Instead of endeavoring to be "real," we find ourselves engulfed in a faux culture that promotes superficiality, dis-ingenuousness, and contrived achievement. Quite frankly it can be exhausting!
When we try to live up to an ideal based on the latest fads and trends, instead of flourishing and living to our potential, we end up losing our "real selves" and becoming confused.
Alternatively, we can decide to be true to ourselves, and let the chips fall where they may. At least they will be honest chips!
1. Determine who you are. This may be easier said than done because we are so highly influenced by marketing companies, the media, and peer pressure to be a certain way. We are often told what we "should" be and how we "should" behave.
In my article Dare to Be an Original, I discuss how it can be daunting to "be your real self." It takes courage to explore, examine and define yourself, however, it is necessary to get to the core of who you are.
2. Accept yourself as you are. Understand that no one is perfect. We are all human and subject to universal weaknesses, flaws and imperfections. The challenge, as well as the fun, is to improve ourselves and become better. In accepting ourselves as we are, we can more easily be who we really are, or who we want to become.
3. Practice expressing what you genuinely think and feel. Instead of telling others what you think they want to hear, practice being honest and telling them how you really see things. Of course, being honest doesn’t mean being cruel or offensive. It means telling the truth tactfully and in a supportive way.
Likewise, if you feel a particular way, don’t deny it and pretend you don’t. If you dislike your friend's outfit, don’t tell her/him you love it. Say nothing at all, or suggest that another color or style would be more flattering. Friends would rather hear the truth from you than risk looking ridiculous wearing something unsuitable.
4. Believe in yourself. Don't be afraid to be yourself. You are a unique individual who has a unique perspective and outlook. No one sees things the way you do. The world becomes a richer place when you make room for diversity of thought, sharing of beliefs and allowing for different perspectives - including yours!
5. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Being real encompasses being vulnerable. If you attempt to project an image of always being strong, unflappable, or unfazed, no one will fall for it because again, we are all only too human.
Everyone has their frailties, weakness, and missteps, and attempting to hide them is disingenuous. By being vulnerable you also encourage others to be themselves and open up about their own fears and misgivings.
6. Be open and sincere. When you're secretive and unwilling to engage with others no one will know whether you are real or genuine. Conversely, if you openly share your thoughts and ideas you project sincerity and authenticity. In group meetings, social gatherings, or brainstorm sessions, everyone benefits when you're willing to be open and express yourself.
7. Be willing to admit when you are wrong or if you don't know something. Quite often we fear to admit when we're wrong or unsure of something. We mistakenly worry that others will see us as weak, unintelligent, or uninformed. The opposite is true! No one knows or is an expert, on everything. When you admit you’re wrong or unsure you demonstrate that you are genuine and human. Others will find you trustworthy and real.
8. Remind yourself what you believe and value. It's easier to be real when you know what you value and find important. To do so also allows you to speak confidently and authoritatively from a genuine perspective, not just repeat what you've read or heard in a recent podcast.
Certainly, being real and genuine is beneficial both to you and everyone with whom you engage. Moreover, those who are genuine possess a higher level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).