Why Nobody Wants the Authentic You

Being ourselves is much more difficult than it seems. We’re constantly bombarded by external factors and people who want us to say this, act like this, be like that. How many times has someone got in your face about something they perceived as a shortcoming on your part?

“Cheer up, miserable!”

“Why are you always so persnickety?”

“You need to pay more attention to detail!”

We live in the age of authenticity where the driving force is the choice to let your true self be seen by the outside world – no apologies. A lot of the articles you read offer advice on how to live more authentically and be who you really are in life, love and career.

This is not one of those articles.

Nobody cares who you really are

No one cares who you really are. Boom! Yes, it sounds hard and possibly even overkill, but it's the truth. We humans are always the center of our own little world. It honestly does not matter to anyone who you are, what you do or how you feel …. except in relation to how it affects them.

Now, I work as a copywriter. My job is to tell people’s stories. And those stories absolutely matter – it’s how businesses make connections with the people they want to attract as customers. It’s how they build “liking” which in turn builds “trust.”

But those stories only work to the extent that it helps people feel good about themselves. The first rule of copywriting is, you listen to what your customers are saying. Then, when you speak, you speak about their problems, not about yourself. Behave in a way that disturbs your audience’s expectations of you, and you’ll get shot down. You'll quickly find that people don’t want the “authentic” you after all.

What we’re saying here, is that authenticity is in the eye of the beholder. Customers are not interested in a business’s warts, or even its good points. All they care about is whether what you are saying stacks up with the story they want to tell about themselves.

The same goes in our social interactions. You can be as heart-on-sleeve as you like. But humans are relational creatures – we see ourselves in the context of others, and we see others through the lens of our own values. A classic fun-hog Artisan can be as spontaneous and “give it a go” as he likes, but a Rational will only ever think this scattergun approach is the result of poor planning, and a Guardian’s first instinct is, why don’t you just follow the rules? They don’t care about your authenticity … they just wish you weren’t so illogical/irresponsible.  

Which is another way of saying, someone else will decide if you’re being authentic, not you.

When it comes to getting on in life, high self-monitors win out

People want the highlight reel you, not the authentic stuff. Or, to use the jargon of psychology, “high self-monitors” get on much better than those who let it all hang out.

Self monitoring in this context is the act of projecting a particular image of yourself in order to fit in with others. High self-monitors readily adjust their behavior, chameleon like, to the situation at hand. They’re about as far from authentic as you can get. Yet research shows that they advance faster and have a higher reputation than those who live the authentic life.

And before you call these people self-serving frauds, consider this: high self-monitors earn their status through being extremely generous; through finding out what others need and helping them.  

What’s happening with high self-monitors is, they are being an edited version of themselves, or perhaps an amplified version, to grease the wheels according to social cues. They’re not being phony, they’re just exploiting the gray area – the fact that different groups have different expectations of us, and everyone is much happier when we tweak ourselves to fit those expectations.

(That last sloppy bar crawl you had? Tell me you’d behave like that in front of your grandma).

The point is to not compromise your character to the extent that you lose your true self, but to take careful steps to project a persona that causes the least offense. In that sense, authenticity is not the art of being at ease with yourself, but the art of putting others at ease and adding value to their lives.

The people you attract with the “real you” are incompatible with your growth goals

As the motivation expert Carol Dweck has shown, simply believing that there’s an “authentic” self can actually interfere with your potential. Children who believe a trait is fixed (like not being stubborn, or not naturally good at math) will give up at the first failure. Your view of yourself can determine everything and to improve your game, you need a much more fluid understanding of yourself.

My personality type is INTJ. Being judgmental is a feature of my type. And boy, am I ever judgmental! I didn’t choose to be that way, it just happened. It comes from a real place within. Which means that, to be authentic – to represent my true nature – I should allow myself to be a judgmental person, not an imitation of a non-judgmental person. There is no “should” in authentic.

To me, and to Dweck, this analysis is not only completely wrong, it’s a trap. If you’re stuck on being authentic, you’re effectively excusing yourself from seeing opposing points of view. The cards we’re dealt are the starting point for development, not a symbol of the “real” us. Why waste time proving how “authentic” we are, when we could be getting better? Why look for people to attract with the “real us” instead of ones who will challenge us to develop and grow?

Summing it up

Nobody cares if you’re being authentic because authenticity is self-centered. It focuses on how you feel about you, when really it’s a relational thing. It’s about matching other people’s needs and expectations with aspects of yourself – and never forgetting that you’re not one person but multiple. The trick is helping people to tell their stories while still recognizing yourself.

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writing blogger and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps writing-challenged clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. Jayne is an INTJ and lives in Yorkshire, UK with her ENTJ husband and two baffling children. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

Comments

Razvan Popescu (not verified) says...

u are clearly missing the point.  

of coruse its contextual, but most of the contexts strive for intimacy long term. meaning you want to be known as fast as possible, to be eficient.  

plus, you feed your philosophy and selfesteem by doing so, long term .  

theres nothing better than getting into conflicts . that how you - the other grows, thats how our philosophy grows

Men’s (not verified) says...

My authentic self tells me your wrong. Authentic self means your real self, underneath the  social masks. The business world cannot relate to this idea, because it’s all bullshit. Just like corporations are people... whatever smh. “You ain’t got no soul in you, you are yeast, baby.”

 Live yo life. Bullshit free. Your choice. 

Sync. (not verified) says...

I'm pretty shocked at the comments here. I thought there'd be much more 'enlightened' responses.

Anyway, after bouncing around from authentic to a couple years of self-monitoring and back to authentic to test it's effectiveness, I will admit that self-monitoring creates more rewards for me.

And let's cut the shit shall we...? When you're being authentic, you're wearing a social mask - just not one you fined tuned.

 

Thanks for the strangely on time article for where I am on my walk. :)

 

No mask here ;)

Bee velvet (not verified) says...

Be careful who you reveal your real self to, and in what situation. It takes years to find yourself anyway so keep experimenting! Are you getting back what you want? You maybe constantly surprised throughout your life at who you become.

HopeFloats (not verified) says...

Wow.  INFP here and you just know this rubs me wrong all over, as one of my "authenticities" is being real;  we don't do phony, can't tolerate phony and smell phony coming a mile away.  But...we also greatly dislike conflict, and we're by nature peacekeepers.  Any INFP worth his or her salt will know when to "shade" their true feelings or even dumb down their responses to keep things on an even keel.  We all do this-well, most of us do this.  I do know people who really cannot and will not do this, because that's their natural response: be blunt and let the chips fall where they may.  I deal with these people daily and they do make me uncomfortable at times.  However, there is also a part of me that admires their ability to just not worry about what YOU think of them and their thoughts and feelings. They do just "let it all hang out".  In the workplace, I have to function in shade mode-I am a professional and behaving in a professional manner often calls on the practice of tact, active listening and shutting up when I need to shut up.  In my job, I work with all kinds of people (I'm in HR) and because my personality works to help me read folk pretty well, I am able to adjust to their needs because when they're in  my office it's usually not for chit-chat.  People come to HR because they have problem or an issue.  My personal feelings or thoughts about those issues really don't matter.  I'm here to solve a problem and often to soothe concerns and fears.  So, adjusting (or becoming a chameleon) to that person's needs at that time is necessary.  In my personal life, I do this as well, just not to the same extent.  We are constantly in flux, adjusting to the needs and wants of those closest to us.  We have to, in order to maintain good relationships within our families and social circles.  Everyone is not like us, so we either slide up and down the emotional scale and enjoy those relationships or we become stone and hold to our own viewpoints, thus alienating a lot of the people around us.  I choose love, peace, understanding and cooperation so I willingly slide.  (Yes, spoken like a true INFP...)  As to  authenticity, I know who I am and my values are very important to me.  If and when they are violated I will find a way to separate myself (tactfully) from whoever or whatever is in violation of them.  That's also very INFP of me, but what I will work hard not to do, no matter what situation I am in, is betray myself. I don't think anything or anyone is worth doing that.  That's the way I remain authentic and true to who I am.

Abz (not verified) says...

Fellow INFP here! Preach! 

ENFP/ENSP with interchanging 'I' traits (not verified) says...

Very well said and I completely agree. Being flexible AND self actualizing is the keystone of emotional intelligence. I believe one can have an internal authentic gut reaction to a situation and outwardly react in a way that is appropriate for their audience.  I'm focusing this comment toward the workplace primarily because, unfortunately, the majority of people must earn a living to survive and keeping--and progressing -- in a career requires emotional 

Becky D (not verified) says...

Some great points here! Helpful authenticity is aimed at what aspects of myself are most beneficial to the other person - NOT at "being myself" at any cost. It's all about who we're centered on - ourself or others. if we're centered on others, we'll hit that happy medium of being ourselves while leaving room for being challenged and experiencing personal growth.

Dandra (not verified) says...

This article was very useful, thank you ♥

The easy, comfortable version I've made of myself not to be bothered to be better is ashamed and exposed after reading this. I HAVE to be better. There is no fixed idiocy, I just have to try harder.

Salt (not verified) says...

Thanks for the authinic honesty and the radical concept of middle ground, we all overvalue our own experience because it's all we have until we realize not everyone sees the world/others the same as us. It's very comforting to believe we will be accepted just as we are but it's not reality. People will agree we live in a fast paced world then expect other people to take the time to know thier "authenticity" it's a mixed message if applied to everyone, because not everybody has that kind of time or insight. If we assume everyone will accept our authentic selves are we truely accepting others authenticity? 

Me myself and I (not verified) says...

I agree! Thank you for a refreshing new perspective! Brilliant! 

-intj

Alphazu (not verified) says...

About 15 years ago our oldest son wanted to have more say in our business and start taking over.  We did not agree on a number of things.  He refused counseling with his mother and I at a business family counseling service.  My wife and I answered a very long questionare.  After review we met with the counselor.  He said my biggest problem was I say what I am thinking and am not concerned what people think.  My wife's problem was honesty.  Questions she answered, which confirmed previous responses, raised red flags.  So, her results were not reliable.  I was actually somewhat proud that my responses were totally honest and my "say it like it is" personality was confirmed.  It is one of my wife's biggest complaints.  She tends to sugar coat everything and treat real problems as tho they do not exist.  I think when used properly in business it actually helped our success.  One other result. The friends I do have, are true friends and have remained so for many years.

INTJ Marketing Strategist (not verified) says...

The author is correct. The bottom line (regardless of personality type) is you have to go along to get along. Being your real, INTJ self without a filter is socially immature and self-defeating. As an INTJ, adapting yourself to the audience this is a simple strategy for social and professional survival in a world that values the extrovert and is suspicious (and threatened) by the introvert. As a strategist, I have to be an extrovert to get the sale, but once I get it, I can use my INTJ skill to deliver a solution no one else can deliver. It's a chess game.

Andrea Delgado (not verified) says...

This is  data thought provoking... this  an inmmediate response of my impression, wich I assume might evolve as I give it forethought... Having said that well, my first emotional response is symphatetic, I agree that most people just want their enviroment and the people surrounding it to be of their advantage, so anything that contradicts that, will be rejected. What leads me to think about my self (yes.. the self centered aim). I´m always pleasing others, which I already know it comes mostly from a place of wrong patterns and/or poor upbringing, but something deep within doesn´t quite agree at all with the whole point of the article. I believe this is why I find so atractive people living off the grid, people who choose alternative lifestyles. And yet.. yes... I do also believe these people might be very self centered individuals who shut down from the reality of the world, or lets not go so far... maybe they only shut down from difficult parents, dissapointed sibilings, competitive friends, hardships of everyday life... precisely a difficulty to find one´s place, or to assert oneself in the system... who knows. I can only talk for myself, and I guess this are my motivations. 

Daisy H. (not verified) says...

Evidence has it that in order to be successful one's behavior is best determined by what you want from the interaction. Thus it is context and goal dependent. One size does not fit all and being your authentic self can pay off very well just as a total blending in can.

jujubee451 (not verified) says...

This article was spectacular. Truly an INTJ piece of work. As an INFJ engaged to an INTJ, my thoughts have lately been along the same vein. 

Today's culture is so much about identity and being totally authentic. And, as beautiful as it is to be true to yourself and your own values, it's also important to recognize that it isn't all about you. It's about building a strong community of relationships founded on commonalities and understanding. 

Authenticity is more inward focused. It asks the question "What makes me different from everybody else?" While that is an important first step in self development, it's easy to miss the second step: "What do I have in common with other people? How can I use those commonalities to strengthen those around me?"

An important part of developing greater love and care for those around us is coming to terms with the fact that other individuals are also developing themselves and placing their own values on specific aspects of life that may be different from our own. Jayne believes that tailoring our behavior to certain situations is beneficial and morally acceptable to promote unity and love. Some of the earlier commentors of this article vehemently opposed the notion, placing greater value on integrity to your own unique attributes. The point I think Jayne may be trying to make is that coming to respect those different values and tailor our responses to find a commonality is at the heart of social interactions. 

The main point that really hit me however is this: the nature of "authentic" is static and prideful. It can be self-centered, lazy, and isolating. When used improperly, it can be used to excuse behavior that isn't our best, and to demand that other people be different while condemning any differences that don't comply with our own values. 

Jayne isn't trying to criticize having integrity towards one's own values. She's encouraging us to take the next step, to open our minds to the world beyond "me" and use our unique abilities in various situations to help individuals according to their different needs. I think this is a spectacular notion that Jayne has written about, and fully applaud her insights.

Jayne Thompson says...

I wish I'd written the article as eloquently as you have written your response, jujubee. Thank you! 

Jara (not verified) says...

"The point is to not compromise your character to the extent that you lose your true self, but to take careful steps to project a persona that causes the least offense. In that sense, authenticity is not the art of being at ease with yourself, but the art of putting others at ease and adding value to their lives." -  Jayne Thompson

Jayne, I'm glad that you specified your background as a copywriter. The goal of writing copy is to persuade someone to "buy" an idea, product, etc. This article is wise advice for those who are too self-oriented and unyielding yet want to be influential and win "friends". However, it's not wise for those who are already too others-oriented and compromising, need to develop their own identity, and don't care about selling anything to people. Balance is key. 

When I was in sales and marketing for major corporations and my own small business, my "flexible" persona was very helpful. For a short period of time, I could become whomever I needed to become to sell whatever I believed in to my (potential) customers. I wasn't lying. I was highlighting what I knew would be selling points while de-emphasizing what would hinder the sell. (It's true that most people judge a product or message based on their own values, which includes whether they believe that the salesperson or messenger is likable and/or trustworthy.) I was also very successful as a political organizer/campaigner with this approach.

However, I did not consider myself to be successful because I began to feel "splintered". The infamous INFP search for "authenticity" kept rearing its stubborn head. And I kept feeling like I am wasting my time by selling stuff that has no eternal value and benefits. After I became more rooted in my primary identity as a loved child of God and He totally changed my value system and goals, I was able to bring my sanctified INFP-ness to my service for His ETERNAL Kingdom (sharing His gifts of love and salvation with people). I don't have to strategize and morph myself to appeal to certain people. God does it for me! He knows everyone intimately and purposely sends me to people who can relate to my story, and vice versa. Those who can't will ignore it. A different messenger will be sent to them. 😉

The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends. - Proverbs 11:30 NLT
 

 

Regarding "winning people over" with a good story, God is the best author, evangelist, etc. ever! 

Hebrews 12:2 NASB

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

JESUS: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3:16‭-‬17) 

Matthew 4:17‭-‬20:

From then on, Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. ”

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  

And they left their nets at once and followed Him.

Luke 19:1‭-‬28:

Jesus entered Jericho and made His way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name.

“Zacchaeus!” He said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased.

“He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because He was nearing Jerusalem, He told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.

He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return.  Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’  But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’

“After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were.  The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’

“‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’

“The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’

“‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’ “But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe.  I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’

“‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant,  why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

“Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’

“‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’

“‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.  And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’”

After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of His disciples.
 

 JESUS to religious leaders who opposed His claim to be God's only authentic Savior of the World: 

“Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.  For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them.  No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God." (John 5:41‭-‬44)

JESUS to His disciples: “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” (Luke 12:11‭-‬12) 

Acts of the Apostles 1:1‭-‬8:

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven after giving His chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after He suffered and died, He appeared to the apostles from time to time, and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. And He talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

Once when He was eating with them, He commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.  John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking Him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

Apostle Paul to new believers living in Corinth, a "Sin City"-esque place full of diverse unbelievers:

"Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings." 

(1 Corinthians 9:19‭-‬23) 

Apostle Paul to the church in Galatia when the religious leaders tried to undo his evangelism work by telling the new believers how to be "more authentic" Christians by retaining orthodox Jewish customs:

"I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to Himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."

(Galatians 1:6‭-‬10) 

Charis Murrey (not verified) says...

To be honest, I have not read all that you wrote, but a good portion of it. I really like what you have to say. I am a Christian too and enjoy a Christian perspective, which is hard to find on the internet these days. You seem to understand well what the author is saying and thinking since you have experienced both sides. I didn't realize the author's business was in sales, but what she is saying makes a lot more sense from a sales perspective. 

Thanks!

Jara (not verified) says...

Hi Charis. Thanks for your (honest) and encouraging reply. Jayne is just being very honest, which is too hot for some to handle. Some of the people's angry responses prove her point that people reject authenticity. Many want the "diluted" version of the truth that makes them feel good. That's what sells. So it takes courage and grace to live and communicate the complete truth, regardless of whether it will be accepted. Yes, it's rare to find a Christian perspective on the Internet. I'm glad that you "spoke" up, too! God bless you! :-) 

Proverbs 23:23 NIV - Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31‭-‬32 NLT) 

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."
(John 14:6 NLT) 

Blair Hollis (not verified) says...

Jara, nice piece.

As a Board Certified Christian Counselor I understand "how" you were able to sell products; it's becasue you believed in "what" they were and were capable of manifesting that belief in "who" you are. You were designed to reflect your uniquness in this world and that is your authentic self. So, being true to your calling means deploying your gifts u=in this broken world so that you may impact the lives of others. When you do this you are honoring God. Anything else falls short of discipleship.

Alan Heah (not verified) says...

Dear Jayne,

If I follow correctly with what you are saying, then I should join the chorus of hearty agreements here, that you have hit the nail on the head, that authenticity is another synonym for self-centredness, and that we should cease and desist at being ourselves, from here on out.

I should not point out that using the word authentic was the wrong choice, because it has positive and negative connotations that all get thrown out together like the baby with the bathwater.

No, I should not suggest instead that self-centredness should have been spotlighted instead, while encouraging the benefits of being true and natural, because by doing so, I am serving my selfish need to clearly distinguish such things in my mind, and I am not at all helping your story of yourself, as you wish to tell it!

I sincerely have so much to learn from you. :-)

nacsaattila says...

Honestly very few people authentic all the time. Everyone have authentic period but most of the time we use mask. Okey, few other people more time authentic and less use mask. We all are so selfish. We are a tiny particle in the universe...

I'm an INTP.

V (not verified) says...

As an ENFP I admire Jayne Thompson"s  astute insight. In fact I consider it wisdom in human psychology. 

Charis Murrey (not verified) says...

I think it's completely possible to be authentic and still self-less. Being authentic doesn't mean you don't work on your faults. It just means that you're honest with others and yourself. While this author presents an interesting perspective, I think she is missing the point. While it may be more rewarding to be "phony", it is still wrong because you are lying to people. You can't please everyone. At the same time, being authentic doesn't mean you can say whatever you want without regard to situation or other people's feelings. It just means you are honest and don't pretend or act as a chameleon. I think people on both sides of this issue need to think this through better.

P.S. - I am an INFJ.

ChristinaR (not verified) says...

You have provoked the INFs! Agreeing totally with Charis Murray that authenticity isn't the same as being selfish. (I'm another INFJ) There is a third way where you are authentic AND interested in understanding other people. I would say that achieving this is the ultimate aim of INFJ life. What you say may (or may not) be true of marketing/advertising, whose aim is to sell more, without any interest in who is buying, but it is not true of personal relationships. The most effective way to find people who are worth knowing is to be yourself and see how they respond. If they are able to accommodate difference then they will be a good bet. If they imitate you, not so much. If you want them to feel good about you so they will buy what you're selling, then I would agree you have to adapt to them, but that doesn't mean you have to be fake. This is not an either/or situation. And don't forget that a proportion of your market will be easily able to recognise if you are being false.

 

Charis Murrey (not verified) says...

Yay, another INFJ! I agree with you. To be honest, from reading the descriptions of INFJs it sounds like they tend to understand how to be authentic without being rude or disregarding other people's feelings. I'm not saying INFJs are exempt from being self-centered... Although while INFJs are supposed to be great at reading situations and not hurting people's feelings, I can be extremely blunt at times. I am not trying to be hurtful but do not always think people's "feelings" or comfort zone is the most important thing. Of course, if someone is being honest with us we need to treat them with the same respect that we expect ourselves. Sometimes there are things that need to be said even if people disagree ( believe me, I know, at my school I am in the minority, as in the only one defending my opinion, 95% of the time). 

ChristinaR (not verified) says...

Oh yes! Good to meet you here. 

So much of the time I am the one representing the unspoken stuff, or the difficult truth, on behalf of the group, as it were. As I've got older I have become less tactful, because I have noticed that if I'm too tactful people often think I am being apologetic or unsure of what I'm  saying, so don't take it seriously. 

uginger (not verified) says...

Somehow the article makes me think you're mixing authenticity with being a dick, excuse my French.

Is it so hard to accept that everyone is multifaceted, including having a lot of masks. Isn't that part of the authenticity? And what's wrong with wanting to play the game? Which part of having fun makes me any less authentic?

Yes, I am selfish, everyone is. If they're saying they're not, they're lying. And if I feel like putting on a mask, I'll do it, sometimes just for the fun of it. I do that for me and me only, even when I care for people who are close to me, I still do it for me, bacause it makes me feel good. Does that makes me any less authentic? Mh, I wonder XD

Guest (not verified) says...

I think this article is spot on!

CHRIS LYNCH (not verified) says...

Well, Ms. Thompson, what a great discussion you've started!

From the responses here, it is obvious (to me, anyway) that we are no longer in the realm of psychology but of morality--what one should and should not do.  And the fact of the matter is that authenticity is misunderstood, and that the misunderstanding is the cause of much grief. 

Should we "be authentic"?  The pithy answer is that if you are a good person, then be yourself.  Otherwise, don't!

Catholic psychology (as I learned it) would tell you that we have various impulses and motivations which conflict with each other, some lower (e.g., “drives”, as for food and sleep), some higher, some which are perfective of our nature, some which take us away from our nature, and some which do neither.  This is all predicated on the idea that we are created according to “human nature”, which is good, but imperfect.  We pursue Good, but we don't always correctly perceive what that is. Or we are tired, sick, or otherwise unable to execute on our good intentions. We should use our faculty of reason to judge between these aspects of ourselves, and work towards strengthening the good ones. 

This is simultaneously a psychology of hope and caution: hope because there is much good in you, which you were made (by God) to show and share with others for their benefit, and caution because there are parts that, frankly, "need work".  Humility demands that we familiarize ourselves with these flaws and weaknesses, work on them, and apologize for them when they damage our relationships.  Humility also demands that we acknowledge that we may have blind spots when it comes to our own faults, and take it seriously when someone points out something negative about us.  In the interest of building genuinely human community with those around us, we should also strive to forgive others when their faults and weaknesses hurt us.  On a happier note, a true sense of dignity and self-worth results from seeing the good in ourselves and being thankful for it.  None of this is easy.  But it is possible, and it is worth it.

Of course you could dismiss all this as religious BS, but what would you replace it with? If you give it any thought at all, you realize that authenticity as a concept depends critically on a concept of human nature, or if you don't believe there is such a thing as human nature, then at least your understanding of your own personal nature as a unique individual.  However, if you take this approach, notice that it might not be compatible with other people's ideas of what they are and what you are--a recipe for bitter conflict which, unfortunately, we see all around us.

So, going back to authenticity, view yourself as a mix of positive and negative things, and let others see that you see yourself this way.  This lets you “be authentic” without using authenticity as an excuse for being self-centered, and without being treated like a doormat, either.

Liz W. (not verified) says...

INFP here! 

Wouldn't it still be authentic for one to be always changing, adapting, receiving new ideas?  Isn't that part of learning and growing?  Authenticity is not a fixed way of being, it's being you in an ever evolving state, which can really be whatever it ends up being.  To me that would be authenticity.  I don't see in black and white though, I see all gray with a light of possibilities!

Basically, you choose your actions every day and sometimes they are filtered, sometimes they are not.  Sometimes you want to be "selfish" and other times you want to help others.  This is not a matter of whether you are being authentic or not.  It is a matter of choosing your actions and how it will create the next ripple effect, whether positive or negative.  It is authentic to admit your faults or weaknesses vs. strengths, so choosing your actions would then still be authentically you creating the next moment in time.

Perfection does not exist and everyone's standards are different, so I guess I believe in creating a positive state of mind with love and not fear and sharing the positive each day, while always learning and growing.  For me it is both selfish and selfless.  A journey of creating the best life possible for myself and others around me.  I appreciate you all and your different points of view!  Let's build on it!

Blair Hollis (not verified) says...

INFP

What does it matter "what" other thnk of you? Being authentic means you are in tune with "who" you are! Projecting your uniqueness in "what" you do is what really matters. From a psychological perspective, when you manifest this attitude it impacts your emotional state, which in turn directly effects your behavior.

From a moral perspective, when others witness your self-efficacy they will wonder, "what" is it that is offering him/her such contentment?

So, the authentic self is this: "what" you do is a reflection of "who" you are. It is an internal belief system that channels your values, beliefs, passion, interests, and inherent gifts into something that truly matters. Otherwise, you leave part of your "self" at home when you head to work. This will be depleting.

Gallup (2015) argues 70% of the workforce is disegngaged with their work. From a spiritual perspective, this disconnect is largely due to the ubiqutous problem that we do not risk being "who" we were designed to become.

Liz W. (not verified) says...

I agree with your point too, Blair Hollis!  Good insight!  

INFJ here (not verified) says...

Interesting POV !   My husband is not authentic at all... people love him and see him as a very helpful, extremely likable guy! He never has opinions, never enters conflict.  Very popular!

   I, on the other hand, struggle in my authenticity .  LOL

thanks for the article. !

Stacy_A (not verified) says...

Here's a question.  What best course of action can INFJs (✋) take when they observe high-self monitors (highly empowered by their authentic traits and highly efficacious in skillfully exploiting gray areas) become a danger to themselves and others?  Jayne, any tips from you are most welcome.

Tim H (not verified) says...

Thanks Jayne for a great, thought provoking article. Looking at this from an INFP perspective, the no-nosense, say-it-as-it is style of the piece might be viewed as an INTJ being the most authentic version of themselves. I "feel" (INFP as I am) that authenticity is getting a bad rap and that what is being defined as authenticity is perhaps not in fact authenticity in the best sense of the word.

It would seem that true authenticity is actually what is being argued for. Through learning to adapt, self evaluate and evolve, we are actually becoming more authentic; more balanced, more agile and more wise and that is not the same as being a fraud, a fake or a chameleon. And people (we) value that kind of authenticity, though we may not want it in every context. It inspires, uplifts and gives hope. So whilst I agree with the arguments, arguing against authenticity is perhaps the wrong starting point. But maybe this was in fact deliberately being done to reveal an erronous idea of authenticity by using a provocative tone and style. Is this an authentic or "edited version" approach......?

"Children who believe a trait is fixed (like not being stubborn, or not naturally good at math) will give up at the first failure." Should someone who is not stubborn endeavour to be stubborn or identify that their lack of stubbornness can rather be framed as "flexible" and "adaptable" and that there are times when I need to stand up for myself and times when my flexibilty is a valuable asset? I struggled with maths my whole school life and beyond. Maths will never be my subject. It ellicted anxiety and fear. But eventually after several attempts I overcame my fear and anxiety and with the help and support of understanding mentors, I passed my High/Secondary School Grade Maths exam. I will never be "naturally good at maths", have no desire or need to be and am glad that there are others who can fill that role. But overcoming the fear and anxiety I associated with maths was the most beneficial, rewarding and self empowering experience. I was discovering the "authentic" me that was hidden under all those negative feelings. 

Perhaps the title of the article should rather read "Why Not Everyone Wants the Authentic You"

Thanks once again Jayne for a thought provoking article!

M (supposedly ENTP) (not verified) says...

Let me share with you the opposite side of the same story...
(this is going to be long and complex for a non-native speaker, so bear with me)

Due to some personal developmental challenges I've started discovering my "real authentic self" only recently, in my mid-thirties. I've spent most of my life basically wearing masks, to the point that I was wearing a mask even in front of the mirror. There was never manipulative nor malicious intent; simply, the message of the article was, like, hardwired into my brain since infancy. You know, it's never been even conscious, let alone intentional or malicious. Maybe it's because of my type, lol.

I got along well with... well not everyone, but every kind of person. I was like a chameleon. The problem is, I couldn't remember my original color. Then something changed.

And let me tell you that this discovery of my "true self" is awesome. Inspiring.
Well, literally "awesome" as in "inspiring awe".

I'm still working on this path and I believe (the optimist's word for "hope") that it will be largely rewarding on the long run, even if I had to destroy EVERY single component of my previous self image. You know, at least I'm finally taking the time to f***ing STOP and WAIT and LISTEN to what on Earth I really want for myself.

So, wow, wonderful... in a way.

Except, GUESS WHAT!
No matter how personally rewarding the process may be, it brought a few problems along the way with it. I have NEVER, EVER had so many problems with people as during this period.

And whilst that could be easily understandable, I also NEVER EVER had so many problems with my personal self image, too! – because you know, your REAL "true self" includes all your darker sides, too... and they come out like a stripper from a cake, except they're ugly and stinky and they yell "SURPRISE M********ER!" with a disturbing voice.

I'm not talking about murder, just... you know when you stick too much to your perceived positive self-image like "I am not aggressive/arrogant/promiscuous/whatever"? Well turns out you might have, deep inside, the tendency to [insert indesirable/deviant behavior/trait/flaw] after all. That doesn't mean you WILL behave in a wrong way, but it's scary nonetheless. I, for one, found out I have a few traits that are not intrinsically WRONG, but that I have profoundly despised all my life.

Discover your inner authentic self, get to know it DEEPLY (but beware, it can be freakin' scary) and work on it. Meanwhile, understand that (almost) nobody out there can be bothered by your AUTHENTIC self. If nothing else, because your REAL authentic self has probably little to do with what you think of yourself, or at least, scaringly less than you believe.

Find out who you are, celebrate the good, and tolerate the bad – while you work to improve as a person.
Just don't assume that the world will care about your "real me". Which –I can never stress this point enough– is not (only) what you think of yourself.

Keep it for you as a guide, and maybe for your closest friends and significant other (and not even always).
The rest of the world wants your "socially-acceptable-self" and, with just a few exceptions, nothing else.

As for me... I'm facing the hard challenge of balancing the "real me" with my collection of masks.
Luckily, I have collected many, so I can drop those that won't fit me anymore... but I'll keep the rest of them.

And I humbly suggest we all do the same.
Don't see them as masks, but rather as filters. Make-up to cover the inevitable warts.

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