine why you’re behaving this way around that person or in that particular situation.


  1. Be authentic with others to increase your level of confidence. The ability to be open and honest shows that you like and accept yourself and you’re self-assured. Avoid being afraid or too timid to show others who you really are. Self-confidence goes a long way! In fact I think that not being authentic can harm your self-confidence because you know you are not being the true you.


  • Realize that others truly appreciate you when you’re authentic in behaviour and comments. Think about how you feel when you’re with someone who’s consistently open with you. It feels comfortable and easy to be with someone you know you can trust. There’s no tension or guesswork involved. If you keep this information in mind, you may find it a little easier to be authentic.


  1. Show care and gentleness toward others. You might be thinking, “What’s the connection between being caring and being authentic?” If you go out of your way to be polite and kind to others, it will be a natural response to be authentic with them. Once you realize that you hold their feelings in your hands, you’ll know it’s necessary to be gentle and honest with others.


When you expend a little bit of effort on relating to others truthfully and carefully, you’ll gradually find that you like yourself more. When you offer authenticity to others, it sets a wonderful example for those around you. The more authentic you are, the richer the life you’ll live.


Note: If you haven’t yet chosen a life-long partner, before you get too involved, check that your values are in harmony ( you may not have exactly the same ones, but they need to be able to work with yours) as this will prevent problems later on. And remember to demonstrate them early on, so that they are aware of yours.