THE 5 MOST COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AUTHENTICITY

I find that one of the biggest barriers in coaching individuals and organizations to develop Authenticity - is needing to overcome some misconceptions related to what Authenticity is - and isn’t.

The ideal of Authenticity has become so extremely popular over the past couple of decades - that the very term has been applied, used, overused, and misapplied with such incredible frequency - that it has somehow transformed into an inauthentic version of itself.

As a result of this concept being so grossly overused - the term is relatively meaningless now - and I fear that many people might be indifferent - or even turned off - to the need - or benefits - of discovering, developing, and establishing Authenticity within themselves - and in their relationships and work.

To make matters worse - the term Authenticity has picked up some particularly negative associations or connotations - due to the word being misapplied - and/or used to describe behavior that can be counterproductive, harmful, and even destructive (to ones self - and toward others).

Here are the 5 most common misconceptions that I hear/read/see regarding Authenticity (which then create a barrier to actually developing Authenticity):

  1. Authenticity is Selfish - whenever I write or speak about the value of establishing Authenticity - it is not uncommon for me to experience some type of resistance or pushback - as some people strongly associate Authenticity with an inherently selfish outlook or focus on life.
  2. Authenticity as a weapon - I have witnessed some individuals weaponizing the concept of Authenticity - as they aggressively force their “truth” on others - and make bold, offensive, and sometimes threatening statements to anyone who doesn’t accept or affirm their truth (I have also seen respected colleagues of mine suggest that Authenticity is being unapologetic about who you are - and I think this can be easily misunderstood and applied in harmful ways).
  3. Authenticity is about simply accepting your character flaws - I occasionally hear people demonstrating a fixed mindset around certain aspects of their behavior or personality - and then claiming that these characteristics are simply part of their Authentic self (this is a fixed mindset version of Authenticity that is counterproductive!).
  4. Authenticity is about being free to do whatever feels good in the moment - I think this version of Authenticity explains where the self-interested association comes from. This misconception stems from Authenticity being correlated with following ones passion (another term that I believe is often misapplied and misunderstood) - or by prioritizing (an unhealthy pursuit of) ones happiness above all else.
  5. Authenticity is reduced to anytime someone is being honest, keeping it real, or when they choose to be vulnerable or transparent- While honesty, genuineness, vulnerability, and transparency may all be important aspects of Authenticity - in and of themselves - they are not necessarily sufficient in demonstrating Authenticity (it’s possible to be honest and vulnerable - but still be inauthentic).

Now that I have identified 5 common misconceptions regarding Authenticity that help to clarify what Authenticity is not about - I would like to take a minute to address the counterpoint to each of these misconceptions- so I can clarify what Authentic Authenticity is about:

Counterpoint #1 - True Authenticity accepts that we have a responsibility to do social good - While I believe that Authenticity is established from the inside out (meaning that you need to start the process by looking within - and achieving inner clarity and harmony - and then you focus on bringing this clarity info your life, relationships, work, etc.). The results that we experience in our relationships and work are largely a reflection of what’s going on inside of us - so - if we feel internally chaotic - or dissatisfied - then this will also manifest in how we deal with others. But - when you start from a place of inner clarity and inner harmony - it empowers you to bring this into your relationships and life in a very positive and purposeful way - and you become more selfless and virtuous in the process!

Counterpoint #2 Authenticity is not something you need to force on others - In the digital course that I have created (Authentic Growth Blueprint) - several individuals started the course believing that once they discovered their “truth” - that they would then be ready to defend it, protect it, and impress it upon others. However, upon completing the course - they discovered that finding their truth - and aligning their identity and purpose with it - gave them inner peace - and they didn’t feel the need to shove their Authenticity on others (in fact, they felt more open to listening to others, they were more collaborative, and they weren’t threatened by people having different opinions, ideas, or beliefs - which enhanced their relationships - as people felt more safe and secure around them.

The idea that being blunt and offensively honest is Authentic - is nonsense (it’s just being offensive or inconsiderate). In fact, any time someone is impulsively reacting to someone or something that has happened to them - that isn’t aligned with their values, character, and who they freely choose to be - that isn’t a sign of Authenticity (and the need to force your truth on others - is typically reactionary - and doesn’t reflect having inner clarity and harmony).

Counterpoint #3 - Authenticity is a lifelong pursuit of accessing and integrating the truest aspects of your self - I hear people suggest that they might be an Authentically angry, lazy, insecure, etc., person (and I do hear this more than you might think) - but - I think it’s important for them to realize that while they might honestly feel angry, unmotivated, or insecure - that these characteristics do not define them - and certainly are not the truest expressions of who they are (in fact, I believe that they are symptoms of inauthenticity - or - being out of alignment with their true self - and if they would course correct in alignment with their values, purpose, virtues, and character strengths - the anger, laziness, insecurity, etc., would be replaced with their true characteristics).

Furthermore, I believe that we are designed to perpetually grow (we are happiest and most fulfilled when we are growing in ways that are meaningful and purposeful to us) - so - the idea that you have a character flaw that you simply accept as being a true part of your identity - seems incongruent with the nature of Authenticity (just to be clear - I am an advocate of self acceptance, self love, and self compassion - so - I think it’s great to acknowledge and own your imperfections - while simultaneously choosing to strive to become better).

Counterpoint #4 - Authentic happiness is not about pursuing whatever is pleasurable in the moment - and avoiding whatever might be uncomfortable or challenging (and unfortunately - this is the predominant model of happiness that many people pursue - and often with terrible consequences). Authentic happiness is so much deeper and more fulfilling than this - especially when it is anchored to your values, purpose, and virtues/character strengths.

I frequently hear influencers tell their audience that they should do whatever makes them happy - and every time I hear/see this - it makes me cringe for a moment - as I have seen a lot of lives, marriages, and families destroyed by people following this advice. Besides - if you don’t really have inner clarity - it’s very likely that you don’t have a great grasp on what will bring you genuine and lasting happiness (while doing fun and pleasurable activities is a valuable aspect of happiness - we tend to our greatest happiness from investing in meaningful relationships - when we feel stretched working towards a really rewarding and purposeful goal - and when we are focusing on serving others).

Counterpoint #5 -

“Authenticity doesn't just mean you're not filtering what you're saying, it's about being able to know and access the best parts of yourself and bring them forward.”

Dr. Amy Cuddy - Social Psychologist

Figured I would lean on a quote here for the final counterpoint!

I don’t know when this happened - but somewhere in the past decade or so - Authenticity got reduced to any time someone was being honest, vulnerable, and/or transparent (this is the most frequent use of the word that I hear/see today). And again - honesty, vulnerability, and transparency are really important aspects of being Authentic!

However, you might have experienced people using vulnerability as a means of manipulation (this happens in social media all the time - where people post curated vulnerability - with the ulterior motive of getting a customer). We have already covered the being inconsiderately honest aspect - and there are times when being transparent or open - can actually be selfish and harmful.

This is why Authenticity requires real self-awareness - where someone can be honest with themself about their motive for doing something (in my digital course - we have an entire module on the concept of intrinsic motivation - and when you develop this motivation style - it will empower you to recognize when you are doing something out of an Authentic place - or - when you might have an ulterior motive.

And it’s truly incredible when you consistently engage with others from an Authentic place - when there is no ulterior motive (doing this will build such a deep level of trust - and it will organically inspire others to become more Authentic themselves - as they feel safe and secure to discover who that is in your presence).

Okay - now that I have identified and addressed the 5 most common misconceptions regarding Authenticity - and revealed what I know to be absolutely true about Authenticity - my hope is that this will empower and inspire at least a few people to develop their Authenticity muscles!!

I am 100% convinced that Authenticity is the key to unlocking your best life, relationships, work, etc., - and that Authenticity at scale could legitimately elevate a family, organization, community, and even the world - into the best possible representation of itself!

Would love to hear what you think - and address any questions or feedback you might have - so, please feel free to contact me (at DrAndy@ag-thrive.com - or on any of my social media channels).

Speak Your Mind

*



120 Newport Center Dr., Suite 10
Newport Beach, CA 92660, CA 92660

DrAndy@ag-thrive.com
(949) 278-5482

Got Questions?
Send a Message!