What Is Authenticity?
Living an authentic life has become becoming an increasingly popular ideal. Individuals considered authentic are those who generally strive to align their actions with their core values and beliefs with the hope of discovering, and then acting in sync with, their "true selves." When people act in ways that violate their self-concept, they may experience a range of negative feelings from mild discomfort to heavy guilt.
There is debate over whether people actually possess an innate self and need to uncover it, or whether one's true self is flexible and determined by the choices they make throughout their lives. Authenticity was long thought to be too difficult to define and measure. Then in 2000, Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman developed their Authenticity Inventory, comprised of four key factors: awareness, unbiased processing, behavior, and relational orientation. Using this tool, they found that being authentic can provide a host of benefits, including a strong sense of self-worth and self-competence, a greater ability to follow through on goals, and more effective coping skills.
How to Be Authentic
Being authentic involves the ability to be introspective and understand what motivates oneself. Such accurate self-knowledge can be a double-edged sword, though, if it reveals uncomfortable truths or weaknesses that one would rather not admit. However, advocates of authenticity argue that in the long run, it’s better to be accurate than biased in the long run.
Being authentic can also put a person at odds with their larger peer group if their emerging perspective is an unpopular one. However, authentic people wouldn’t look to others for approval or surrender to the social pressures of what they should or shouldn't do. The validation they derive from following an internal compass is sufficient for their mental well-being.