7 practices to become more authentic

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Authenticity (along with the meaning of life, freedom and responsibility) is one of the main themes of existential psychotherapy. Consciously or not, authenticity is a common motive and desire in most people’s lives. How many times have you heard, or perhaps spoken to yourself, phrases like “I need to find myself” or “I need to find out who I really am”?

Being authentic means aligning our actions with our values, beliefs, preferences and motivations. Underlying the concept of authenticity is the notion of our true selves versus our false, false, superficial, pseudo, or inauthentic selves. As human beings, we experience both an outer self and an inner core, an essence, an authentic self, not necessarily reflected in the outside world.

In my clinical practice, I often hear depressed clients use expressions such as, “Sometimes I feel like I’m wearing a mask. When people feel inauthentic, they suffer from depression and low levels of self-esteem. This is because the lack of authenticity causes individuals to adopt excessive obedience or conformity and unnatural or forced behavior (e.g., pleasing people), which leaves them devalued and dissatisfied.

Teens are especially at risk of hiding their true selves due to the increase in displays of false personal behaviors as an attempt to deal with feelings that they may not be good enough for others. This demonstration of false self by putting on a mask or a facade, as well as the suppression of true feelings and thoughts, causes them to experience a lack of voice, low self-esteem, and depressive symptoms.

It is as if, intuitively, these people came to psychotherapy because they felt the need to reduce or eliminate the gap between their true and their false selves, to find out what is really behind their mask. Psychotherapy offers them a journey towards self-discovery.

The origin of the fake me

According to Winnicott (1960), “the False Self is represented by the whole organization of polite and mannered social attitude…” (p. 143). He uses the term to describe the defensive mechanism infants are forced to use to respond to inadequate mothering and care or failures in empathy, forcing them to give up or adjust to their own. needs to meet the conscious and unconscious needs of the caregivers on whom they depend. completely dependent. This becomes the start of the development of subjugation – giving up control to the wishes of others while suppressing one’s own needs and wants – which is a predictor of depression (Basile et al., 2018).

Humans become inauthentic when they get lost claiming that they have no responsibility for their lives. According to Carl Rogers, a psychological disturbance results from the incongruity between an individual’s real self (his real behavior) and his “ideal self” (what he would like to be). From his perspective, authenticity relates to the congruence, alignment or consistency between the two. As customers become more real, congruent, and focused on themselves, they also become more integrated.

Seven practices to become more authentic

The following seven practices for becoming more authentic are based on the work of Alex Wood and his colleagues to develop the Authenticity scale (Wood et al., 2008).

  1. Strive to be yourself, instead of being popular.
  2. Find out how you feel on the inside.
  3. Notice the need to do what others expect of you.
  4. Don’t automatically do what others say or expect you to do.
  5. Don’t be swayed by the opinions of others.
  6. Stick to what you believe in.
  7. Live in accordance with your values ​​and beliefs.

Seven benefits of being more authentic

By regularly practicing the above, you will gradually embrace an authentic life, reduce acceptance of eternal influences, and feel less alienated. As a result, you will be able to:

  1. Develop a stronger sense of self by becoming more aware of your feelings, wants and needs.
  2. Become more assertive and express your needs in a calm, controlled manner while commanding authority and respect.
  3. Develop a strong sense of personal agency – your ability to make wise choices in life. That is, you see yourself as being active in the world, as opposed to being relatively passive.
  4. Feel empowered, capable and proud of yourself. That is, you will develop your self-esteem, develop self-confidence, a strong sense of self and the ability to undo the negative effects of internalized oppression, which results from surrendering to the expectations of others. .
  5. Develop a capacity for self-direction and self-control. Through continuous introspection and self-examination, you will be able to exercise deeper thinking, greater freedom and more responsibility.
  6. Cope better with adversity by creating the conditions to know yourself intimately, to face and cope with your real-life challenges, and to realize your aspiration to become who you aspire to be.
  7. Improve your life satisfaction, your well-being and your optimal psychological functioning.

As a continuation of this work, I can testify that this is what happens when individuals take responsibility for discovering and “living in tune with their demon or their true self” (Waterman, 1990, p. 39).

Never be afraid or ashamed to embark on the quest to find your true self! In doing so, give up your comfort by resorting to your courage. Finally, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. So, consider finding yourself a caring, compassionate, and astute psychotherapist.


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