Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Just What is Authenticity, Anyway?"  Karen Wright wonders in her PT blog/article "Dare to Be Yourself.". Link below.

Below is an excerpted paragraph from Wright's article. The question she asks has been on my mind since the word authenticity became hot. Motivational speakers spoke of it reverently at conferences, corporate training extolled the authentic leader, therapy clients searched for their authentic core. Although the word and the philosophy of existentialism are centuries old, authenticity burst into the fore in the last ten or fifteen years when our culture began to realize that not much was "real" anymore. Not food or smiles, breasts or fabrics, rules or values.

Psychology sees authenticity as the result of the inner self (whoever that is) managing to stay uninfluenced and unmarred by the outer socio/cultural world (whatever that is). H-m-m-m. How can that happen? Even to an infant? How many people can even figure out what their inner self is — really? How do we know that our self-awareness (whatever that is) hasn't already been so biased by the outside influences (whatever they are) that we can't possibly be real?  I'm constantly doubtful particularly when people tell me they are authentic, or they ask me if I am an authentic person. Who knows?

 Regardless I thought this was interesting. What do you think about the authentic self thing? Please comment below.

Dare To Be Yourself

Just What Is Authenticity, Anyway?

Psychologists long assumed authenticity was something too intangible to measure objectively. Certainly Michael Kernis did when, around 2000, graduate student Brian Goldman approached him about making a study of individual differences in authenticity.
"I said, 'Well, you can't do that,'" recalls Kernis, a social psychologist at the University of Georgia in Athens, "because nobody thought you could." But the two plunged ahead, reviewing several centuries' worth of philosophical and psychological literature. They came up with a technical description of authenticity as "the unimpeded operation of one's true or core self in one's daily enterprise."
Kernis and Goldman (now at Clayton State University) identified four separate and somewhat concrete components of authenticity that they could measure in a written test. The first, and most fundamental, is self-awareness: knowledge of and trust in one's own motives, emotions, preferences, and abilities. Self-awareness encompasses an inventory of issues from the sublime to the profane, from knowing what food you like to how likely you are to quit smoking to whether you're feeling anxious or sad.
Self-awareness is an element of the other three components as well. It's necessary for clarity in evaluating your strengths and (more to the point) your weaknesses: acknowledging when you've flubbed a presentation or when your golf game is off, without resorting to denial or blame. Authenticity also turns up in behavior: It requires acting in ways congruent with your own values and needs, even at the risk of criticism or rejection. And it's necessary for close relationships, because intimacy cannot develop without openness and honesty.
Kernis and Goldman have found that a sense of authenticity is accompanied by a multitude of benefits. People who score high on the authenticity profile are also more likely to respond to difficulties with effective coping strategies, rather than resorting to drugs, alcohol, or self-destructive habits. They often report having satisfying relationships. They enjoy a strong sense of self-worth and purpose, confidence in mastering challenges, and the ability to follow through in pursuing goals.
Whether authenticity causes such psychological boons or results from them isn't yet clear. But they suggest why people crave authenticity, as those low in authenticity are likely to be defensive, suspicious, confused, and easily overwhelmed.
Considering the psychological payoffs, Kernis and Goldman ask, "Why, then, is not everybody authentic?"

My answer? It isn't easy to be authentic, nor to know if you are, and there are many times and situations where you probably shouldn't be authentic.
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