In my November blog, I talked about identifying feelings in order to manage your behavior for results that produce maximum benefit. One of the most important benefits is you will become more authentic, and therefore more trustworthy. (See my August blog on Are You Trustworthy?)

“Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked.” –Peter Guber

Another benefit is you will reduce your stress levels. Once you are able to regularly identify your feelings and decide how to express them–or not, you will start to feel more in control of your life. Your actions will be congruent with your conscious choices about what to do with your feelings. This will relieve much of your internal struggle as well as fostering more positive and productive communication with others.

Authenticity is a peaceful place to be. You feel true to yourself and experience a kind of mental and emotional freedom. We all know people who manipulate to get what they want. They are often successful, and we may even envy their success. However, I doubt that they forge satisfying connections with others, move through their days more smoothly, or sleep well at night on any regular basis.

The path to authenticity is challenging. “To be nobody but yourself, in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else, means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting.” –e.e. Cummings¬†

It does get easier as you develop the practice–and the payoff is well worth the effort.

I’ve worked with people who have not only gotten by, but have achieved many of their goals–albeit usually more superficial or materialistic ones. However, they were not happy and content, which is why they sought my help. They couldn’t understand why their work life was not satisfying, why their personal relationships were not rewarding or functioning as smoothly as they wanted. For those who were genuinely interested in getting to the root causes of their dissatisfaction, not merely looking for a “quick fix,” they discovered their lives became more rewarding and their values shifted, sometimes dramatically. These results came only when they were willing to face the feelings they had been hiding from themselves, often for a very long time. They reported feeling freer,more relaxed, and even joyful–perhaps for the first time in their lives. One comment I heard, in various forms was: “I now know who I truly am and I like what I see.”

Here are some questions to guide you on your path to authenticity. I suggest
you write your answers down and keep your list. Then review it in six months.

1. What are the qualities I have that I like?
2. What do these qualities say about the kind of person I am?
3. What are the qualities I have that I don’t like?
4. What do these qualities say about the kind of person I am?
5. What are the “shoulds” in my life?
6. Where did I learn about these “shoulds?” (Who or what voices are in my head
telling me what to do or why they need to be done? (It is not your authentic
7. What do I negatively judge myself for?
8. What is the effect of the “shoulds” and judgments? How do they make me
9. What kinds of demands or expectations do I have for myself? How realistic
are they?
10. Do I have the same demands or expectations of others? How realistic are
11. What are the sources of stress in my life? How much of my stress can be
attributed to the “shoulds,” expectations, demands, and self-judgments?
12. How supportive and forgiving am I of others in comparison to myself?
13. How much compassion do I have for myself?
14. To what extent am I able to genuinely forgive myself for actions I regret?