The A-word July 23, 2014 – Posted in: Confidence – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I talk a lot about authenticity in my work, regularly encouraging my clients to find their authentic selves in order to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. So, what does it mean to be ‘authentic’?

If you look in a dictionary for a definition of authenticity you’ll find words like ‘real,’ ‘genuine,’ and ‘true’ used frequently. One definition, which I really like, says that authenticity is the “quality or condition of being real, trustworthy, or genuine.” So, why is this so important?

In a culture obsessed with competition and praise we have become very skilled at pretending to be the people we think we ‘should’ be in order to receive external validation rather than being the people we are and learning to self-validate. For example, I was speaking with a graduate recently who was worried he ‘should’ be climbing the corporate ladder but, actually, in his heart wants to explore new ways in which to generate an income from his family’s farm through eco-tourism. So, why ‘should’ he go corporate? Because this was the route promoted at school and university – it was the trajectory of his life thus far until he stopped to question it. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t for him right now and that’s OK. Being true to himself and the passion in his heart is far more likely to result in long term success and will certainly ensure he enjoys his working life today.

We are so lucky to live in a time where we can explore endless ways in which to earn a living. The necessary job-for-life culture is behind us (unless that’s what we choose) and increasing numbers of us are experiencing several careers before we retire – changing our work to reflect shifts in ourselves as we age and grow.

Another key area in which to express our authenticity is in our relationships. Only yesterday I was speaking with a client whose friends had challenged her on her inability to be vulnerable with them. Exploring this, she discovered a real fear of being ‘real’ in front of her friends in case they didn’t like or approve of her any more. Having admitted this my client was then able to make the connection between love and vulnerability; how she felt closer and more loving towards her friends when they opened up to her and yet how she was withholding this from them. It takes courage to be authentic and real, and it takes courage to be vulnerable but the truth of who we are enriches and enlivens our relationships.

So, if there’s an area of your life in which you feel like a square peg in a round hole then maybe its time to ask yourself how you could become more authentic in this area. Small changes can make the world of difference.

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