Authenticity is valued and nobody trusts someone who seems phony.  But the word authenticity is one that is increasingly used in marketing, particularly over the last few years, and it’s now beginning to leave many with a slightly greasy, uneasy feeling.

It’s easy to shy away from popular ideas and words as they come to be seen as clichés, gradually losing their power and worth.  However, this suggests a failure to recognise that when words become overused it’s because there is a collective consciousness that the value they describe is important at that particular time.  At this moment in time humanity seeks greater authenticity.

Right now, across society there is awareness that some degree of manipulation and distortion exists in all the information we encounter, irrespective of the source.  In uncertain times we seek the signposts of truth and honesty as we attempt to navigate an ever-changing field.  Whether we are doing it consciously or not, we seek to follow the trail of authenticity and value it more than we ever have before.

The importance of authenticity as a valued tool to help us navigate our world with grace and ease is not about to decline.  But what exactly do we mean by the term? And how do we embed it into our lives?



What Is Authenticity?


Authenticity reflects the extent to which someone’s True Self is functioning on a daily basis.  It’s about the choice to show up and be real, the choice to be honest, and the choice to let out true selves be seen


Living authentically means:

  • aligning our life choices with our values and ethics
  • cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest
  • setting and maintaining boundaries
  • allowing ourselves to be vulnerable
  • exercising compassion and accepting that we are all made of light & shadow, strength and struggle
  • nurturing a connection and sense of belonging
  • letting go of who we’re supposed to be and embracing who we truly are
  • wholehearted living and loving – even when it’s difficult
  • placing our own self-love and acceptance over the admiration and approval of others



Why Authenticity Is Essential


People often try to live their lives backwards; they try to DO more things in order to do or HAVE more of what they want, in the erroneous belief that they will then BE happier. This is a formula that works as ‘Do → Have → Be’.

The way it actually works is the reverse.

You must first BE who you really are, (that is, you must be authentic), then you can DO what you really need to do, in order to HAVE what you want.

Living authentically indicates that we have made a conscious choice to live in complete alignment with our values and ethics. It sends the message “This is who I am and I expect you to accept me just like this.”  It tells the world that it is more important to you to be genuine and truthful about yourself than it is to have everyone like you. This doesn’t mean you are ‘thumbing your nose at the world’, but rather that you want to surround you with people who accept you as you really are. Authenticity transcends self-doubt and shame.


Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re
supposed to be and embracing who we are



Staying Authentic


It can be very difficult to be authentic in a culture that wants you to “fit in” and “people-please.”  Living authentically can seem like living the ultimate ‘square peg in the round hole’ scenario.  But the other side to the challenges is the sense of peace that comes with no longer having to pretend to something you are not.  Being authentic requires both choice and an ongoing commitment once you have made that conscious choice.


Authenticity is a conscious choice about how we want to live


Choosing authenticity means:

  • Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable
  • Exercising the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough


“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day,
to make you everybody but yourself – means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.”   

 ~ e.e. cummings




Staying Real Takes Courage


When we choose to be true to ourselves, the people around us will often struggle to make sense of how and why we are changing. They may be fearful because they worry about how our authenticity might affect the relationship. Above all they may be critical.

Sometimes when we push the system, it pushes back.  That pushback can come as everything from rolled eyes and whispers to relationship struggles and feelings of isolation if others choose to avoid our company.  There may also be cruel or shaming responses to our authentic voice.

Some may even perceive our authenticity as selfish or narcissistic.  It’s important to remember this response is based in a fear of change and it poses questions about the others own fear of authenticity.

Dealing with this treatment by others can be very difficult and even perhaps, heartbreaking.  At times it can even be tempting to trade in your authenticity.  However, if you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.


These simple guidelines will help you navigate slurs and doubts you may encounter without compromising your own authenticity:

  • Don’t make people feel uncomfortable, but be honest
  • Don’t upset anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings, but say what’s on your mind
  • Sound informed and educated, but not like a know-it-all
  • Don’t say anything unpopular or controversial, but have the courage to disagree with the crowd


Authenticity isn’t always the safe option.  
Sometimes choosing to be real over being liked is all about playing it unsafe.  
It means stepping out of our comfort zone



The Burden Of Shame


Nobody feels good about half-truths, disingenuous connection and fearful silence.  Nobody likes being manipulated.  However, shame often prevents us from presenting our real selves to the people around us. Shame sabotages our efforts to be authentic.  But we cannot be genuine when we are desperately trying to manage and control how others perceive us.  We cannot be authentic when we constantly afraid they may not like us.  It’s impossible to be “real” when we are ashamed of who we are or what we believe.


Being vulnerable is essential to experience true connection


Shame begets shame.  When we sacrifice authenticity in an effort to manage how we are being perceived by others, we often get caught in a dangerous and debilitating cycle.  Shame, or the fear of being shamed, shifts us away from our True Authentic Selves.



7 Keys to Authenticity


  1. Be humble – do not judge others, we each have free will and the right to make our own choices
  2. Be vulnerable – express yourself freely, clearly and openly
  3. Walk the talk – keep your actions aligned with your words
  4. Admit and own your mistakes –- and be open to learn from them
  5. Be consistent – consistency, reliability and predictability invites the trust of others
  6. Understand your motivations – become very clear and precise about your values
  7. Act with integrity – be honest, do the right thing, make ethical decisions, keep promises, treat people with respect, don’t lie, cheat or steal