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Embracing Authenticity

In social situations, many of us find ourselves in a balancing act between fitting in with others versus being true to who we really are. It’s common to “put on” certain behaviors that we think will help us accomplish whatever social goals we have. This is known as “masking,” and it often involves hiding our true thoughts and feelings in order to avoid rejection or discomfort. When masking, we might mimic others, control our expressions, or act in ways we think will make us more likable or accepted.

While masking can be very effective in helping to navigate social settings and sometimes is a necessary tool in circumstances where safety is a concern, especially for people who hold marginalized identities, masking also has downsides. It can leave us feeling drained because we’re not being genuine with those around us. This pressure to conform can contribute to social burnout, causing the avoidance of social situations or people that we feel require this type of behavior. When we constantly act in ways that aren’t true to ourselves, it can lead to feelings of depression, unworthiness, loneliness, or a lack of true connection with others.

Real relationships require authenticity and transparency in order to form real bonds. When we embrace who we truly are, we create opportunities for deeper connections based on honesty and mutual understanding. Being transparent about our thoughts and feelings can also create empathy and trust in the relationship. 

Prioritizing authenticity in relationships not only helps us to express our true selves, but it also helps to create spaces where others feel safe to do the same. Here are some ways to practice authenticity in your daily life: 

Practicing authenticity involves being true to yourself and expressing who you genuinely are in various aspects of life. Here are some ways to cultivate authenticity:

  1. Know Yourself: Take time to reflect on your values, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses. Understanding yourself better helps you align your actions and decisions with your true self.
  2. Communicate Honestly: Speak honestly and openly about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. 
  3. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries that reflect your needs and values. Respect your own limits and communicate them assertively to others.
  4. Follow Your Joy: Engage in activities and pursuits that bring you joy and fulfillment.
  5. Embrace Vulnerability: Be willing to show vulnerability in your interactions. Authenticity often involves being open about both your strengths and your challenges.
  6. Practice Self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Accept your imperfections and recognize that authenticity includes embracing your whole self.
  7. Surround Yourself with Support: Build relationships with people who accept and appreciate you for who you are. Seek out supportive environments where you feel comfortable being yourself.
  8. Challenge Self-doubt: Believe in yourself and your ideas, opinions, or experiences. You can always learn from others, but you also have things to contribute that others can learn from.
  9. Align With Your Values: Make choices and decisions that align with your values and beliefs. Acting in alignment with your values fosters a sense of integrity and purpose.
  10. Reflect to Grow: Regularly reflect on your experiences and interactions. Learn from challenges and successes to continue evolving.

By practicing authenticity, you can cultivate deeper connections with others, enhance your self-esteem, and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life that is true to yourself and that honors the relationships with those around you.