Home » Blogs » Neuroscience and Relationships » The Secret to Being Authentic You – Authenticity, Part 1

The Secret to Being Authentic You – Authenticity, Part 1

How frequently do you say or not say something because you’re worried how others will respond? For many, this happens regularly, perhaps more than we’d like to think.

Often, it’s related to not wanting to come across like someone on the opposite end of the spectrum, who is perhaps oblivious to the feelings or perspectives of others.

Most of us say we want to live authentically, to live true to our values and highest aspirations, yet it is not easy.

Why so challenging?

Mostly because the “real” issues in our lives often lie hidden beneath the content of what we say and do about the problems we face. They are driven by limiting beliefs that cause us to think and react in set ways that:

  • Train us look for ways to gain approval outside of ourselves.
  • Judge our self and others, harshly and relentlessly at times.
  • Focus on what we or others lack, unfulfilled expectations, etc.
  • Activate deep fears connected to our self-worth, our value, our sense of self, etc.
  • Trigger the body’s ‘fight or flee’ stress response.
  • Teach us to use tactics of fear, shame & guilt to get love or cooperation from others.

Life does not have to be as hard as we make it. Being who we really are inside is what we each aspire. To love and live authentically is to feel our fears, however, and stretch past them, to tame and to transform them.

Why authenticity?

The discovery and understanding of the brain’s neural operating systems help us understand the inner dynamics.

In addition to being wired for survival, our brain is wired with circuitry for caring and empathic connection. The brain is all about creating meaningful connections in our relationships.

We are neurologically wired with the capacity to develop and live in authentic relationships.

Yet we are also paradoxical beings.

Often, for example, part of us doesn’t want to have to prove anything to anyone, yet another part wants to prove something, if only that we are right, or not wrong. Some of us may be aware of these dynamics, and others not.

The brain is designed for a life time of learning, yet limiting beliefs and thinking patterns can keep the brain ready to activate low energy emotional states of fear.

Authenticity allows us to connect to certain inner processes, such as awareness and self-directed change, which allow healing to take place.

In other words, authenticity is not just an option. Authenticity is a path to healing.

A journey of inside-out learning?

Life is a learning journey. We are each unique beings living in a world surrounded by unique others, with whom, paradoxically, we also share a lot in common. The best and perhaps only way to really understand others is to know and understand ourselves.

On the one hand, we are designed to be and stand up for ourselves with courage, and on the other hand, we care about how we affect others. This consists of two seemingly opposing drives to:

  1. Experience our self as known and valued for our uniqueness.
  2. Experience our self in meaningful connection to life (especially key others).

The choice to be authentic is a courageous effort to find balance between the two.

That’s a tall order. It requires us to be bold and honest with ourselves.

The root problem?

When our brain picks up a danger signal, it automatically shifts out of ‘learning mode’ into ‘protective mode.’

The subconscious works somewhat like the operating system on our computer.

  • If we hold beliefs that automatically activate our body’s “fight or flee” response, for example, they do not allow us to listen, know and understand one another in ways that help us to grow and to heal.
  • These beliefs are akin to viruses that jam the communication network of our brain and body.
  • Very simply, when our survival response is activated, it high-jacks our thinking brain.
  • To our mind and body, we are facing an enemy threat, such as a tiger in the jungle, and it prepares us to either fight it off or run.

To express the uniqueness of the love and gifts we bring, it’s essential to stop protecting ourselves from facing core fears, such as fear inadequacy, rejection or abandonment. Neither does it work to devise ways of not dealing with our core fears. We’ve all been there, done that.

The root problem is fear of intimate knowing of self; the solution is authenticity.

It’s essential to face and learn how to transform old conditioned fears. Authenticity allows us to remain open and vulnerable in challenging situations, which is how we can transform our fears into assets, such as courage, strength and wisdom.

The secret to being authentically you?

Authenticity is a path to healing that taps into the wealth of resources inside to move and shape us and the direction of our lives. For example:

  • We have inborn universal yearnings to thrive and to self-actualize, to meaningfully contribute to life and others through our talents, gifts and love.
  • We each yearn to be recognized and to be valued for who we are, and to express the uniqueness of our love and gifts.
  • Our every action is in some way an attempt to fulfill these strivings.

Who we ‘are’ is shaped by an intention, either conscious or subconscious, of who we want to be combined with who we believe we are and deserve to be – and our actions.

Our intention and beliefs project a resonating frequency that attract more of what we bring into our life and relationships. The more clearly we know what we want, the more powerful the ‘vibration’ we send out of our intention. The more conscious we are of what we believe about ourselves and what we deserve, the more aware of where we are in relation to where we want to be.

So the question of being authentically you can be revealed in four questions, which may only be answered by you:

  1. Who do you want to be as a masterpiece of your own creation?
  2. What do you believe is possible for you to create?
  3. Do you feel you deserve the very best in your life and relationships?
  4. What actions are you willing to take?

In any given moment, you are creating yourself. Right now. And now you know the secret. Your past and all the events in your life do not define you. Neither do your thoughts, experiences or emotions.

Everything you think and do declares your intention.

And thus what you ‘attract’ or create in your life follows from who you are, your beliefs and actions.

Why not make this a conscious process, a conscious intention of who you want and deserve to be, at minimum, authentic?

In Part 2, we’ll look at 5 essential steps to authenticity.


The Secret to Being Authentic You – Authenticity, Part 1

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

7 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Staik, A. (2013). The Secret to Being Authentic You – Authenticity, Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Jan 2013
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.