Authentiek zijn, hoe doe je dat?

Being authentic, how can you do it?

We’ve been throwing these two words around a lot lately: ‘authentic self’. That’s just to show how strongly we stand behind them. It’s not a surprise during these times of social media… we only prefer to show the good things, just take a look around and see how many posts only refer to the best things happening in our lives… beautiful vacation photos or videos of what we’ve achieved. Where are the photos of our daily lives that show how vulnerable and human we are? We prefer not to show those. But trust me, you can only achieve happiness by being yourself and remaining authentic! But what does that mean? And at what point are you yourself? Well I’ll tell you all about what it is and how you can try to follow your heart to becoming the best version of yourself!

What does it mean?

First of all, the term ‘authentic’ self means being your true self and being true to yourself (yes, there is a slight but important difference there!). The true you is the person that is completely in line with how you view yourself, the values you find important and the morals you want to portray. Being true to yourself means keeping faith with your self image, values and morals, in other words: don’t be who other people in certain situations want you to be (or who you think they want you to be).

Of course all of this is easier said than done, sometimes it’s easier just to go along with the situation and the people involved, for example to protect yourself either from physical harm or emotional harm. But none of your role models would be role models if they just acted like sheep being herded forward, so neither should you! Always strive to know yourself better than the day before, your personality traits, behavior and values have made you the person you are so don’t turn your back on them. Embrace your vulnerability and don’t be afraid to set your own limits, keep this in mind when setting goals and motives for yourself.

Your motives and goals should reflect who you are and what you believe, this can be considered as an ‘intrinsic motive’. As opposed to an ‘extrinsic motive’, where your goals are determined by what other people want or expect from you.

How do you become your authentic SELF?

Now what do you need to get to that stage of being your ‘authentic self’? Well as I said before, the first thing is knowing yourself, your behaviors, your motives, goals, vulnerabilities and limits. Once these things have become somewhat clear for you, you’ll feel so much more comfortable in your own skin and won’t feel the need to compare yourself to others. You’ll also be able to deal with criticism much easier and be able to use it to know and better yourself even more!

You may have noticed that so far everything has been focused on you, which is kinda the point, but once you’ve come to this stage the only real way forward is paying attention to others around you. Don’t overlook people, especially those who could use your help in whatever small way possible. Giving your attention to others allows you to listen to them actively, this means understanding what they’re saying and what they mean. Besides that it’s also a sign of mutual respect that doesn’t go unnoticed! It creates a stronger bond between people plus helps you to learn from their experiences!

But of course, every now and then life can throw a curveball at you, and there will come a day when you find yourself in a situation you didn’t expect or don’t want to be in. But then again, that’s life.. Try to accept changes like these and remain true to yourself in these situations. Because those are the moments you’ll need to be your authentic self the most. These are the moments that truly lead to self improvement.

An exercise

Being authentic is knowing your values. That’s why this exercise can teach you a lot:

  • Grab an empty sheet of paper and make a list of values you find important. For example: freedom, being friendly, ambition, trust, humor, optimism, growth, wisdom, reliability, adventure, honesty, simplicity. Add more words you feel are important to you.

  • Circle three words that are the most important to you. Authenticity requires self knowledge! This will help you to better understand who you are and to find your authentic SELF.