Authentic self refers to your genuine person; who you really are at the very core of your being.
Over your lifetime you have assumed numerous roles; son/daughter, sibling, friend, parent, senior citizen, caregiver or caretaker. These are a sampling of some of the myriad labels used to describe one’s outwardly visible existence.
Society has certain expectations to accompany each label you acquire. There are also stereotypes and generalizations attached to various roles. If you cite your occupation as a teacher, doctor, waitress or politician, you are automatically designated attributes which may, or may not, be accurate.
All the various “hats” you wear are indicative of what you do, but not adequate descriptions of who you really are on the inside. Your jobs, relationships, and titles do not define you unless you let them.
Who you really are, your “authentic” self, is a composite of your skills, talents, acquired wisdom, core values, and beliefs.
It takes scrupulous introspection and practice of self-awareness to discover your authentic self. Too often you might coast along in life willing to put your “self” on the back burner in order to be what you perceive others want you to be.
Some of the reasons for denying your authentic self:
You cannot be true to your “self” while you live in fear of displeasing others. Emotional integrity demands that you be honest with yourself and with others, even when doing so might “make waves.”
When you continually say what you perceive others want to hear, just to keep the peace, you are burying your authentic self.
Living to fulfill another’s expectations
Yur dreams and goals must truly be your own if you are to be your authentic self. Parents work and sacrifice to give their children the best educational opportunities, but that gift often comes with the price tag of expectations. Communication is the remedy for insuring all parties concerned are on the same page with what is expected of an individual. It is up to the individual to lead the way in honoring his authentic self.
Living by another’s schedule
Parents may want their child to marry by a certain age, or to provide grandchildren, or prevail upon their child to adopt their attitude toward saving and investing. Teachers or mentors may encourage their students to follow in their footsteps, or steer them into the ideal career choice. Every individual has the opportunity to design his own life. Living by the schedules of another’s dreams and goals might be in direct conflict with living an authentic life. Sometimes a displaced inner voice is the erring schedule. If thoughts are riddled with “shoulds” as in, “I want to do this, but I should do that,” then the action is often motivated by guilt and authentic self is undermined.
Myths about self
Everyone has a life chain; their connection to the past, who they are and where they came from. Often “self” is ruled by generations of habit. Perhaps all the generations of men in the family made a career of the military, all the women were homemakers, farming was the “family business” or one comes from a long line of Republicans. There is a strong emotional pull and misguided belief that you must live up to the family chain and emulate those who came before, even when deep inside you have other desires for a fulfilled life. You cannot be your authentic self while you are attempting to repeat history because of preconceived notions of the way life should be.
According to Dr. Phil McGraw in his book “Self Matters,” you may initiate your life in one direction, with a script of attitudes and beliefs and then with maturity and experience, you might sometimes find it necessary to change directions. You may flounder, search and redesign until you are comfortable with your choices deep in the core of your being. It is never too late to become acquainted with your authentic self.
If you practice introspection and self-awareness, good communication, honesty with yourself and others, you are apt to be able to follow your own dreams and goals and live up to your potential as your fulfilled authentic self.
“To thine own self be true” (Shakespeare)