What is authenticity? Who am I?!

These are the questions I’ve been thinking about recently, but where to even start?

what-if-and-why-notDara over at Good at Life has dedicated this month as Authenticity August and it’s great to read her insights and advice and be inspired (I’d really recommend you take a look if you haven’t come across her blog before). One of her first posts of the month talks about letting go of what people think, and until recently I didn’t realise quite how much I struggle with this.

Often if I have an idea I’ll test it out with others, mention it in conversation, looking for confirmation that it ‘fits’ with who other people think I am, that it’s something they encourage and could see me doing. I shouldn’t be doing this. I think we should listen to others, because it’s important to know how we come across to other people and there are often truths in how others see us. But I don’t think we should ever let this dictate our actions or hold us back. We shouldn’t be looking for approval, only insights to help us to come to our own conclusions and enable us to make our own decisions.

Following a job interview where I was asked “what 3 words would family and friends use to describe you?” I decided to actually ask 3 family members to answer this question. After getting pretty positive answers I also asked them for 3 ‘negative’ words to describe me. Sometimes our ‘weaknesses’ can actually reveal our biggest strengths. The answers provided an interesting insight into how I come across to others, and most of them I’d agree with, at least to a certain extent, though some I think only apply in certain contexts.

Authenticity is accepting the good and the bad, strengths and weaknesses, but it’s not about immediately accepting the opinions of others as facts about ourselves and our characteristics. I guess the opinions of others are actually a pretty good insight into how authentic we’re being – how much the way we act reflects our values and who we truly feel we are.

wavesofdoubtauthenticself

I recently attended a meet-up group to discuss personality types. I’ve always found this sort of thing interesting but meeting and learning about the different types was just fascinating.

I’d always thought my type was INFP but, never having done an official Myers-Briggs test, I spoke to some knowledgeable members of the group about this, and was surprised at the suggestion that I could possibly be an ENFP as these types are very close. I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert, and after some more thought I’m almost certain I am, but it’s surprising how much influence your environment can have on who you think you are.

Maybe we’re not necessarily who we’ve grown up to believe we are. We might have to dig a little deeper to find our true authentic selves.

For a more full and detailed explanation of authenticity have a look at what Kevin Rafferty has to say: What is authenticity? and Connecting to your authentic self

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4 comments on “What is authenticity? Who am I?!

  1. Dara says:

    I’m so happy that you are “riding the authenticity wave” with me this month! Looks like you have really come to some valuable points of awareness about your own relationship to the opinions of others and how they impact the choices you make. Awareness is the first step and you are well on your way! I also think it was very bold of you to ask friends for 3 negative words to describe you. It’s not easy to hear! But your willingness to put yourself in that position says a lot about your progress. Good for you! Also, I’ve learned that most of us are both extroverts and introverts and can be more one than the other or equally both! I’ve found I am more or less equally both. Susan Cain has an amazing book out called Quiet, if you’re interested in exploring more about the introverted side of you. :) And thank you for reading my blog. Hugs, Dara

    • Funny, I was actually going to recommend the same book! I read it for a book club and it’s such a great read. There’s also an article on Huff Post that talks about the myths of introverts. I generally do not put much stock into their stories, but this one was worth the read. I’m an ENFP as well and I can relate spot on about testing “new theories” out on a small group before I show it to the masses. Great post!

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/introvert-myths_n_3569058.html

      • It is a really good book. And interesting article – the thing I’m trying to work out is whether I’m more shy or introverted. With the ‘testing theories’ I guess it’s about making sure to test them on the right people who won’t just shoot ideas down straight away, and to make sure not to take other people’s opinions as fact. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Feel like I’ve not got too much further than awareness yet, but it’s definitely the place to start! Almost any negative can be turned into something positive – I think weaknesses are just as important to understand and accept as strengths are, if not more important.

      I think you’re probably right about the extroversion/introversion thing – I’d just always considered myself to be very introverted but I’m now starting to question where I really do get my energy from. I’ve actually already read and reviewed Quiet – it is a great book!

      Really appreciate your comments, I’m enjoying following your blog :)

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