Authenticity. What does it mean to live authentically?

Living authentically is my top priority as a human being and as a psychologist. It's also one of the most difficult things to do. When I think about living authentically, I consider the importance of being honest and truthful with ourselves and extending that to others. I think about standing up for oneself and one's needs. I think about connecting with others in a balanced way that complements instead of mutes our uniqueness. Authentic living is also guided by one's values - and living authentically is a chosen life direction or path. We always have a choice whether to take steps toward authentic living. So let's take a moment to look at what goes into living authentically.

  • Mindfulness: The ability to slow down, pay attention, and notice what is going on is a necessary part of the foundation for living authentically. Refer to my previous post for more information on mindfulness. If we live life on automatic pilot, it's much more difficult to connect to our inner truth/needs/preferences. 

  • Values Identification: How can we live authentically if we are unaware that we value authentic living? And how would we be able to live in a way that is true to ourselves if we aren't sure what's important to us? It's essential that you know what is most important to you in life, or are curious about exploring what is important. 

  • Commitment: Once you know what your values are, and if they include authentic living, then it takes ongoing commitment and steps in the direction of authentic living. The specifics of commitment will mean different things to different people. For one person it may be committing to weekly therapy to identify and explore personal values. For another person it may mean leaving a relationship that is no longer functioning in a way that facilitates growth and awareness. And for another person it may mean taking a leap into a new career that isn't just about the paycheck. 

  • Willingness: Authenticity takes a willingness to be brave, be bold, be fierce about who you are and what matters to you. It takes a willingness to be honest even though you know you are upsetting other people. It takes a willingness to make changes that are uncomfortable and painful. Simply and honestly put.

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My understanding of authenticity is influenced by both spirituality and psychology. I welcome discussion about your thoughts on what it means to live authentically!