046: What is Authenticity?


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Learn what makes authentic self-expression authentic.

I run a website about authenticity, so I should know what authenticity is, right?

Well, I forgot.

I had that feeling when you say a word out loud over and over again and you stop understanding the word’s meaning and begin to only hear the word’s sounds.

I used this episode to put everything out on the table and remind myself of what authenticity is (and also what authenticity is not.)

In this episode, I answer three big questions:

  • What defines authentic self-expression?
  • How do we know when we’re acting authentically?
  • How do we uncover our own authenticity and bring more of it into our creativity and relationships?

Show Notes

Why I’m Passionate About Authenticity 03:38

  • From a young age I was attracted to people who had a solid grounding within themselves.
  • I’ve struggled with my sense of self for most of my life. I didn’t have a sense of who I was separate from other people and what they wanted to do.
  • I wanted to know if I was more than just a conditioned ball of actions which I learned from my family and friends.
  • I wanted to know why I felt superior to some people and inferior to others.
  • I tried imitating how famous people were in order to be likeable.

Authenticity is Difficult to Describe 09:50

  • Authenticity is not a set of behaviours or techniques; it’s a state of being which occurs naturally from the absence of fear.
  • We are inherently authentic. Just existing in the world is authentic.

Authenticity is a state of being, not a state of doing.

  • Authenticity is an in-the-moment flow of life. Like the way a river flows, or a snowflake forms, or a sunset sets – authenticity is completely unique and can not be copied or replicated.

What Authenticity Is Not 16:13

  • Authenticity is not:
    • Asking someone how they are when I’m not actually interested in their answer.
    • Breaking an awkward silence with random chit-chat when actually I don’t have anything to say.
    • Saying yes when I actually want to say no.
  • We usually act inauthentically when there is a fear present of being abandoned or not accepted by someone.
  • Assertiveness is a mode of expression which is aimed at expressing what’s true for you while respecting another person at the same time.
  • Authenticity is not rigidly following a system without asking ourselves why we’re following it.
  • However, even if we are rigidly following a system, it’s impossible for our authenticity to be completely suppressed, it will always come through in some way.

Why Is It So Difficult to Be Authentic? 24:40

  • Why do we do things which aren’t authentic to us?
  • We are hard wired to feel accepted, valid and loved. We are afraid of that love leaving us. As a result, we are highly aware of any actions which might cause us to be unlovable and we adapt our behaviour to stop this from happening.
  • For most of my life I didn’t have a sense of my inner-voice. I didn’t know what I genuinely wanted and didn’t want, so I just went along with what everyone else wanted.
  • I didn’t think it was a big deal to go along with what others wanted and ignore what I wanted. I didn’t know that I was abandoning myself every-time I ignored what felt right for me.
  • We tolerate unpleasant situations because we are afraid of losing acceptance and love. We interpret another people’s praise and affection as signs that we are worthy and acceptable. However, this isn’t the only source of acceptance.
  • We can authenticate ourselves from ourselves.

Bringing Our Authenticity to the Surface 29:21

  • Developing a compassionate relationship with yourself.
  • When we make ourselves the primary source of our love and validation, fear of being abandoned or rejected no longer affects our actions.
  • With less fear, authentic interactions begin to occur automatically.
  • Imagine a bunch of colourful balloons that are tied to a brick. Drop that brick in the ocean, and the balloons will go straight to the bottom. The brick represents fear – the fear of being abandoned, the fear of being rejected. If you remove that brick of fear, the balloons will rush to the surface as fast as they can.
  • Authentic self-expression is a beautiful thing. It is an incredibly dynamic and ever-evolving experience that happens in the present moment.
  • You cannot replicate authenticity. It is unique to the individual that it lives inside of.

    Authenticity is not a thing but an event. It’s a real-time expression of the truth that you feel inside you; the truth of your feelings, the truth of your thoughts, the truth of who you are.

Send Me an Email! 33:22

What do you struggle with the most in expressing yourself authentically? I’d love to hear from you.

Mentioned in This Episode

Featured image by Kevin Dooley

Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

The Podcast

The B is for Being Podcast is a collection of conversations with friends, psychologists, and thought-leaders on the most effective tools for uncovering authentic expression and navigating the obstacles we may encounter on the way to discovering ourselves.

About Benjamin

Hi, I’m Benjamin. I podcast and blog about authentic expression and self-discovery. I also make slow-videos for rest and reflection. You can read more about me here.

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