There is something refreshing and compelling about engaging with someone who knows their values and purpose and unabashedly shares that with the world. When we engage with these genuine, authentic people we often feel comfortable with them, and while they may have strong ideas and opinions, they communicate their thoughts and beliefs without a need to convince others that they are right. They also tend to walk their talk. Qualities that shine as genuine self-esteem.
While it may seem that these traits are innate and untrainable, that isn’t the case. No matter who you are, or where you come from, you can discover and nurture your own genuine, authentic self. And not just because it might make you more interesting, but more importantly; proud, confident, and happy to be the one and only you that walks this planet.
The Evolution of Authenticity
Homo sapiens, aka us humans, are neurologically wired in our limbic (social) brain to belong and fit in. Being a part of a tribe is what allowed us to survive against predators, and being cast out from this tribe was the worst form of punishment as it meant certain death. Today, however, when most encounters with predators are accompanied by a thick pane of glass, the tables have turned. Now, people who stand out from the crowd are the ones lauded, revered, and rewarded. They are the creatives, the entrepreneurs, the vanguards. The ones who have a deep-rooted, often inexplicable, need to break from the pack and forge their own path. This level of genuine, authentic character lies deep within all of us, however—oftentimes it’s just unheard, or, outright ignored, and needs to be teased out. Below are some considerations for discovering and incorporating more authenticity into your life.
Authenticity starts with self-reflection
Steve Jobs once said, “You are already naked, there is no reason not to follow your heart.” This simple statement is foundational to being authentic, as we are all essentially physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually naked. On one hand, we are all similar humans with common fears, longings and needs, and on the other, we are as individual as our fingerprint. Authenticity requires stopping the doings of life to create the space and time to contemplate and reflect with naked honesty on our unique gifts and talents, our personal values and beliefs, and our sense of purpose for our life. This self-study starts with our thoughts and intuition but develops as we practice moment-to-moment mindful noticing of what our bodily sensations are telling us, and, with curiosity, what feelings and thoughts accompany those sensations. This builds an internal compass that moves us through the world and provides direction when we’re not sure which way is up.
Authenticity requires vulnerability
Seeing your life as an adventure, or experiment for learning and self-growth, is an important mindset on the journey to discovering your authentic self. This mindset allows you to accept the inevitable mistakes and stumbles along the path and fills you with the courage to chart your own course even if it’s not the same path as your family, community, or culture. Genuine people not only know the naked truth about their successes and failings, good and not-so-good characteristics and traits, but they are openly vulnerable with others and are able to see their polarities in perspective as a human on the path to the freedom attained with being authentic. This complete acceptance of our whole self without judgment, self-criticism, or loathing builds self-compassion, which in turn expands our heart’s capacity to allow others to also be fully human themselves. Compassion for others and vulnerability for themselves are two distinct traits of authentic people.
Authentic People Disregard External Expectations
Author and Professor Brené Brown says, “let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are”. People who are aligned to their authentic self do not waste energy trying to be something other people want them to be. They embrace their true selves, life, and the world around them. Because they have an internal alignment to growth and freedom rather than operating from a fear of not meeting external expectations or the parameters of others, they have genuine self-worth. They avoid putting on masks to fit in with others (except during covid), which saves energy for manifesting their dreams. They may consciously adjust their style of communication with different people, but do not change the essence of what they stand for.
An Authentic Motto: Progress over perfection
Achieving perfection is a tall, almost impossible, order, yet it’s typically what we expect of ourselves. Striving for perfection only allows for one single possible outcome to satisfy us, when in reality, 99.9% of the time we arrive at a different destination. Ultimately this means that an overwhelming majority of the probable outcomes will be seen as failure, which when finally considered, can incite crippling anxiety. Fear of failure sets in and inaction ensues. On the other side of the coin, authentic people strive for progress over perfection. Their fear of failure is replaced with personal responsibility and integrity for doing their best from being the most aligned that they can be in any given moment.
Authenticity is a Skill, not a Trait
Because we live in a highly competitive and judgemental world full of criticism, opinions, and polarization, layered with inappropriate images and messages of unrealistic beauty, attainment, and expectations, we need a practice to connect with our essential truth. This practice is mindfulness and compassion. Mindfulness creates the noticing and curiosity to resonate with what is true in our body and mind, and compassion enlarges our heart to include ourselves and others without the paralysis that comes from shame-induced judgment and criticism, the main hurdle to following our heart. Learn more about mindfulness and meditation.
When we genuinely believe in our truth and confirm it by paying attention to our body sensations and feelings, we align ourselves internally and externally. Then there is no reason not to follow our hearts and support others to do the same.
What is Mountain Trek?
Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out below: