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Authenticity: Guidepost #1

This is the first of a series based on Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts For Wholehearted Living. To learn more about wholehearted living, check out my previous blogpost. Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Guidepost # 1 – Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What Others Think I can’t think of a bigger waste of time, yet we all do it – worry about what others think.  There are varying degrees of worry, but whatever we imagine someone else is thinking is pure projection, as there’s absolutely no way to know. “They think I’m a bitch!  They think I’m a fraud!  He hates me. She thinks I’m an idiot….” Sound familiar? Some of this is developmental.  It’s common thinking for adolescents who have yet to figure out their values and who they really are. But I’ve noticed that literature for personal growth workshops and trainings (for adults), marketing campaigns and designer goods tout “authenticity” like it’s a lost art.  Have we really strayed so far from our true selves that we need the “experts” to show us the way?

What does it means to be authentic? A bit of research on the origin of the term “authenticity” revealed that philosophers (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Descartes, etc.) have been studying the concept for centuries. A very broad definition references authenticity as having “authorship” of one’s own life. The Wiki definition: In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself.

To me, authenticity looks like this: It’s catching a child in a moment of un self-consciousness – talking to themselves, dancing or skipping alone or with a friend, playing make believe, or exploring in nature. As adults we’ve learned to accommodate to the expectations of society but we also develop inhibitions and self-conscious behavior as we look for approval from others. For many who have grown-up under the judgmental and critical eyes of parents, peers, schoolteachers and co-workers, the price paid for looking cool is losing sight-of and/or even forgetting how to access their creative and playful selves.

The first step on the journey toward Wholehearted Living is to create awareness around the moments we practice self-conscious choice over our own desires. It’s not easy to let go of what others think, especially if it’s been your go-to behavior. But what would it look like to just make room for more of what lies beneath the adult veneer? When we take the time to indulge our creative/expressive/un-self-conscious selves, we access what really matters… to us. What goes through your mind when you imagine making room for one of these:

• Try a new sport

• Paint, draw, write, sculpt

• Sing

• Speak your mind

• Ask someone out

• Go back to work or school

• Dye your hair

• Change careers

• Try a musical instrument

If you weren’t concerned about blowing your cool, what’s one thing you would do or try?  What would it mean to simply share your desire in a comment right here?  I’d love to know.

Wishing you… you,


To learn more about Brené Brown’s Guideposts For Wholehearted Living or enroll in a Daring Way™ Workshop this fall, please browse my site or visit the events page.  Stay tuned for Guidepost # 2 – Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism

photo credit – © nina weinberg-doran


  1. hijoan
    the thing I wanted to do right now but am self conscious about is
    I was reading on facebook about a friend of mine with a big horse business in NH who was trying to get feedback on her idea of a having a ride and learn day (jumping and Dressage) to raise money for new footing for her indoor arena. She would have a professional from each discipline to judge and critique. She had a dressage person already. I was going to message her and offer to help with the jumping but I was afraid of them thinking I wasn’t good enough.
    Even reading about these issues in the comfy informative way you lay them out is very helpful.Thanks

    1. Author

      Go for it Ellen. Give yourself the recognition you deserve. You are so brave! You’ll never know if you don’t try 🙂

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