Authenticity defined — and four daily practices to living life true to yourself.

This is Part 2 in a free three-part series.
  • Part 1 (authenticity matters) is here, and
  • Part 3 (practicing authenticity) is here.

If you are interested in living authentically but aren’t sure how — this article is for you. 

The importance of authenticity is clear. Movies, musicals, and even academic literature discuss the importance of living true to yourself.

What is not clear is how to live authentically. The remainder of this article looks to remedy that issue by introducing the Four Components of Authenticity™ and providing a set of helpful guidelines for authentic living.

Let's start by defining authenticity. Beginning with the definition makes sure you and I are on the same page. Then, I'll describe the Four Components of Authenticity™ and share authenticity guidelines for each component.

Authenticity — Defined

Thankfully, Dr. Brené Brown breaks down authenticity very clearly in her book The Gifts of Imperfection

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.

Choosing authenticity means:

  • cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
  • exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
  • nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.”

I love this definition. Compared to other definitions of authenticity that I’ve seen over the years, this definition is special for two reasons:

  1. it is a call to action — the definition starts by stating that authenticity is a daily practice. This definition invites us to recognize that authenticity requires our active participation and encourages us to make conscious choices moment to moment, each and every day; 
  2. it is comprehensive — the definition breaks down and explains each of authenticity's core parts. The definition goes beyond telling us to practice authenticity daily — it also outlines what we need to practice.

For these reasons, this definition is perfect to use as the foundation for our guidelines!

Guidelines for authentic living

In the section below, I've broken down Dr. Brown's authenticity definition into Four Components of Authenticity™ — self-knowledge, courage, compassion, connection.

When implemented correctly, the guidelines help you cultivate authenticity and enable you to live a life true to yourself.

However, there is a danger to watch out for. If you are not mindful, your limiting beliefs and perspectives will cause authenticity-crushing “self-talk.” This harmful “self-talk” will corrupt your implementation of the guidelines and hold you back from living authentically. 

I've assigned each component a daily practice and an authenticity guideline — the authenticity guideline describes how to put the daily practice into action. Also, to help you make the most of each authenticity guideline and avoid the danger described above, I’ve included common missteps to keep an eye out for below. Reflecting and staying aware will help you observe your potential missteps and harmful “self-talk.” Once you observe your destructive “self-talk,” you’ll be able to replace it with messages that empower you to implement the guidelines and live authentically.


Authenticity Component #1:

Self-knowledge

Daily Practice

Embrace who you are 

Authenticity Guidelines

  • Let go of who you think you are supposed to be
  • Accept and love who you are

Common Missteps

  • Focusing and behaving on how you think others want you to behave
  • Not investing time to learn about yourself
  • Not ensuring your actions reflect who you really are

Authenticity Component #2:

Courage

Daily Practice

Cultivate courage

Authenticity Guidelines

  • Set boundaries
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable when appropriate within the boundaries

Common Missteps

  • Expecting yourself or others to be perfect
  • Sharing everything with everyone
  • Staying closed off to everyone

Authenticity Component #3:

Compassion

Daily Practice

Exercise compassion

Authenticity Guidelines

  • Welcome that everyone has strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify and celebrate your (and others) strengths
  • Identify and celebrate your (and others) weaknesses

Common Missteps

  • Labeling your (or others) weaknesses as “wrong” or “bad” 
  • Not recognizing or celebrating your (or others) strengths

Authenticity Component #4:

Connection

Daily Practice

Nurture connection

Authenticity Guidelines

  • Approach all relationships with the belief you are enough — and those around you are enough

Common Missteps

  • Putting yourself or others down
  • Focusing on lack and problems
  • Confusing being enough to having to complete the task on your own
  • Not trusting that you have the skills, resources, and smarts to address any situation (and, yes, asking for help is addressing a situation)

My aim in creating this three-part series is to make it faster and easier for you to enjoy the benefits of living true to yourself. 

In Part 1, I shared why authenticity matters. In this part, I introduced you to four guidelines to cultivate authenticity. The next (and last) part is focused on putting the guidelines into practice. 

Over the years, I’ve studied and implemented at least 10 different methodologies to live more authentically. However, the system that unified all of the methods together is Human Design.

In the last article in this series, I'll introduce you to the Human Design system. The article describes how to use Human Design to empower authentic living and efficiently implement the daily practices described above. At the end of the article, I'll invite you to use the Human Design system through the tools I've created here at Live Your Design.

Are you ready for the next step? Click here to continue with Part 3: Practicing Authenticity.