Hannah Wilson portrait

Hannah Wilson

Authenticity is about presence, living in the moment with conviction and confidence and staying true to yourself. Authentic is defined as: “not false or copied; genuine; real” and can also be described as “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”

Authenticity is something I think, talk, read and listen about a lot. It is a word I mull over and explore. I have blogged about it, spoken about it at events and built it into training I have designed and led.

I don’t know what my parents put in my porridge when I was growing up but since I was a teen I have been stubbornly authentic. I describe myself as Marmite, I don’t evoke neutral responses, you either love me or you hate me, and I am fine with that.

There is a distinction between being liked and being respected at work, I care about being respected for my personal and professional integrity, I don’t need to be liked by others for my own sense of self-worth as I like myself. I am self-assured about my own worth. I self-validate who I am.

I am conscious that others do not have the self-confidence and high self-esteem that I have and that they want to work on it and nurture it. I am also acutely self-aware that confidence can be interpreted as arrogance if it becomes too amplified. It is a fine balancing act between being confident, being humble and being true to yourself.

A thought leader you cannot avoid when you are reading about what it means to live an authentic life and what it means to be your authentic self is the brilliant Brene Brown:

“To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect – and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worth of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practising authenticity”.
Brene Brown

This quote is so rich and dense with our values I am going to unpack each one she mentions, ironically we have already explored a lot of them as part of our #DailyWritingChallenge values journey over the last 7 weeks as we use the social isolation time to look inwards:

  • Courage: being yourself means digging deep and revealing the real you, your whole self and not being a chameleon who transforms into the person other people want or expect to see.
  • Perfection: once we recognise and accept that we are all flawed, we can stop comparing ourselves and we can manage our inner critic, slowly turning the volume down on the negative self-talk.
  • Vulnerability: removing the mask, exposing our hearts and souls, lets others see the real us, our core, this can feel scary but it is also very empowering.
  • Self-belief: our confidence is worn on the outside, our self-esteem is how we feel on the inside, we need to have the conviction to believe in our skills, qualities and strengths, we need to know the value that we can bring.
  • Self-love: we all want to be loved, but we need to first seek that love from within, rather from outside, if you love yourself, including the imperfections, then the wall comes down to welcome others to do the same.
  • Acceptance: the word tolerance is used a lot these days, but no-one wants to be tolerated, as there is a sense of people having to put up with something or someone, we all seek a sense of belonging, we all want to be seen and heard, we all need to be accepted.
  • Grace: this is the one I grapple with in this context, I don’t see myself as being physically graceful, I think this is because I am tall/ big, and have always been teased for being clumsy, but my actions and attitude can be graceful, I can honour myself and others.
  • Gratitude: we have lots to be grateful for and we can often forget this, we can appreciate the external things, the material goods, but we also need to practise being grateful for the things that are intangible, the qualities we have nurtured over time, the the things that make us unique.
  • Joy: our personal fulfilment, our sense of satisfaction and our joy in being alive, in being ourselves, is amplified when we are comfortable in our own skin and we surround ourselves with people who celebrate our authentic selves.
  • Mindfulness: being mindful is another quality I am nurturing, I am empathetic and compassionate to others, I am emotionally intelligent, yet I am candid, direct and can be harsh with my words as I give feedback at times, I am practising how to be mindful in how I gift advice.

I think the verb choice is important in this quote: to cultivate, to believe, to learn, to invite, to practise. Each of these behaviours and actions are conscious and intentional, they are about transformation over time.

In my peer support coaching circles over the last 7 weeks we have talked a lot about things we are consciously embracing, things we are intentionally letting go of, we have focused time and attention on nourishing ourselves through daily practices that serve us.

Brene Brown quote. Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are.

One such daily ritual that I recommend is the self-empowerment from the practice of Daily Affirmations.

Affirmations are a powerful way to improve your mindset on a daily basis, and research on The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention has shown that they can increase our feelings of self-worth. Affirmations are positive reminders or statements that can be used to encourage and motivate yourself or others. Often it’s a lot easier to affirm others than it is ourselves, but we need to remember to encourage ourselves as well.

Here is an example of an affirmation you could say with conviction to yourself each morning in the mirror until you believe it. It is the verbal Power Pose to shape your mindset of how you feel about yourself:

I give myself permission to do what is right for me.

I allow myself to be who I am without judgment.

I give myself space to grow and learn.

I listen to my intuition and trust my inner guide.

I trust that I am on the right path.

Being your authentic self is liberating and empowering. I highly recommend it as your time and energy can then be invested as a resource to serve your purpose.

Tanveer Naseer quote. Authenticity isn't about being the "real me", but being true to our purpose and values that drive us.

Authenticity for me is:

  • Being true to yourself;
  • Thinking inwardly, looking outwardly;
  • Treating others with respect and kindness;
  • Living in the moment;
  • Listening with an open mind.