How To Find and Be Your Authentic Self

Wondering how to discover and be your authentic self? What does it mean to be authentic and true to yourself?

Be Your Authentic Self

Wondering how to be your authentic self? For most of us, it seems like either a tall order or a confusing question. Aren’t we already who we are? Are there certain situations where you shouldn’t be your authentic self? And what does it really mean? How can we truly BE our real, genuine, authentic selves each and every day?

Let’s start with a straightforward question: What is authenticity? How can you be your authentic self?

How to Be Authentic

So how do we define authenticity? Is it the dictionary definition of genuineness; undisputed credibility; one who is worthy of belief; real, honest, sincere?

Or do we define authenticity as existential philosophers did? Is authenticity when we develop a true sense of self rather than conforming to social norms and accepted practices? Does it mean being true to our values, spirit, personality, and character even in the face of external pressures? This existential view suggests that authenticity is something we should seek inwardly. It’s more important to be faithful to ourselves internally than confirming to external ideas or norms.

Being authentic doesn’t mean being a unique individual for the sake of being unique. Instead, true authenticity involves rising above societal norms, trends, and pressures.

Authenticity isn’t taking the easy route or going with the flow—it’s holding fast to our true selves. True authenticity requires us to be honest and forthright about who we really are, both to ourselves and others.

As we journey through the process of self-exploration, growth, and discovery, we can often discover that it’s hard to define our authentic selves. Finding our authentic self is an evolutionary process; it’s not static. It’s not something we do once and move on. We aren’t static beings! We can’t pin down authenticity or put it in a box.

To really explore our authenticity and find our authentic selves, we must address the question, “Am I true to who I am every single day?”

If we aren’t sure about the answer, it’s time to explore the heart of what drives us. What motivates us and spurs us to action? What do we yearn for? It’s important to understand that yearning goes deeper than simply desiring or wanting something. Yearning for something is a longing of the heart—something we need to feel whole. For example, we might yearn for respect or love. We may yearn to be seen for who we really are, to be understood, to be secure. These yearnings drive us forward and move us toward almost everything we do.

We must also define our values and the essence of what’s truly important to us. We may identify one specific value or several things that we hold dear. These may change and shift over time as our relationships, careers, circumstances, and focus change.

Through all of our different experiences, authenticity is our personal truth.

Discovering the Power of Authenticity

So why do we care about authenticity? Why is it important? In short, because authenticity gives us power and guidance. When we’re true to ourselves, we have a guiding star that helps us through all experiences.

Finding our authentic self may mean different things to different people. We’re all unique, with different influences, experiences, and needs. Authenticity may mean something different to each of us based on endless aspects of our lives—whether we’re married or single, young or old, Muslim or Atheist, American or Jamaican, and the list goes on. Our environment, influences, and social structures are part of us and shape us.

Our upbringing and the way we were raised also play a significant role in our values, traditions, and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. We can’t examine and interpret our authentic selves without examining our inner makeup and experiences that have shaped us.

The beauty of authenticity is that by its very definition, it allows us to interpret and become our own authentic selves. We define who we are, and we have the control and ability to harness, define, and structure precisely who we want to be. As author and behavioral scientist Steve Maraboli says, “There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”

Finding the Authenticity Within

So how do we find that sense of authenticity that’s within us?

The answer is right inside of us, and there’s nothing more exciting than making this discovery! But that’s not to say that it’s a challenge. Finding fulfillment and satisfaction—a sense of purpose—is a lifelong undertaking that requires work. It can be uncomfortable at times and even difficult, but the payoff and reward are worth the effort.

Why is it so hard to find our authentic selves? Because our societal structures don’t support and encourage us to make these discoveries. Most approaches to personal growth and fulfillment focus on the intellectual and educational aspects of “discovery.” These structures are based on the assumption that self-discovery and authenticity are a one-time, lofty goal and something that we have to find. This misconception holds us back because we’re daunted by the journey, level of education, and work. But fulfillment and satisfaction come along with us on the journey—the discovery is along the way. It’s not a matter of acquiring remote skills or hitting an achievement. These discoveries come as a function of developing our natural capacities.

The answers to how to be authentic are right inside each of us. As we explore ourselves and get to know ourselves better, we’ll start to see glimpses and signs of who we really are. We’ll make discoveries that ring true to us and help us gain that sense of personal connection, insight, and satisfaction.

The idea that self-discovery is a journey is part of our core approach at the Wright Foundation. The theme of authenticity permeates our coaching and classes. We offer empowering, challenging, and uplifting educational environments that encourage engagement and growth. We know that there’s nothing more empowering and exciting than discovering who we truly are, defining our personal authenticity, and learning how to embrace it, apply it, and LIVE it.

Our curriculum helps people from all backgrounds and experiences live a life story that’s worth sharing. We want to help everyone live a life that’s true to their selves—a life of authenticity.

People often become burned out and discouraged in education, professional development, and similar intellectual pursuits. Most educational systems operate on the assumption that we should acquire and master external skills. So we check them off the list and move on.

True education is the opposite of that. True education is holistic. It takes in the entire mind, body, and spirit. It’s also differentiated—taking into account the different ways people learn and the differences in approaches to new experiences a discovery. Standard education models are about training, memorization, getting good grades, and working toward external markers of success. But this kind of learning doesn’t really ensure that people “get it.” So how do we know we’re really learning anything, especially profound inner discoveries about our true selves?

Authenticity in education and growth looks at the question of, “How will this benefit us?” Authentic learning looks at the individual and their entire journey. Growing, learning, and living in accordance with one’s authentic self, bring feelings of enjoyment, intense meaning, and a strong sense of direction in life. An authentic person is constantly evolving and moving forward. They are working with their environment’s changing nature and impermanence, social circumstances, intellect, and more. Rather than operating under the idea that we’re static beings that are defined and put away, authentic education helps us become.

Becoming is the healthy psychological growth of human existence. When we’re becoming, we’re striving, reaching, and learning.

In life, we each have a choice. We can decide we want to discover and move toward our authentic, best lives and that we’re willing to evolve and grow. Or we can become victims of our own circumstances. We can give up control to our environment, allowing things to happen to us, or we can take action and make things happen for us. We can choose and define our values and our authentic selves, living in accordance with who we want to be, or we can follow values that others choose for us.

So which one do you choose? Do you choose to be your authentic self? To live an authentic life?

For more on discovering your true self, explore our courses at Wright Now. We have many different resources to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. If you want to live a life of MORE, make a choice to start today!


Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Harnessing Intention:
Embracing Your
Authenticity and Experience

On October 17th, 2015, I had the opportunity to lecture at our Men’s Basic Training, at Art Silver Center on the Wright Graduate University Campus in Elkhorn, WI. I’d like to share some of the highlights and background that stemmed from this inspiring and rousing session.

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre talked about man’s great freedom and individual experiential journey. Throughout his philosophy he discussed approaching life as a project, harnessing your intent and embracing your authenticity and experience—in other words, your journey.

Climb Your Mountain All the Way to the TOP

He likened this Life Project to a mountain. Whether the mountain is law or medicine or business, some hike a path up to a stream, they view things along the way, then go back and report, “I’ve been to the mountain and it was lovely.” Yet, they have not “climbed the mountain.” Others go up to the tree line, they look out at the surroundings, and they go back. They have not climbed the mountain.

There are very few that make it to the very pinnacle of the mountain—that tackle their Everest. The mountain becomes romanticized, lofty and unattainable.

When it comes to our own Life Projects, making money is the easy part. We’ve all got a few irons in the fire and at least one area that we’re working on, but very few of us will max out the journey and make it to the peak.

Harnessing your intentionality, dedicating yourself to your vision, choosing and being cognizant to handpick the next challenge—that will get you to your peak. Many people get out of Harvard, Wharton or another big-name college and think they’ve already reached the top of their mountain, but they’re still way back at the first stream….they haven’t even made it to the tree line. They walk out of school with an MBA or PhD and expect the world to be at their beck and call. They expect that climb to be an easy elevator ride to the top.

Then you have those who’ve had some success—they’ve made it to that first forest and beyond. They’ve made some money and they have it in the bank…and then they spend the rest of their life hording and protecting it, never pushing themselves to keep going and growing.

At Wright Living, we get these falsehoods shaken up and cracked as we go along. There’s a new approach to the mountain, which is in embracing the climb, the struggle and enjoying the Life Project as a journey. We delight in the good fight, the conflict, the engagement and the new experience that comes along the way.

Our entire research is about learning to embrace this conflict, delight in this fight, and stop feeling sorry for ourselves, licking our wounds. It’s about pride in the battle scars and taking up these marks, and supporting each other in harnessing the strength of experience and wounds.

We create this community of life-long learners who view the Life Project in the same way—who are willing to embrace the fight with us. They will continually go to the next challenge, ready to tackle it and overcome the fear.

This intentionality is critical—to understand our fear and still stand up in the face of disaffirmation. It’s about embracing life and going out to meet it as you climb higher on your journey.

When you meet a master, a winner—Pablo Casals, one of the finest cellists at 87 years old or golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus—you realize that people who are on top of their game are willing to stretch themselves. They are highly competitive. They push themselves, and still they practice every single day. They love what they’re doing and they understand their drive and motivation. They embrace it and allow it to propel them forward.

When you study students who learn instruments early on or great athletes who have aptitude toward their sport, yes, some of that is skill but more of it is drive. If they put in the hours and the time and practice and hone their craft, they can harness their intent and use it as a springboard for success.

The question you need to ask yourself today is: Who is the person I want to be? Are you willing to settle for viewing the trees, then turning around and saying, “Well, that was a lovely mountain,” or do you want to go all the way?

As Plato said, “We live in a cave, just seeing a vision of the outside world from the light leaking in.” Realizing your vision and gaining a full understanding of your Life Project will push you to your peak. You will engage, embrace your conflict and let go of fear. You will push yourself through in ways you didn’t think possible and continue to tackle life with intentionality and the support of others who are focused on making it to their peak as well. It’s a journey we will take together.

If you want to know more about how to work on your own social and emotional intelligence and growth, join us for our next More Life Training. Don’t miss our transformative high-value weekend. [Click here to learn more!]

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Want to improve your sales? The Wright Sales Program is a hands-on, experiential program that provides sales professionals with an opportunity to boost their sales performance through the application of social and emotional intelligence to their selling techniques. [Learn more!]


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.