What is authenticity? Meriam-Webster defines it as, “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” That sounds so effortless, doesn’t it? Well, funny enough, it’s not.
Psychologists and mental health practitioners have spent years examining how our behaviors and decision-making differ when we’re in a group versus when we’re alone. Further, there have studies showing that most of us adopt different personas depending on whether we’re at home or at work.
You might be thinking, “so what?” What’s the harm in wearing a social mask or telling a “little white lie” if it avoids confrontation or spares someone’s feelings? Well, going back to the definition above, ‘authenticity’ means being true to who we are at the very core. So then, if we are in the habit of altering our natural reactions or censoring our genuine feelings in order to please others, that means that we are out of sync with our own wants and needs.
You see, it’s not bad to think of others, as long as it’s not to the detriment to our own well-being. And just as importantly, we have to recognize that there is a difference between pleasing others and helping others. Is your friend’s life going to be ruined if you tell her that you’d rather not go to that big event next weekend? Chances are, she’ll be fine. And you won’t have to exhaust yourself by wearing a face for three days.
Another way to look at it is that when you are people pleasing, you’re guessing what other people want, or what will make them think favorably of you, and then acting accordingly. In a way that means that you are manipulating other people’s perceptions of you. When we pretend to be something we aren’t or feel something we don’t, we lose credibility and personal integrity.
Further, pretending to be or feel something that you don’t, even if it is a small thing, is a lie. And even if you’re good at it, lying causes stress in our minds and our bodies. You’ve probably heard of a polygraph test. Those “lie detectors” aren’t actually detecting lies. Instead, they observe the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. The test senses a change in skin conductivity, pulse rate, and breathing. They also detect when someone’s vocal pitch has changed in an imperceptible way, a result of tension in the body.
Research has shown that when people are instructed on how to lie less in their day-to-day lives, their physical health actually improves. They report less trouble sleeping, less tension and fewer headaches. Additionally, they reported decreased anxiety and improvements in their relationships. See, told you your friend would be fine.
The goal of this article isn’t to say that we lie or pretend all the time. The purpose is to demonstrate that there are negative consequences when we do. Increased stress leads to decreased self-discipline, impaired relationships, and unhealthy decision-making. Although that happy face and tongue biting may seem harmless, in the end is it really worth it? When we aren’t embracing our true self, we’re only making life harder for ourselves. Life does a fine enough job on its own creating sticky situations for us. We should do everything we can to stay in our sweet spot—that place where we have both ease and power.
Reynolds Defense Firm understands that being arrested for a DUI is traumatic. Not only does it affect the person who was arrested, but it affects their friends and family too. Read more in our “Tips & Advice” section of the RDF blog for guidance for you and your family. And while we hope that you never need us, if you or someone you care about has been arrested for a DUI in Oregon, please call us at (503)223-3422. We’re solid, we’re here if you need us and we’re very good at what we do.