I am quite an authentic person; I am open about my faith and I express my opinions in a diplomatic fashion, even when they differ to my friends. I am honest about my feelings. I am open about my breakdown back in 2009. I am honest about the fact that I see a therapist and am actively working on being my best self.
In spite of this, when I sat down to write this article I asked myself some confronting questions. Questions like ‘Do I tell white lies?’ and ‘Do I sometimes keep quiet rather than disagreeing?’ Once I realised that I do sometimes tell white lies, and that occasionally I do keep quiet rather than entering into a debate, I discovered that there was still some work to do when it came to my being completely authentic.
But wait, I had skipped the most important question of all! What constitutes an authentic person? The psychologists Brian Goldman and Michael Kernis define authenticity as “the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.” True authenticity involves complete honesty but contrary to popular belief that doesn’t have to mean being hurtful, there is always a way to be diplomatically honest and sensitive to others feelings.
Authentic people are also honest with themselves and are very aware of what their strong points and weak spots are.
They have taken the time to discover what their core values are and purposefully behave in ways which reflect them. An authentic person would not, for example, define themselves by the roles they inhabit, jobs they have or by where they live, they would view themselves as the culmination of their values, opinions, beliefs, abilities and wisdom.
Being authentic is often confused with being an open book, whereby you tell everyone your life story but this doesn’t have to be the case. Though being authentic requires a high level of openness this isn’t to say that the authentic person tells everyone everything. The standard practise of building trust before opening up to others still applies. The difference is that when the authentic person meets new people he or she chooses to be honest and open about their opinions, beliefs and feelings, regardless of the social environment they find themselves in.
Although it may be unrealistic to expect to be completely authentic one-hundred percent of the time, I felt that at the very least I wanted to stop telling white lies and adopt a more diplomatically honest approach to when my friends asked me for an opinion, be it on their outfit or an idea for their latest project.
Funnily enough I realised that when it came to my being asked for my opinion on my friends relationships and personal matters I was always diplomatically honest – the area where I still told white lies was more benign and related to when my friends asked me for my opinion on their makeup, outfit or latest creative endeavour. The reason why I told these white lies was invariably to protect my friends’ feelings and appear supportive but I realised that by not offering my honest opinion I was actually doing them a disservice. After all, if you can’t trust your friends to be honest with you, who can you trust? The key, however, was to be diplomatically honest.
Stay tuned – next Monday discover the three blocks to authenticity and how to overcome them.
Do you think you are an authentic person? Do you ever tell white lies? In what ways do you think you could be more authentic? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, I’d love to hear from you.
‘Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need To Live An Authentic Life’ by PhD Susan Campbell