August 2, 2021

How to Stop Trading in your Authenticity for Approval (& Why you need to do it).


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“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ~Brené Brown


I know many of us at some stage will have heard the advice to “be ourselves.”

We might even highly value authenticity, honesty, and truth, but sometimes it can be hard to fully live it, right?

I remember finding that particular advice so irritating when I was hearing it in recovery or on my personal growth journey. How can I be myself if I don’t even know myself? What does being myself even mean? Or even, of course, I can’t be myself; nobody would like the real me.

The things that irritate us can generally be our greatest teachers, and when I eventually leaned into this idea of being myself, I discovered the true power and freedom in embracing it.

Living our lives inauthentically is missing out on living our truth. It dismisses the rich, raw realness we uniquely exude. It forsakes our free self for a fictitious character we think will be liked. It keeps us misaligned, disconnected, and out of sync with who we’re here to be.

And that does not feel good.

In fact, it can be incredible anxiety-provoking, depressing, and detrimental to our self-esteem to consistently live in disharmony with our authentic selves.

So let’s stop doing that and choose authenticity instead.

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

Here are five ways to get started:

1. Get to know yourself

Yes, being yourself is hard when you don’t know yourself. So instead of getting frustrated at that fact, we can give ourselves the gift of a lifetime and choose to start discovering our true selves. Pay attention to yourself more. Notice: what lights you up? What turns you off? What matters to you? What do you love? What do you hate? Start enjoying the things that make you different, unearthing the uniqueness you hold.

Hear your personal needs, listen to your intuitive voice, get clear on what recharges you, what makes you laugh, what you admire in others, what you care about most. And find ways to live in alignment with what you discover.

2. Practice using your voice

Own your individuality by vocalising it more. What are your preferences? What easy decisions can you make to actually suit yourself more? This doesn’t have to be big things (trust me, I know how difficult it can be to make decisions!), but start finding ways that you can choose your authentic truth in small but significant steps.

Maybe it’s saying no to movies you hate watching, maybe it’s expressing what you want for dinner, maybe it’s simply making sure your coffee order is heard correctly. Look for opportunities to make choices that are your own. Practice sharing your opinion with people you feel comfortable with. Get your vocal chords around your authentic expression.

3. Embrace imperfection and vulnerability

Take the mask off. Stop trying to be perfect. Give yourself permission to be an imperfect, messy, emotional, and completely acceptable human. The more you embrace your gorgeous imperfection, the more at home you’ll feel within yourself. You are going to make mistakes, you are going to mess up, you are not going to be for everyone. That is all okay.

The biggest barriers to our authenticity are these three: self-doubt, shame, and “shoulds.”

They can all be conquered by embracing the vulnerability of showing up, being seen, and doing what aligns us to our truth.

Screw the perceived expectations or ideas others might have about how we’re meant to be. Trust yourself enough to stand in the sacred power of your truth, even if it’s shaky, uncomfortable, or scary right now.

4. Back yourself

Have your own back. Yes, it can be scary to embrace ourselves fully. So be there for yourself. Give yourself a boost, remind yourself of your worthiness, be the loving-kindness you want to receive from others. As fear arises, step into your courage, connecting to the heart of who you are and committing to striding forward in your authenticity.

Remind yourself of your goal. Is it to be yourself or is it to be liked? Are you willing to trade your authenticity for approval? For the fickle and fleeting “acceptance” of others at the expense of yourself? Or are you going to set yourself free, even if it’s risky?

Courage is contagious and the more you embody it, the more you could actually gift others the permission to be themselves too.

5. Boundaries

Boundaries are one of the cornerstones to our self-esteem. Without them we are not protecting our aliveness, which is at the core of our connection to ourselves and others. Boundaries are not about shutting people out, they’re not selfish, and they are not a bad word. They are a form of self-respect, the simple wisdom of when to say yes and when to say no. They are the embodied expression of our preferences.

When we connect to our authenticity, we begin to recognise what is and isn’t okay for us and that it’s safe for us to establish that with others. We lose ourselves when we perpetually people please. Boundaries show us clearly where we end and others begin.

Begin small. Take your time. Let yourself get used to languaging what you want and don’t want. And remember, that when we set boundaries, we give people back their responsibility to manage their own emotions. They were never ours to own anyway.

You deserve to enjoy living in your authenticity. You are so worthy, so lovable, so acceptable, and so valid exactly as you are right now with everything that makes you you.

Own it. Enjoy it. Let it radiate from you.


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