10 qualities that make a person truly authentic, according to psychology

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What does it mean to be authentic? What should one look like, sound like, or feel like to be considered genuine?

What values should one hold? What beliefs should one stay away from? Why is authenticity something that so many of us chase but rarely reach?   

Apologies for throwing you one question after another, but they’re thought-provoking, aren’t they? 

Authenticity, like confidence or happiness, is a lifelong endeavor. And they’re deceptively simple. It makes sense that it’s going to take a lot of soul-searching and reflection to achieve it.

But is authenticity even possible? What does psychology have to say?

In this article, we’ll discuss 10 qualities that make a person truly authentic, according to psychology.

Will the list check out for you?

1) They’re self-aware

Very Well Mind defines self-awareness succinctly, “Self-awareness is your ability to perceive and understand the things that make you who you are as an individual, including your personality, actions, values, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts. Essentially, it is a psychological state in which the self becomes the focus of attention.”

An authentic person is a self-aware person

Not only do they know their capabilities, they also know their limitations. They know what they can do, but they’re self-aware enough to know when to ask for help with what they can’t. 

They are realistic individuals who do not dismiss their imperfections.

And a person who values authenticity will treat their values and beliefs as a life compass. They form them and will stay true to them. They will rarely stray from their principles, if at all. 

2) They don’t shy away from vulnerability

While we’re on the topic of authentic people not dismissing their imperfections, let’s talk about vulnerability, as that is often considered a weakness by a lot of people. 

On Psychology Today, Joan Rosenberg Ph.D. says:

“Expressing yourself, whether they are sentiments of disappointment, sadness, or anger, or sentiments of caring and love, are all ways to be consciously and deliberately vulnerable. Also, allowing yourself to share important elements of your personal history requires conscious vulnerability, and doing so will help you develop deeper emotional connections and greater intimacy with others.”

Authentic people understand the value of being vulnerable, of staying true to their feelings and emotions. They do not run away from difficult emotions, they give themselves the chance to grow within this difficulty. 

To be authentic is to understand that our emotions don’t always arrive on a good day, but that it’s all part of the human experience.

3) They’re not affected by peer pressure

Peer pressure does not work on a person who values authenticity. After all, they have chosen to stay true to who they are and what they want. 

So, conformity? It doesn’t really suit them.

They form their own opinions and decide within the mechanics of their values and beliefs. Pressuring them to see your point will more likely yield a negative reaction.

Manipulation won’t work, you will only waste your breath if you try. 

4) They don’t seek approval from others

In the same way that an authentic person is not affected by peer pressure, approval from others doesn’t motivate them either. 

They will not go out of their way just to please someone and they are not afraid to go against the grain, so to speak. They have the conviction to make tough yet necessary decisions. 

The only approval that matters to authentic people is from themselves.

Their self-worth is not dependent on what other people think about them. Their self-esteem is not fragile enough to be broken by another person’s rejection. 

They are secure in who they are. 

5) They don’t play mind games with anyone

Authentic people don’t have time to waste on playing mind games. They highly value clarity and being direct. 

Mincing words is not their forte and they will say what’s on their mind. If they like you, they will let you know. If they don’t, you will also know.    

They would rather spend their energy on more productive endeavors. 

6) They’re comfortable in their own skin

Perhaps this is already a given but an authentic person is comfortable in their own skin.

This doesn’t mean they do not seek self-improvement, it just means they accept what they cannot change about themselves.

This also does not mean they don’t have insecurities, it just means that they do not let these insecurities rule their lives. 

7) They seek self-improvement

Authentic people understand that accepting limitations is not a weakness, it is an opportunity. It’s why they constantly seek self-improvement. 

And it might sound counterproductive, but self-acceptance and self-improvement can exist in the same context. Like I said in the previous number, there are parts of us that we can no longer change and yet there are still a lot that can. 

It’s a matter of finding that balance between growth and acceptance. Something that people who value authenticity work really hard to achieve. 

8) They’re consistent and accountable

It makes sense that authentic people are consistent. After all, they do not pretend to be someone they’re not. 

They will show you who they truly are at any given time, with no hidden motives or agendas. They will always stick to what they believe in and what they value. They will keep their word, too. 

What they preach is how they act, there are no masks worn here. Authentic people show you who they are and will consistently do so. 

And an authentic person won’t make excuses for themselves, they are accountable for their actions. They will stand by what they show you. 

They do not run away from the consequences of their decisions, they understand the gravity of their responsibilities.  

9) They have firm boundaries

We set boundaries to protect ourselves, we set boundaries to put ourselves first. They aren’t selfish or mean, they are necessary. And as Brené Brown said, “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”

And people who value authenticity understand this. They understand the power that “No” holds. They understand their autonomy.

They understand that who we say yes to determines who we give power over us. And authentic people are very selective, which brings me to my last point.

10) They seek and have healthy relationships

And lastly, authentic people will seek healthy relationships.

Superficial relationships will be far and few in between, if at all. Inauthentic connections won’t be of interest to them.

People who value trust will have no space for relationships that are based on lies and pretense. 

People who value respect and exercise their boundaries won’t thrive in a relationship that harms these boundaries. 

For authentic people, a connection is a bridge, and the two ends cannot be built on shaky foundations.

One last thing

Being authentic does not happen overnight. Intentionality is integral in reaching your most authentic self.

It won’t be easy, and the way is paved with frustrations and constant learning and unlearning. However, what’s that that we know about things that are worth it?

Oh, yeah, things that are worth it rarely come easy.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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