‘Authenticity’ (or ‘your naked truth’ as Lisa Nichols, trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest, calls it) might just be the #1 buzzword of the decade. And learning how to be authentic has gained massive traction because of it.
It’s not a new concept, though; far from it. Take pop culture movies, for example. It’s the narrative of almost every protagonist, like The Matrix’s Mr. Anderson coming into his realization as Neo.
And in this age of social media and its ‘how many followers do you have?’ paradigm, the desire to unplug from the matrix is being reignited. More and more people are seeking ways to do better in order to be better.
But before following the white rabbit, it’s always best to understand the fundamentals first:
- What’s the Meaning of Authenticity?
- Why Is Authenticity Important?
- 3 Things That Kill Your Authenticity
- How to Be Authentic
If you, like Neo, are choosing the red pill, may this be the stepping stone to discovering your ‘naked truth’ and living an authentic life.
What’s the Meaning of Authenticity?
The awareness of who you are and what you stand for is essentially the very nature of how to be authentic. When you embrace your ‘naked truth,’ you’re able to express yourself honestly and consistently.
On a deeper level, authenticity is about genuineness, transparency, and honesty. It calls for you to be true to your values, uniqueness, and spirit, regardless of pressures to conform to the culturescape.
Authenticity is binary. You are either authentic or not.— Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and trainer of the Live By Your Own Rules Quest
In her book, Becoming Flawsome (set to launch in 2023), Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani dives into how this phenomenon is not about your influence on others or on society. Rather, authenticity is an internal process and, simply (as well as more importantly), a relationship with yourself.
Here’s the thing: because many of us fear rejection, we often hide behind a ‘mask’ — be it a weapon, a crown, a costume, or what have you — and adjust ourselves to fit into what society has deemed as ‘normal.’ And in our pursuit of feeling worthy, we portray ourselves as who we think we should be instead of being transparent about who we truly are.
Authenticity and transparency — Is it the same thing?
In this saturated world, ‘authenticity’ and ‘transparency’ become diluted into buzzwords that get thrown around all the time. But just like the former, the latter word has a deeper meaning than being see-through like Tupac’s hologram.
Transparency is about how much you share.
So, how much of yourself do you share with others? Are you loud and sociable with one group of people but quiet and reserved with others? Do you speak to fit in? Or do you speak to stand out?
Let’s go back to the example of Neo from The Matrix. He shows different aspects of himself as Mr. Anderson fighting the Agents, as Neo leading the resistance, as a friend to Morpheus, and even as a partner to Trinity. These different personas enable him to share different sides of who he is with the people he surrounds himself with.
Being transparent is a big deal these days. A recent survey by The Org shows that 84% of millennials would be more loyal to a brand or company if they knew it was transparent, and the thing they valued most about transparency was knowing a company’s culture and values.
Similarly, the people you surround yourself with are more loyal when you’re transparent. And when you allow yourself to be vulnerable to show your fears, joy, crappy mistakes, issues, greatness, and even your brightness, you allow others to trust you enough to do the same.
However, expressing yourself externally isn’t entirely effective unless you’re true to yourself internally. And that’s where learning how to be authentic can take you on the path to create the life you love.
The masks we wear
Will Smith’s got The Fresh Prince. Eminem’s got Slim Shady. Beyoncé’s got Sasha Fierce. Stefani Germanotta’s got Lady Gaga (or is it the other way around?). Even Sasha Baron Cohen’s got Ali G, Borat, and General Admiral Aladeen.
There’s a list of celebrities with alter egos. And they’re not the only ones.
Whether at work, amongst our social groups, or in online games, most of us live a public persona very different from our private one. We don’t always have a name for our alter egos (although the Mighty McGee does have a nice ring to it), but they are an extension of who we are or who we wish to be.
A BBC article touched on how having a fictional persona may have psychological benefits. By ‘self-distancing’ from ourselves, so to speak, we can view stressful situations (like performing á la Slim Shady in front of a huge crowd) more objectively, allowing us to feel in control of emotions like anxiety so we can focus on the task at hand.
The problem happens when we identify ourselves with the mask so much that we stop being honest with ourselves.— Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and trainer of the Live By Your Own Rules Quest
But wouldn’t it be amazing, though, if you didn’t need an alter ego? Wouldn’t it be awesome to live your ‘naked truth’ and be authentically you?
It’s about aligning the person you are when no one’s looking with the persona you put on in public. And it starts when you acknowledge there’s nothing for you to prove, protect, defend, or hide.
And once you start consciously stripping yourself of these layers, you’ll find yourself being more transparent, more authentic, and more powerful.
Why Is Authenticity Important?
Embracing yourself wholly and without judgment is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of personal transformation. It gives you clarity on your priorities and gives you more confidence to step into your authentic self.
Like transparency, this notion of ‘be you’ has cropped up in many places in more recent times. What’s the deal with that? What makes authenticity so great?
In this day of scouring the internet for the truth, ownership and authenticity are powerful tools. Recent data shows that 90% of consumers said authenticity is a major factor when it comes to brands they like and support.
It doesn’t just mean the opposite of fake. It is far from just speaking or talking about it. Being authentic requires you to:
- Be true to yourself
- Forgive yourself
- Honor yourself
- Love yourself
- Show up for yourself
“All of a sudden, you’re not saying life. You’re not speaking life. You’re doing it,” says Lisa Nichols, who’s also the CEO of Motivating the Masses. And now that you’ve switched on your authenticity, you’re being it — “you live it, you be it, you do it, you walk it, you talk it, you eat it, you breathe it, you drink it.”
When you learn how to be your authentic self, there’s no more performance to make. You are happier with more positive emotions and higher self-esteem. Your alter ego, thankfully, will not have to ever make another appearance (exit stage left, Mighty McGee).
Lisa adds, “your voice should always speak your truth and when you speak your truth, you give everyone listening access to discover their truth.”
3 Things That Kill Your Authenticity
While it’s always important to know how to change for the better, it’s equally important to understand which habits don’t support your transformation. And here are three main ones to know:
1. You don’t believe you are worthy of love
The subject of self-love has been at the tip of everyone’s tongue and with good reason.
The barrage of societal challenges, such as the pandemic and civil unrest, has many of us on edge. In addition to that, our social media obsession, more than anything, encourages us to “follow the trends,” so we don different masks for ‘likes’ and followers.
For women, specifically, this has led to a self-love crisis, as The Body Shop’s 2021 Global Self Love Index has found. The report identified that one in two women worldwide feels more self-doubt than self-love.
“I believe, fundamentally at the core, that our greatest human fear in the world is that we will not be loved,” says Philip Mckernan, inspirational speaker and author of The Authenticity Code, on an episode of The Mindvalley Podcast. “And it runs so deep within us, so deep, so far down within us, most of us are unaware of it.”
Listen in for more nuggets of Philip’s wisdom on authenticity and cranking the notch on self-love:
2. You’re afraid of being seen as imperfect
Different social situations call for different masks. And with our human need to be accepted, we naturally oblige and conform.
Here’s an example: Think of how you are when you’re with your children versus how you are when you’re at your workplace. There’s a jarring contrast in the way you act in those two situations.
The thing is, “we’re never taught how to take the mask off because we don’t even know they’re there, to begin with,” according to Philip. And admittedly, showing our ‘imperfections’ is scary and makes us feel vulnerable.
So, the masks allow us to feel like we’re our perfect selves in those circumstances. But the more we learn how to be authentic, the more we realize that our masks aren’t doing us justice.
3. You seek external validation
“Who are you seeking approval from today?” — that is the question Philip suggests asking ourselves. With our need to be loved, we often seek validation from someone — be it our family, friends, coworkers, or even strangers on social media.
This isn’t at all great for our well-being.
Case in point, a 2016 study evaluated relationships between extraversion, time on Facebook, need for approval, and trait anxiety among college students. The results showed that the “need for approval was positively associated with anxiety.”
External validation gives others power over how we feel about ourselves. It compromises our authenticity at work, at home, in our relationships, etc. And we may just end up digging ourselves into a hole of insecurities and stress.
How to Be Authentic
The journey to your ‘naked truth’ is your personal responsibility. Whether you’re looking at how to be authentic at work, how to be an authentic leader, how to be authentic with your family, or what have you, you owe it to yourselves to explore how to be authentic and live life with gumption and grit.
Now, you can’t flip a switch and automatically be this powerful, authentic being. It takes putting in the work.
There are many ways to get you going (Mindvalley has plenty of personal growth programs to choose from), but here’s one Lisa in the Speak and Inspire Quest recommends doing that can be a game-changer for you — a simple exercise to get you working on your authenticity muscle.
Stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend. Because “in order to find your voice, you have to use your voice.” So, here you go:
- [State your name], I am proud that you… [state seven points of pride].
For example: Lisa, I am proud that you got the lead role in The Wizard of Oz in the second grade.
- [State your name], I forgive you for… [state seven points of forgiveness].
For example: Lisa, I forgive you for being so lonely that you lowered your bar of who deserves you.
- [State your name], I commit to you that… [state seven points of commitments].
For example: Lisa, I commit to you that I will stand in my greatness so when the negative chatter kicks in today, I’ll press pause.
Deep breaths (if you need them) because you’re discovering some powerful and profound insights. And if you want to do a deeper level of self-work, write four things in your journal that you’ve realized about yourself during the mirror exercise — things that you needed to hear yourself say.
Lisa suggests doing this day after day and soon enough, you’ll find you. And there’s nothing more powerful than that.
Tap Into Your Naked Truth
We live in a world where conformism is the paradigm, and we only feel seen, heard, and loved with someone’s validation, not our own. It can only go so far before it starts chipping away at our mental health.
The true thing is that to be accepted by the world, we have to first accept ourselves.— Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and trainer of Live By Your Own Rules Quest
So when it comes down to it, learning how to be authentic matters. And at Mindvalley, you’ll be able to do just that.
You’ll find ways to show up for yourself before showing up for the rest of the world. And you’ll be able to turn your crawl into a walk, turn your walk into a run, and turn your run into a soar.
Just like Kristina, Lisa, and Philip did. And just like so many others in the Mindvalley Tribe.
So, here’s the loving truth: you don’t need to have an alter ego to whip out or a mask to wear when you’re out in the world. When you get intimately connected with yourself and come to terms with your naked truth, your transparent, authentic, powerful self is enough.