If you are anything like me, you crave authenticity. I have spent my whole life with corporations, religions, and government parties attempting to manipulate and draw me into their paradigm so they could dictate me to be one of their faceless minions. They are all great at putting a smile on their faces and telling me what I want to hear. I despise this more than being a child who is being told to go to bed. I want to know the truth and I want myself and the people around me to be authentic. There is a classic Gandhi quote which I like to paraphrase, “Be the change you wish to see”. In response to Gandhi's wisdom, here is a short article with five steps I have taken to be more authentic and I hope you find them insightful.
- Be honest with yourself. I’ve heard people say you cannot love others if you do not love yourself first. I believe authenticity works in the same way. I have found in order to be authentic with other people I need to be this first with myself. For instance, my journey with religion is a great example. I spent years of my life trying to earn affection and affirmation from my peers and superiors through practicing spirituality. I traded being honest with myself about who I am and what I believe just to feel that sense of belonging. I have come to learn you can’t be authentic with those around you until you are real with yourself!
- Be deliberate about internal, emotional awareness. This skill is paramount. You can almost look at it like being able to identify when you are emotionally bleeding. I find that personal awareness breeds authenticity. When people ask me how I am doing and I have consciously already been in check with my inner man it is much easier to engage beyond the generic “I’m good, how are you?” response. Recently I came to conclude my awareness of emotional struggles is like finding a cut on my leg and promptly taking care of it. What if I never knew I was cut? How long would I bleed before it disrupted other functions of my body? This thought process has helped me in my journey to being a more authentic man. I plan on continuing in this practice and hope to stop bleeding emotionally!
- Have the hard conversations and say what you are actually thinking tactfully. Coming from a polite, southern Minnesota culture where being kind overrides being honest at almost any cost, I have found legitimately speaking what is running through my head in a tactful, articulate manner is difficult. I have found the more I push beyond my insecurities and speak my mind I feel more true to myself and the people around me. It is as though in my communication of honesty I am depositing gold into an internal bank of self-worth which in turn enables me to be myself more and more.
- Get people to call you on your bull-shit. Surround yourself with people who won’t let you settle and who will push you beyond what you think you are capable of. My good buddy, Joshua, and I have taken up the habit of wagering against one another to push us in a direction that is more authentic and true to ourselves. The reality is those around you are more able to see the bigger picture. Good friends and family members who are in your inner circle are bound to see flaws that you never will. Creating an avenue for them to speak honestly about these areas has challenged me significantly and I want to do this more.
- Seek authenticity. I have come to believe in the journey to find authenticity you develop it. This one is the biggest for me. I personally believe that desiring this trait has set me on the path to becoming a more authoritative, pure, credible, and trustworthy man. It is like immersing oneself into a subject. The more I study and practice electricity the closer I become to being a master electrician. Becoming an authentic man is the same. The more I study and practice authenticity the closer I become to truly being an authentic, bonafide man.
These are the most practical ways I have found to help grow authenticity in my own life. I hope this encourages you to join me in this journey. I will give you one word to heed, however. Make no expectations. Should you choose to walk down this path and intentionally go after authenticity know that this journey will not look like you expect.
I want to hear from you. What are some ways you practice being authentic?