The Value of Authenticity: 5 Ways to Get “Real”

Whenever I post something on Facebook or my blog about how I am really doing, I’m always surprised by the comments I receive. Like the time I posted about staying in bed for two days, watching the entire first season of Downton Abbey, because I was just “done” with everything and everyone! Or, my post about my 10 Confessions or the 10 Major Mistakes I’ve Made This Month or Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom, or my Lame-O List! Even smaller posts, like how my kids are driving me nuts on a certain day or how I’ve just lost it and need to quarantine myself, always get the same reaction: “I love how real you are.”

 

The Value of Authenticity

I admit–I love that people love how real I am, because it is important to me to be real. I have always believed in the value of authenticity. I’ve read about authenticity, studied it, and pursued the authentic life for as long as I can recall; in my work as a psychologist I seek to help others live authentically too. But I am also sad when people say “I love how real you are,” because it implies that it’s unusual to be “real.” It’s sad that so many of us, especially women, have to feel like we are not authentic, like we cannot be “real” in our own lives.

 

I get it—it can be hard to be real. Like I said, I’ve worked on this my entire life. In fact, my first book, This is How We Grow, a memoir of the time after my sister and brother-in-law died and we went from three to six kids, is coming out next month. Next month! I have never been so nervous about “being real” in my life. Not only am I sharing a vulnerable moment or two; I am sharing an entire book of my vulnerable moments. It is completely terrifying to put myself out there like that.

 

However, it’s also freeing. Freeing to just be who I am, to share myself with others. It hasn’t always come easy. There have been plenty of times when I have tried to be someone else, or tried to hide who I really am, or even times when I just didn’t feel worthy of sharing myself with others. Many of these I write about in my book, because I want to be honest and real. Living authentically is living honestly. As I open up and share myself, I feel an ease and love in my life. I also find I am not the only one who feels like I do or thinks like I do. And, in sharing, I help others get to realize and feel they are not alone too.

 

Why is it so hard to “be real?”

Why is it so hard to just be who we are? After all, none of us really wants to be inauthentic. I think, deep down, we all wish we could feel free to just be ourselves. There are plenty of reasons why we fail to be “real,” including the following:

 

1)    We had poor role models of authenticity. Our parents, teachers, or others taught us to hide who we or to be someone we are not.

 

2)    We try to be someone else. Uncertain of who we really are, we “try on” identities like clothes. Or, we pretend to be like some ideal because we don’t really like who we are.

 

3)    We do it on purpose. Afraid to show how we really think and feel, we put on an act, afraid our true self isn’t good enough.

 

4)    We fall into the habit. Not wanting to dump on other people or share too much, we suck it up and act better than we feel. Then, we keep on doing it.We don’t necessarily want to be inauthentic, but we started pretending long ago and just aren’t sure how to stop.

 

5)    We start with good intentions, but forget to stop. Sometimes, it helps to act better than we feel. Even I have said that “Fake it ‘til you make it” The Value of Authenticity: 5 Ways to Get Real; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comcan really help, for a while. It can prevent a meltdown on a rough day and get us through tough moments. But only temporarily. We mustn’t let it continue indefinitely. That’s not the way of authenticity; it’s not real.

 

6)    But mostly, we aren’t “real” because of fear. We’re afraid people won’t like us. Afraid we’ll push people away by being too real. Afraid we will be judged, or that we won’t live up to who we, or others, think we are. Bottom line: Fear prevents authenticity. We must not give in to the fear.

 

 

5 Ways to Get “Real”

So how can value authenticity and live more authentically? Here are a few things I do that help me. I hope they will help you “get real” too:

 

1)    Learn to care more about who you really are than who anyone else wants you to be. I learned this long ago. It’s not about caring less what other people think of you. It’s about caring more what you think of you. Take some time to answer the following questions: 1) What do I enjoy? 2) What do I really dislike? 3) How do I feel right now? 4) What do I like about myself? 5) What do I not like so much? 6) What am I most afraid of someone finding out about me? Asking questions like these can help you get to know yourself better, to know what you think and feel. Knowing what is real is the first step in acting authentically.

(Some things that might help: How to Not Let Fear Get the Better of You; How to Embrace Strengths & Weaknesses; Frustration and Expectations; FEEL:How to Cope w/ Powerful Emotions; Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly)

 

 

2)    Get still and in touch with who you really are. It’s hard to know who you are when it’s all covered up with the craziness of life. We can get so caught up in all we have to do that we fail to be who we truly are. Slow down. Just for a few minutes. Sit quietly. Feel. Listen. Write what you discover about who you are. Make time to be still and listen, and repeat every single day.

(Some things that might help: Daily Mindfulness: 6 Ways to Put More “Being” into what you’re “Doing“; Recharge: Lessons Learned from SolitudeSlow Down & See: How to Appreciate the Richness of Life; Living a Life of Meaning & Purpose;  

 

 

3)    Share yourself with people you can trust. One mistake we make is we open up to the wrong people—friends who really don’t “get it” at all. Find someone(s) you trust. If you don’t have someone you trust, then it’s time to search for new friends and support people. Then, open up. Admit you’re having a hard day. Let them see you with your hair undone, in sweats, taking a day off. Let them see the real you, in little moments at a time. They’ll be more likely to be “real” around you, and eventually, you’ll both be real all the time.

(This might help when seeking good friendships: Women & Friendship: The ABC’s of Making and Keeping Friends)

 

 

4)    Starting right now, do something real. There’s no time like the present to live authentically. It may not be easy, but being real is as simple as justThe Value of Authenticity: 5 Ways to Get "Real"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com deciding to do it. Start small. Admit something you’ve been wishing you could admit. You don’t like the new TV show everyone is talking about. You don’t always love being a mom. You really hate doing housework, so you just aren’t going to do it today. Or what about admitting that you dream of being a singer or a business-owner or a race-car driver someday. Perhaps you aren’t as happy as you seem all the time. You struggle with anxiety or depression, or you need more from one of your relationships. Admitting is the first step to taking charge and making change. And, more often than not, you’ll find you’re not the only one who feels that way. In being real, we open ourselves up to connection. We connect with others by being authentic. (You can start by leaving a comment below!)

(Not sure you can do it? Read one of my “real” posts and you’ll see–you’re not alone: 10 Major Mistakes I’ve Made This Month, & Why It’s OK; “My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy!”: 10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane; Let’s Get Real: 10 Confessions from “The Psychologist, The Mom, & Me.”; 16 Things I’d Like My Postpartum Self to Know, 16 Years and 6 Kids Later; This is How We Grow: Preview Chapters of my new memoir!)

 

 

5)    Work on discovering your self-worth. At the core of authenticity is a deep understanding of who you really are. It’s a lifelong process, but learning to love and appreciate and value yourself, learning to see and feel your divine potential, is real. It’s the most real thing of all. Never give up on discovering and being who you really are. Never.

(These might help: 5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth; If Self-Esteem is a Myth, What is the Truth: Understanding Self-Worth; Self-Esteem and Self-Worth: 5 Things everyone should Know; Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth Q&A with Dr. Christina Hibbert)

 
 

Get real and grow with us!

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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s found that she learns and teaches the most when she is being real.[/author_info] [/author]

 
 

The Value of Authenticity: 5 Ways to Get "Real"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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About Dr. Christina Hibbert

Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She really hopes you’ll join the Personal Growth Group and choose to grow together!

Comments

  1. I love this blog! I often talk about transparency. Authentic transparency! There is nothing more refreshing than meeting people who have taken off their mask and are free to share their stories. We, as humans, connect to stories because stories touch our lives. We can listen to lectures, messages, sermons; however, it’s the stories within those dialogues that capture out attention and enter our hearts, and touch our souls. It’s the moment you feel “wow, it’s not just me. This happens to others too. You feel like this too?” The real challenge: finding people who are at a place in their life where they are capable of such authentic transparent friendships.

    • Thank you so much, Susan, for your thoughtful comment! I couldn’t agree more, it is refreshing to see people for who they really are. That is how we connect and love one another. And I also agree, it can be a challenge to find others who are ready to be transparent in friendships, however, when we do, oh, what a joy, right?! Thank you again for visiting my blog, and for sharing your beautiful words. 🙂

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