What Causes Us to Live Our Lives in Inauthentic Ways?
Welcome to Module #2 of the coaching program on
“Focus on Authenticity.”
Why is it hard to be authentic? To begin to answer this question, you are
going to explore the influences in your life that may not conducive to being
Activity #1 – “What Causes Us to Be Inauthentic”
Read the summary below on “What Causes Us to Be Inauthentic” and
take notes. What resonates with you most and answer questions below?
There are three major influences that cause us to live our lives in
#1 Influence – People
First, the people around us (family and friends) don’t teach us to be
authentic. They do not tell us what it means to be authentic or why it’s
necessary. They want us to ‘fit in’ so we can be accepted by society.
Second, in most families—even “normal functioning” ones—family
members play specific roles based on years of unconscious thoughts,
feelings, and behaviors within the family unit.
Third, given that we all need the love, approval, and acceptance of family
members and friends, we let the expectations of others influence who we
are, how we act, what we do, and how we think.
#2 Influence – Culture
Our society (school and the media) doesn’t encourage us to “spread our
wings” and express ourselves in a real way.
‘Schools’ – Educational systems don’t encourage people to really think for
themselves or express emotions. Instead, students are taught to follow
rules, absorb information, and adhere to social norms.
‘The Media’ – Most of what the media feeds us is superficial and filled with
negative messages about what’s wrong with everything and everyone in
the world. When you consider how many hours of television the average person
watches each week, that’s a lot of exposure to messages that tell us that
success and happiness can only be achieved by embracing what’s
popular and fashionable.
#3 Influence - Ourselves
Finally, we keep ourself from being authentic. This might sound
contradictory but each of us has an internal critic constantly telling us that
who we are isn’t good enough. Whether you want to try something new or
open up to someone else, your critic is right there to tell you not to do it.
Your critic then quickly points out your weaknesses and reminds you of
how you will likely fail and embarrass yourself if you take this course of
Your critic isn’t interested in you succeeding, but only in maintaining the
‘status quo. The critic pretends it is there to protect us,
but its only desire is to keep us small. That’s why we end up allowing our
minds to believe what our critic says such as:
- “You can’t do that.
- “Who do you think you are?"
- “Everyone will laugh at you if you do that.”
- “Remember the last time you tried something like that and what a mess you made?”
- “Why do you always say and do such stupid things?”
- “You really don’t have what it takes.”
These accusatory statements lead to doubt and self-imposed limitations.
And being critical of yourself stymies you from being more authentic.
When we spend so much mental and emotional energy believing what our
critic tells us about not measuring up, how can we ever become more
* * *
Activity #2: “You should…”
Your ability to be yourself and live a more authentic life is directly related
to your awareness of when and how you’re being inauthentic.
This next activity will help you see another influence that may be keeping
you from stepping into your own authenticity.
Make a list of the things you and other people have said that you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing, saying, or being in your life.
Here are some examples:
- “You should get more sleep.”
- “You should eat healthier.”
- “You should settle down and get married.”
- “You shouldn’t wear that.”
- “You should spend less time watching television.”
- “You shouldn’t say that – you might make someone mad.”
- “You should stop get a “real” job.”
- “You should go to college.”
* * *
When others try to change us, this reinforces our feelings of inadequacy.
When we feel inadequate, we aren’t going to try to be more authentic.
We’re going to try to fit in – to get along.
The influences of people and society can make it difficult for you to do and
say what is true for you. Even your own personal issues can stop you
from being, doing, and saying what is true.
If you want to live more authentically, you have first to become aware of
and take full responsibility for the influence of other people, culture, and
even your own personal view of yourself.