We all experience moments when we act or speak in an inauthentic way. We want others to like us or to think we’re smart, so we present a false persona. Or we do it because we feel unsafe or we want something really badly. It can be truly painful when this happens. Worse still is when we’re inauthentic with ourselves because we’re unable to admit something difficult. If you aspire to experience more authenticity in your life, start by committing to living authentically with yourself.

1) Balancing Your Outer Desires with Your Inner Aspirations
Oftentimes when we’re not feeling authentic, we have what’s referred to in Buddhism as the hungry ghost — the ego wants too much. In order to develop spiritually, it isn’t necessary for you to give up all those things you desire in daily life, but rather you must learn to balance them in a manner that reflects your true values. For most of us this means repeatedly letting go of things that the mind is telling us we want. The way to be free of this craving is to stop organizing around it, to shift the balance between your outer life and your spiritual life. Making such a shift may not feel good initially, but in time you experience a feeling of spaciousness and freedom that is far more precious than what you may have sacrificed.

2) Recognizing Your Experiences As They Happen
It’s also important to be able to recognize your experiences as you’re having them. This is another way mindfulness can be helpful. If you can’t recognize your feelings, how can you be authentic? Admitting that you don’t know how you feel is also authentic. We’re often overwhelmed by emotions, images, and inner dialogue that were conditioned by family and cultural influences, so have compassion for your confusion!

3) Knowing What’s True for You
Mindfulness is also important in knowing what’s true for you. Throughout each day, ask yourself if you’re being true to your deepest intentions. If you’re not, start doing so immediately, as best as you’re able. The outcome of your inquiry and effort may seem modest at first. But be assured, each time you start over by reconnecting to your intention, you are taking one more step toward finding your own authenticity and freedom.

For Your Reflection

  1. Make a list of what causes you to act or feel inauthentic.
  2. Ask yourself, “Am I aligned with my own sense of wholeness, purpose, meaning, and values? Am I meeting the world in a way that feels authentic?”
  3. Can you be authentically available in each moment of your life? Can you also be authentically available to another person?

For further study, listen to Phillip’s talks on authenticity:
Authenticity I
Authenticity II
Authenticity III
Authenticity IV