Call me a cynic, but in my opinion, there is no shortage of phonies in this world.
This is particularly true in this social media-obsessed, digital era where everyone is fighting for likes and attention (aka empty validation.)
By my estimations, the truly authentic individual is therefore pretty damn rare.
So if you want to be part of this exclusive breed of people, then it’s time to start cultivating your inherent realness.
In this article, I’ll take you through some psychologically proven signs of the authentic person.
Once you get a clearer idea, you can start moving accordingly.
Let’s dive in!
1) You’re self-aware
Do you ever watch music competition shows like The X Factor or American Idol?
The audition phase has always stood out to me–particularly when certain hopeful, wide-eyed contestants with clearly inferior abilities to the rest are routinely rejected by judges.
Often, instead of accepting it, they have full-blown, toddler-like meltdowns.
They sincerely believe that they are destined for and entitled to stardom and celebrity despite not having the prerequisites for it.
These are examples of people with low levels of self-awareness.
Authentic people, on the other hand, have an incredibly clear understanding of their strengths, limitations, motivations, and emotions.
They’re not living in denial like American Idol rejects; they’re able to manage expectations gracefully.
They engage in self-reflection–a practice that allows them to be cognizant of their behaviors and the reasoning behind them.
Hence, their decisions typically are made with tactfulness and logic.
Father of analytical psychology Carl Jung has spoken on self-awareness extensively.
He notes “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
2) You act consistently
From devious politicians to insincere spouses, a surprisingly high percentage of people are all talk.
Sure, they may tell you to want to hear but, ultimately, they don’t back it up. They’ll say one thing but that fervor runs out before any action is taken.
This means empty promises and broken trust.
The authentic person stays consistently honest. They aren’t chameleons, constantly switching colors to benefit themselves.
They tend to stick to a core set of values, regardless of what people think.
These values act as guides for their actions, and how consistently they treat and behave around others.
In psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini’s well-regarded book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he states: “Once people make a decision, take a stand or perform an action, they will face an interpersonal pressure to behave in a consistent manner with what they have said or done previously.”
Hence, consistency, for me, is one of the loudest indicators of genuine authenticity.
3) You have an open mind
Have you ever heard of the saying “The empty makes the loudest noise?”
Well, from my experience, this is mostly true.
People who claim to know everything about the world, who think they have it all figured out, are usually the ones talking the most.
Often, they’re inflexible in their ways of thinking, even when proven wrong.
These are the rigid fundamentalists, the hardcore conservatives, the militant moral crusaders–folks with little to no intellectual humility.
They are people who are so blinded by ideology, they become closed-minded.
Authentic people don’t claim to know the answers.
They challenge themselves and embrace the prospect of a constantly changing world, always open to growing and evolving with the times–a process that they gladly accept will never really end.
Instead of resistance and refusal, they’re receptive.
According to a founder of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
4) You don’t seek external validation
As established, authentic people are at peace with who they truly are, regardless if that comes with external validation or not.
They don’t live to win the approval and admiration of others, especially if that means compromising their true self.
Their fundamental pillars as human beings remain firm.
In this digitally-saturated period of history, the latter is an increasingly rare trait.
Authentic self-worth and fulfillment come from deep within, not from how many followers one has on Instagram.
So stay proud of your innate individuality; ignore everything else.
Rogers profoundly says of self-acceptance: “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”
Think about that.
5) You have genuine empathy
Authentic people care about others–a mentality that isn’t just for show.
Going back to that example of social media, I know people who post photos or videos of themselves performing charitable actions like donating to the needy but are–for lack of a better word–less-than-charitable in real life.
Then there are the folks who pray for forgiveness every Sunday, but after church become veritable Karens and berate the hard-working service staff at their local Arby’s.
Authentic people have the ability to truly feel for others. They can put themselves in other people’s shoes and develop compassion for their respective plights.
This also makes them genuine listeners, since they actually care about understanding.
Brené Brown, a prominent research professor at the University of Houston says of empathy:
“We can only be truly compassionate when we are brave enough to really descend into the depths of another person’s experience. This is the heart of true empathy.”
6) You’re not quick to judge
Whether we admit it or not, we live in a relatively judgemental society.
Both sides of the political spectrum are canceling people left and right (pun intended) over petty differences.
They sit on their high horse preaching morals and values but won’t hesitate to cast off others like contestants on a game show.
By today’s standards, there’s minimal room for understanding, to gain the opportunity to grow.
Extreme cases aside, many don’t take into account that imperfections and differences are an integral part of the human experience–one that adds color and diversity to everyday life.
Authentic people try to understand all sides of the coin, they accept that everyone is on a different journey through life–even when things don’t necessarily align flawlessly with their values.
As long as it’s not actively hurting anyone, they’re very much proponents of the ‘live and let live’ philosophy.
In short, authenticity comes down to how honest you are with yourself and others.
It means marching to the beat of your own drum because that beat is inherently meaningful to you, whether society agrees or not.
So if you struggle with being yourself, I urge you to keep cultivating your uniqueness and don’t let up–this is what makes you special, not conforming to the latest trends like everyone else.
Start loving and celebrating you for you. This is all that matters.
Let’s not forget what the provocative playwright Oscar Wilde once famously said: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
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