Do you know what it means to be authentic? Whenever we hear the word authentic, we automatically associate it with a physical object being genuine and of high value, such as an authentic Romare Bearden painting or a natural diamond. The opposite of authentic is inauthentic – not real, fake, phony, insincere.

When we think about the concept of the authentic self, most women focus mainly on being truthful and honest. These are valuable attributes, but really living an authentic life involves a lot more than just telling the truth. So, the bad news is that being honest is not enough.

What It Means to Be Authentic

Being an authentic woman is all about knowing who you are in order to let the world see you as you are. You don’t waste time hiding behind a mask, or get defensive and try to lie your way out of a situation for fear of the consequences. You say what you mean and mean what you say. If you make a promise, you keep it. If you say no, it is out of respect for yourself rather than rudeness or disrespect for the other person.

What it Means to Be Authentic, It's Not Just Being Honest

An authentic woman acknowledges all of her feelings, the positive and the ‘negative’ without trying to suppress or ignore them. When you like yourself you can admit that there are things about yourself that you don’t love. When you’re not confident, you only want to acknowledge the ‘popular’ feelings. It’s ok, nobody said you need to be perfect.

You don’t let your emotions run your life, because you’ve mastered them by understanding them. You choose to see your emotions rather than trying to run away from them or numb them through drink, excessive shopping, binge eating or other damaging activities.

Because you are so in tune with your feelings, others see you as a woman of integrity that is stable, whole, confident, and reliable. (Kind of like a Honda Accord!) It’s important for you to be honest with yourself and be able to believe in what you say.

You have a healthy sense of self-esteem without being arrogant or boastful. You are confident in your self worth and command respect, but also make it a point to treat others with respect.

Why We Are Inauthentic

We often behave inauthentically because we are worried about what others will think or say. We fear rejection by peers, friends, even romantic partners, and therefore hide our true selves. In many cases, this is a learned behavior that we don’t realize is continuing from childhood.

Inauthentic behavior can also be a survival strategy at school or work to try to have a more peaceful life. You might have a hypercritical teacher at school or boss at work who is never satisfied no matter how hard you try. You might also be bullied at school or in the workplace and internalize it to the point where you think it is your fault or that you deserve it in some way.

An authentic woman, by contrast, has a clear set of principles, values and boundaries that are flexible but not easily damaged. You know who you are, what you want, and what you don’t want. You are assertive enough to stand up for yourself without stepping on others’ toes. You don’t try to make yourself feel better by bullying or criticizing anyone else or talking behind their back. If you have something to say to anyone, you are willing to say it to their face.

A woman who behaves this way has much less stress because she is being herself and doesn’t have to worry about who she is with.

An authentic woman is happy and fulfilled because she is always setting and achieving goals in order to be her best self and live her best possible life. She doesn’t waste her valuable time or energy wishing things were different. Instead, she takes practical action steps to transform her life for the better. She accept all aspects of herself but still look for emotional and spiritual growth.

Being truthful is just one aspect of living an authentic life. Be true to your feelings and inner self and see what a joy it can be to live authentically.

You can practice being truthful and authentic with these 3 free exercises. It will only take a short time for you to see the benefits of being who you really are.

Allegra Sinclair is a professional coach and confidence expert. She hates to see women living small and loves to help them change how they show up in the world.

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