Are You Hiding The Authentic YOU?
Being authentic requires courage, but even more importantly, you must know who you really are!
Growing up, our TV spent most of its time in the closet. It was set free from its prison for special events like the Olympics or an occasional Friday night when we could watch TV for a whole hour! Back in the day, my siblings and I didn’t even mind that our TV was tiny – smaller than my computer screen today. We were just happy when we were allowed to watch it!
When we went to Nana’s house, the rules were different; the same was true when we went to some dear family friends. I’m not sure they ever turned their TV off. That’s where I watched The Lawrence Welk Show and To Tell the Truth for the first time.
Watching To Tell the Truth was like being Nancy Drew, at least in my mind. Just in case you’ve never seen To Tell the Truth, it consisted of four celebrity panelists – people like Ronald Reagan, Johnny Carson, Dick Van Dyke, and Peggy Cass, who tried to determine which of the three contestants was telling the truth about their unusual occupation or life experience. One of the contestants would tell the truth, while the other two would make up a story or “lie.” In the end, the host would ask, “Will the real ________ please stand up?” and that was my chance to see if my hunch was correct.
Pretending to be someone you aren’t is fun when you are a contestant on a show like To Tell the Truth. You may even enjoy dressing up and pretending on Halloween or to attend Comic-Con, but, in real life, acting as if you are someone other than who you are definitely has its downsides! People are naturally attracted to those who are authentic – themselves! It just feels right.
Authenticity is choosing to show up, be real, be honest, and allow your true self to be seen. Brene Brown describes authenticity as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
Brian Goldman and Michael Kerris describe authenticity as “The unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.”
David Burkus describes authenticity as “The alignment between your beliefs, your values, and your behaviors.” When these three things are in conflict, you aren’t being authentic.
In spite of how appealing authentic people are, being authentic is trickier than you might think! Being real in a culture that favors fitting in may tempt you to pretend. Add to that the desire to belong or be perfect, and soon you are hiding yourself in big and small ways.
Here are four signs you might be hiding the authentic you:
1. People Pleasing
On the surface, people pleasers seem to be likable creatures! After all, their whole goal is to please others. They rarely say no, are dependable, and eagerly help out family and friends whenever they are in need, even if they have pressing matters of their own.
The problem is that people pleasers are so focused on others that they have become completely oblivious to their own desires and needs. When your focus is always on pleasing and keeping others happy, you forget what pleases and makes you happy! That frequently leads to anger, resentment, and passive aggressive behaviors like being sarcastic, joking in a cutting way, or engaging in actions that allow your frustration to subtly seep out.
Scripture urges us to love and serve others, and at times that may mean being sacrificial, but if you are consistently loving and serving others to the detriment of your own needs and well-being, that’s no good! After all, scripture also states that we are to love others the way we love ourselves – not better than we love ourselves. (Matt. 22:39)
Trying to please others is an indirect way of controlling and manipulating others that is motivated by fear not love. And when you are all about pleasing others, the real you is hidden! Remember, people appreciate someone who is genuine and real, even if you are a bit quirky and not the same!
2. Seeking Acceptance and/or Approval
The desire to belong is human – fitting in feels good. However, when you feel a need to alter who you are or to perform in order to gain acceptance or approval, that’s another story – it’s inauthentic.
When you fear rejection or failure, you will seek acceptance and approval. Remember, as a believer, you already have God’s approval and it is not based on your performance, but on how much He loves and values you! With that in mind you can admit your mistakes and own your short comings.
Did you know that more women are more prone to perfectionism than men? While you might not describe yourself as a perfectionist, there’s a good chance that you have some area of your life where you hold out an unreasonable standard for yourself.
Making an effort to do your best is commendable, but attempting to be perfect – that’s impossible! Not to mention that trying to be perfect is exhausting! Not only does it keep you working overtime hiding all your imperfect bits, it also keeps you from being vulnerable or asking for help.
Strangely, most of us are not drawn to perfect people. We are drawn to relatable people; people that are willing to admit they are not perfect and don’t have it altogether.
4. Not Using Your Voice
Rather than focusing on what you need or expressing your preferences you remain silent. If you continue to be reluctant to voice your needs, feelings, or preferences your voice disappears. That’s a sad place to be and often leads to resentment, depression, anger, and more!
Authenticity, What’s the Big Deal?
In today’s world, image reigns. Your brand and the story you allow the world to see on social media isn’t always authentic, yet we crave genuine, real-life connections with others.
Authenticity means showing up as the same person at work and in your personal life. And if you are a leader, authenticity may make the difference between your success or your lack of success. As a leader, who you are, is who you attract! John Maxwell describes it as The Law of Magnetism in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. If you want to attract people who are authentic, you have to be authentic. And there are some very good reasons to desire authentic people around you. Authentic people are:
- Self-reflective and connected to their feelings
- Able to make decisions
- Not motivated by the need to please, gain acceptance, or get approval.
- Open to other perspectives
- Values driven
- Kind & respectful to others
Ready to embark on being a more authentic version of YOU; the person that God created you to be? Here are a few ways to encourage the true you to emerge:
1. Embrace Your Identity in Christ.
Take time to really meditate on who you are in Christ so that it soaks in and becomes an integral part of who you are!
2. Connect to Your Feelings
You can’t be the true to you if you aren’t clear on what you are feeling, thinking, or needing.
Take time to process, reflect, and journal. Tune into how you are feeling and what you need. Then don’t be shy, ask for what you need. Don’t assume others will know, because odds aren’t they won’t figure it out! Instead, communicate your needs or desires as clearly as you can.
Need a place to start? Try this 30-Day Feelings Challenge.
3. Deal with Issues
When issues pop up, be swift to address them with others and do it in a direct manner. Let them know how you feel in a loving and tactful way so you are able to move on!
4. Practice Self-Care
Remember, you are only able to love others to the extent that you love yourself. If you make it a habit to care for you, you will extend that same grace to those around you! If you don’t, everyone misses out.
5. Operate Out of Abundance
When you believe that there is more than enough to go around it changes how you show up! It frees you up to just be you and you don’t have to try to be something other than you in hopes of more.
6. Let Go of the Outcome
Stop trying to control the results, your future, and your relationships. The more you try to strive for a certain outcome, the more you will be tempted to compromise who you really are.
Trust that God has your best in mind and that you don’t have to pretend to be someone else, or achieve more, to be valued. You are enough! You are already abundantly loved by God – He can’t love you any more than He already does! The outcome is in His hands.
7. Risk Being Vulnerable
Being authentic is not always the safe option, but keeping it real is the best option! In fact, it’s tough to truly experience love without vulnerability!
In the game of life, showing up and being the true you is best! Not the easiest choice, but the best choice! And when you choose to be the real you, it encourages those around you to follow suit. What better way to be a positive influence!
Where does the real YOU need to show up?