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Many individuals struggle to live authentically, often suppressing their true selves due to a variety of societal pressures and personal fears. Living inauthentically not only dims your natural vibrancy but can also profoundly affect your overall well-being.

To embrace a more authentic life, it's crucial to identify and address the factors that hinder one's ability to be oneself.

Recognizing the Barriers to Authenticity

1. Influence of Your Social Circle

One potentially significant barrier to authenticity is the influence of the people around you.

 Whether it's friends, family, or colleagues, the pressure to conform to their expectations can make you feel that you must act or think differently to be accepted. This pressure can prevent you from expressing your true thoughts and feelings, stifling your real personality.

2. Dislike of Others

Sometimes, a persistent dislike of others can reflect deeper personal dissatisfaction.

Those who often find themselves irritated or judgmental toward people may be projecting their own unresolved feelings about themselves. This misdirected negativity can get in the way of genuine social interactions and hinder your ability to embrace your real self.

3. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is a common obstacle that keeps many from living fully.

This anxiety can cause you to retreat into the shadows, avoiding risks that could lead to personal growth. By not allowing yourself to make mistakes, you miss out on opportunities to learn, grow, and express your true capabilities.

4. Unrealistic Life Expectations

It’s healthy to dream big but fixating on how your life should be rather than embracing how it truly is can be limiting. This skewed perception can trap you in a cycle of dissatisfaction, preventing you from appreciating and accepting your current circumstances and the real you.

5. Idealized Self-Image

While personal growth and change are essential, setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can be harmful.

For instance, aspiring to an unattainable physical ideal not suited to your body type can lead to frustration and self-rejection. A woman who stands 5 feet tall and cannot accept that her height will keep her off of the high-fashion runways where models average 6 feet tall will likely end up with damaged self-esteem and self-confidence due to repeated rejections by fashion houses.

 The key to genuine self-contentment is accepting and loving yourself as you are and making the most of your inherent physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual capabilities.

6. Resisting Life’s Natural Flow

Life has its rhythms and patterns, and resisting this natural flow can create unnecessary stress and struggle.

Embracing life's ebbs and flows can help you find peace with your circumstances and encourage a more authentic existence. No one can predict the outcome of every minute of their lives - going with the flow will help you lower manageable stress levels and encourage a more peaceful existence.

7. Embrace Vulnerability

Being vulnerable is often seen as a weakness, but it is a profound strength when it comes to authenticity.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable means showing up just as you are, without pretense. It’s about letting go of the fear of judgment and embracing the full spectrum of your emotions and experiences. This can deepen your connections with others and enhance your self-acceptance.

8. Set Boundaries and Enforce Them

Learning to say no is a crucial aspect of living authentically.

Setting boundaries is about respecting your limits and communicating them clearly to others. This not only helps manage your energy and stress but signals to others what you are and aren’t comfortable with, further affirming your true self in social settings.

9. Cultivate Self-Compassion

Often, we are our own harshest critics.

To live authentically, it's important to cultivate self-compassion. This means forgiving yourself for past mistakes, understanding your current limitations, and encouraging yourself with kindness. Self-compassion reinforces the understanding that being your true self includes accepting your imperfections.

10. Pursue Passions and Interests

One of the most joyful aspects of authenticity is realizing and acting on the freedom to pursue your passions and interests.

Often, social pressures can steer us away from the paths we genuinely want to follow. Reconnect with hobbies and activities you love and be available for them in your schedule. This not only brings happiness but aligns your life with your genuine interests.

11. Seek Supportive Communities

Finding a community that resonates with your values and supports your authentic self can be incredibly empowering.

Whether it’s a local group, an online community, or a group of like-minded friends, being around others who appreciate and encourage your true self can significantly reinforce your journey toward authenticity. 

12. Reflect Regularly

Regular reflection through journaling, meditation, or thoughtful conversation can help maintain an authentic path.

It allows you to check in with yourself, reassess your goals and feelings, and make strategic adjustments as needed. This ongoing self-dialogue is essential for staying true to your evolving self.

Taking Steps Towards Authentic Living

To start living more authentically, consider these steps:

  • Reflect on your relationships to identify if they encourage or discourage your authenticity and why.
  • Monitor your reactions to others to understand if they stem from internal discontent or unfair comparisons.
  • Challenge your fear of failure by taking small risks that encourage growth, and celebrate those moments of growth, no matter how small.
  • Reevaluate your life goals to ensure they are realistic and fulfilling, and if not, create new ones that are.
  • Embrace your natural self without striving for unachievable ideals.
  • Go with the flow of life to reduce resistance and increase happiness.

Living authentically means peeling back the layers of expectation and fear that cloud your true self. It involves a deep dive into understanding who you are and making conscious choices that align with your genuine identity.

By confronting these barriers, you can begin to live a life that feels more genuine and is objectively more fulfilling.


Living authentically is a continuous process of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-expression.

It requires courage to shed societal expectations and personal fears, but the rewards are immense. Authenticity brings personal freedom and peace, enriches your relationships, and enhances your quality of life. As you work through the barriers that prevent you from being your real self, remember that each step forward is a step towards a more genuine, fulfilling existence. Embrace the journey, for every moment of authenticity is a celebration of your true self.

Expressing Your DIVA: Practical Paths to Authenticity

Building on the core ideas explored in our discussion, this section offers adaptable strategies for incorporating these principles into your daily life. Tailor these practical paths to authenticity to fit your unique journey and personal definition of being dynamic, intriguing, vivacious, and authentic. Embrace these suggestions with your head, heart, and spirit, and step confidently out of your comfort zone as you manifest your authentic self.

  • Dynamic: Continuously seek new experiences that challenge your perceptions and grow your understanding of the world. This keeps your approach to life energetic and ever-evolving.
  • Intriguing: Share your unique stories and insights that arise from your experiences and reflections. This not only engages others but also deepens your self-awareness and authenticity.
  • Vivacious: Let your natural enthusiasm show in your interactions. Celebrate your successes and learn openly from your failures, showing others the power of a positive, resilient attitude.
  • Authentic: Always strive to act in alignment with your core beliefs and values, even when it's challenging. This commitment to authenticity reinforces your integrity and draws respect from others.
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About the Author Dianne M Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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