“Look, I’ll be honest with you, that’s just a stupid idea.”
Comments like this used to make me feel like an authentic person. Like many people, I confused authenticity with rudeness.
Sometimes we excuse our lack of care and insensitivity as a sign that we are authentic.“I don’t give a sh*t about what anyone thinks about me,” we’ll say, thinking we are being authentic.
Sure, authenticity indeed makes you more honest, but that’s just a part of what it entails; it also makes you a better person. Usually, the signs are more internal, like a dimension of consciousness that begins to open up to you as you understand yourself and life better.
The good news is that we all know what authenticity feels like.
We’ve all had glimpses of it from time to time, some more than others. These are times we felt liberated to say what we wanted, or fearlessly show love without worrying about the consequences.
Being authentic is what our true nature strives for because moments of authenticity are moments of liberation. That said, here are five ways to know you are becoming a more authentic person.
1. People’s Approval Means Less to You
Approval-seeking behavior thrives on dishonesty with oneself. It requires you to claim that you like what you don’t like to be accepted by others.
It involves masking your personality to avoid social rejection. The lack of self-knowledge in inauthentic people makes the blow of social rejection more painful, and as such, they do whatever they can to avoid it.
But authenticity, on the other hand, brings about stable self-regulation and positive self-perception. The truer you are to yourself, the lesser the opinions of others will matter to you. As Grant Hilary Brenner MD, explained in Psychology Today:
“Authenticity is thought to reduce the pain of social exclusion by increasing security, reducing the feeling of the external threat from destabilizing self-regulation, and putting the brakes on the negative self-evaluation which comes from being excluded.”
Interestingly, research also reveals that authenticity correlates with choosing popular products less often. Meaning the more authentic you are, the less likely it is that you’ll fall prey to advertising designed to play on our insecurities about social belonging.
Interesting: How To Be More Confident In 5 Minutes
2. You Are More Emotionally Intelligent
This is the difference between mere rudeness and authenticity. As Stephen Joseph Ph.D., explained in his article published in Psychology Today, authenticity is not a free for all, in which anything goes. It is a way of being defined by emotional and psychological maturity. In his words:
“Authenticity isn’t about just saying what you think or doing what you want. Authentic people do things in a certain way…when you become more authentic, you become a certain kind of person… you become more empathetic, more accepting, both of yourself and others.”
See it this way:
The more you know yourself, the more authentic you become. Because of this self-knowledge, you can recognize the struggles and insecurities that are ever so present in human nature.
And as a result, you become more generous in accommodating your flaws and the inadequacies of others, not calling them out.
3. You Think For Yourself
We all grew up vulnerable. For the fortunate, there were people around to receive love and also learn from.
With no skill or knowledge attached to our fragile selves, we had to observe and learn as much as we could from our environment to reduce the strangeness of life.
But as good as it was for us to be open to learning, a downside results from this over time: As life unfolds, we realize that most of the ideas we consider ours are a bundle of ideas we’ve gotten from those around us.
The things we consider appropriate, stylish, successful, happy, and “the good life,” are usually just ideas we’ve learned from society. And breaking out of this cultural transmission of knowledge requires us to know ourselves better.
Here’s the thing: When you become more authentic, you get more in tune with what really feels right for you as an individual, not what everyone thinks should be the right thing for you.
You begin to look differently at the ideas that society has taught you. You start seeing the ideas not as facts, but as modules of living that are subject to change.
To simply put, the truer and more open we are to the things we really want, the better we become at thinking for ourselves. As Goethe put it,
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
4. You Feel More Powerful And In Control of Your Life
Authenticity brings a sense of freedom. When your actions align with what you want for yourself, not what everyone thinks is the best for you, you feel liberated and in control of your life.
As a Roman statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero famously put it, “freedom is the power to live as one wishes.”
Authenticity makes you self-sufficient. You feel more powerful because you have an internal locus of control and self-evaluation. As discovered in a study explaining the link between authenticity and power:
“The powerless are more likely to have an external locus of control; they feel constantly influenced…they feel they have very limited control over the outcomes in their own lives.”
If, on the other hand, other people’s approval means less to you, you are more able to freely pursue your goals and aspirations without letting the fear of failure, or opinions stop you.
Also, embracing who you are in your totality signals power.
It’s no news that we love the bold and find timidity less appealing. When people show that they are proud of who they are, we respect them more, this makes authentic people feel more powerful in social interactions. Authenticity makes you feel bigger in your own eyes and the eyes of others.
5. You Become More Creative
No one can be creative without paying attention to their authentic self. As Albert Einstein confessed,
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”
In other words, creativity requires you to pay attention to and embrace the parts of you that can look at things in ways that are peculiar to you as an individual.
It means that you freely put all your unique experiences, and views of life to use without the fear of judgment.
Furthermore, the truer you are to yourself, the more capable you become at listening to the subtle voice that sparks creative ideas. The thing is, often, the most creative ideas may seem strange to everyone else except the person who has that idea.
Hence, it requires self-acceptance to let yourself explore an idea that may seem unconventional to the majority of people.
This was why Percy Spencer was able to establish the connection between the candy bar that melted in his pocket and a microwave’s ability to cook in 1945. Despite the idea coming to him while he was at work, distracted, he paid attention to it and tried further experiments with popcorn and eggs.
As great as it is to be authentic, it’s easier said than done. Authenticity requires courage. It is much easier, in the short term, to follow trends and take up only conventional ideas.
But it is a road worth traveling. Because in the long run, authenticity is the foundation for emotionally mature life. To recap, here are five signs that you are becoming a more authentic person:
- Other people’s approval means less to you
- You are more emotionally intelligent
- You think for yourself
- You feel more powerful and in control of your life
- You become more creative