What does it mean to be authentic? The particulars are different for each of us, of course, because we all have different attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, skill sets, knowledge, goals, and values. In a general sense, though, authenticity is the same for everyone: It is about being your true self. This is the law of authenticity: The real you is the best you.
Being your authentic self feels natural, so much so that when you experience it you probably don’t even notice it. On the flip side, we all know it when we’re not being our natural selves. We feel uncomfortable, awkward even, perhaps unconfident and stressed, and more often than not, after being in a situation where we don’t feel as if we are being our true selves, we’ll feel drained.
There is a difference between tired and drained. Tired is a physical state. But that drained, emptied-out feeling comes from the mental effort of forcing yourself to act in a way that is not natural for you, when you are doing something that doesn’t feel quite right, something that feels inauthentic.
What is it that goes through our minds when we are not being ourselves?
Over the years I have asked many people this question and the most frequent answers are:
- I don’t like this situation, but I’m trying to be polite about it.
- I don’t like this person, but I’m trying to act in an appropriate way.
- I need to act more like a successful person does.
- If people don’t respond positively to me, at least I’ll have an excuse if I don’t act like myself.
- I am uncomfortable and don’t know what to do about it.
And what is consistent about all these responses? They either represent things we feel we should do or a general fear of feeling vulnerable. We put on a false face when, for whatever reasons, we dread a situation or feel we are not up to it.
Authenticity is the keystone to likability, because it gets at its essence: The real you is the best you, and it’s the most powerful tool for forming real connections.
When you drop the façade you put on or show off your vulnerability to someone, you’re more likely to connect with them because they see you as real. There are so many situations where being authentic and vulnerable can work for you – so why aren’t you letting your guard down yet?