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What Makes Authentic People so Special

We’re all born beautiful and unique. Sadly, many of us are convinced of the opposite. In fact, most people believe they’re not enough.

However, authentic people know everyone is different. They know real beauty resides in unicity and are not interested in chasing perfection or status. They don’t worry about other people’s validation.

Authentic people know not everyone will like them, and they’re fine with that. They prefer to be themselves and be valued by fewer people for who they are, than to be appreciated by everyone for who they pretend to be.

If we take a closer look at these people, we’ll see they tend to have in common the following qualities, which also make them stand out.

They Are Selfless Being selfless doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t care about your own happiness and wellbeing. It means you tend to care more about others than about yourself, and you’re able to be happy for them even when they have more than you.

Authentic people help others because they genuinely want to, not because of externally-influenced obligation or to obtain something.

According to an interesting article published in Psychology Today, Human nature is seen as essentially social and constructive, so the more authentic we are, by definition we will be more compassionate, accepting and altruistic. Authenticity will not lead to selfishness but rather the opposite, as we become more caring and giving.

How to apply this, in a nutshell: Learn to do things out of kindness and love; learn to feel the joy of giving.

They Are Not Afraid of Being Vulnerable “To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are.” — Brené Brown

Being vulnerable is scary. For some people it’s terrifying. However, opening up to others as you truly are is the only way to build genuine, meaningful relationships.

Most of us mistake vulnerability for weakness, however, the opposite is true. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, because, as Emma Seppälä Ph.D. explains, it implies the courage to be yourself, and it involves uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure — which is what authentic people do.

How to apply this, in a nutshell: Let go of the idea you have to be strong or good enough to earn other people’s approval. If you think about that, the more authentic and vulnerable someone is in front of us, the more we appreciate them, because we feel closer to them.

They Are Emotionally Mature As Stephen Joseph Ph.D. explains in an interesting article published in Psychology Today, “authenticity is not a free for all, in which anything goes, but a way of being that is defined by emotional and psychological maturity.”

In a study he conducted with Ornella Tohme and published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, they investigated how authenticity is correlated with emotional intelligence and mindfulness. They found that those participants who scored higher on their test for authenticity tended to be more mindful and emotionally mature. For example, they were better at observing their own emotions, and more able to accept themselves.

How to apply this, in a nutshell: According to Joseph and Tohme, mindfulness and emotional intelligence are inherent properties of authenticity. Also, they believe this is a two-way relationship: by practicing the skills of mindfulness, and learning about emotional intelligence, you may also give yourself the tools you need to become more authentic.

They Are True to Their Word Authentic people say what they mean and mean what they say. So when they say they’re going to do something, they always fulfil their promise. And if they don’t intend to do something, they simply won’t make a promise they know they can’t keep.

They are true to their word, which is a great habit we should all learn. As I explained in a recent article about leadership, when you keep your word, people will see strength, and you’ll start to earn their trust.

There’s a quote of Dorothy Ratusny I love, that perfectly explains this: “Your word is what allows others to have trust in you and in what you say. Being true to your word means that you always speak the truth.”

How to apply this, in a nutshell: Simple. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This is how you actually build trust in the long term.

They Are not Afraid of Telling You the Truth We learned about honesty and integrity — that the truth matters, that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square. Michelle Obama

As I mentioned, authentic people only say what they mean. So the last thing they would do is telling you a white lie just to make you feel better, when they know you actually deserve to know the truth. They prefer to tell you what you should know so you can make the right decision.

Years ago, Valeria, one of my best friends, told me another friend of mine, Greta, was talking behind my back and trying to put basically all our friends against me. Valeria showed me some messages Greta sent her, so I could see exactly what she was talking about. I was completely unaware of the situation and would have never imagined my “friend” Greta was able to do something like that.

Thanks to my friend Valeria I realized I could not trust Greta. I talked about the situation with Greta who confirmed what I already knew. I decided to part ways with her, which was the right decision.

How to apply this, in a nutshell: Whenever you have to choose between the truth and a white lie, think carefully about how withholding the truth might affect the other person.

They Admit Their Mistakes As Guy Winch Ph.D. explains in an article published in Psychology Today, authentic people are honest with themselves about their beliefs and behaviors. This is why they tend to recognize their flaws and mistakes, accept them, and consequently take responsibility for their actions.

Admitting your mistakes is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s something that makes you stand out, as most people tend to get defensive when someone calls them out on something.

How to apply this, in a nutshell: Keep in mind that admitting shortcomings to yourself is the first, most important step to recognize them in an honest way in front of someone else. Every time you know you made a mistake, make an effort to admit it, because, like I said, it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Takeaway These are the things authentic people do differently, and that make them somehow special. Observing the qualities these people have in common and applying them to your life can give you several benefits. For example, it can help you build a healthy self-esteem, improve your mental wellness, and build positive, strong relationships.

In the end, being authentic is the first step to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

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