Unleashing your true self while nurturing relationships.

by Ilene Strauss Cohen Ph.D.


  • Explores ways to honor your authentic self without sacrificing the bonds that matter most.
  • Living authentically involves embracing and expressing our true selves.
  • Authenticity should not be sacrificed for acceptance.
  • Authenticity is acknowledging and expressing our genuine thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

​​​​​​In a time when conformity often takes precedence, embracing our authentic selves can seem daunting. However, as Brene Brown articulates in “Braving the Wilderness” and Glennon Doyle emphasizes in “Untamed,” living authentically is liberating and essential for our overall well-being.

Living authentically involves embracing and expressing our true selves, not the versions of ourselves that society expects or accepts. This authenticity is deeply intertwined with our sense of self-worth and self-understanding, as Brene Brown suggests in “Braving the Wilderness.” She proposes that venturing into our wilderness is an act of courage, embracing vulnerability that leads to genuine freedom and self-acceptance.

In “Untamed,” Glennon Doyle emphasizes a similar philosophy but through the lens of breaking free from societal expectations, particularly those imposed on women. She presents authenticity as an act of liberation and empowerment, reclaiming one’s life and choices from the confines of societal norms.

Both authors express the same sentiment: Authenticity should not be sacrificed for acceptance. Instead, it should be seen as the bedrock of meaningful relationships. When we are true to ourselves, we attract people who appreciate us for who we indeed are, fostering healthier, more fulfilling bonds. Thus, our authenticity doesn’t sever connections; it deepens them.

Understanding Authenticity

Authenticity is acknowledging and expressing our genuine thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It’s about being true to ourselves, even when it contradicts societal expectations or norms. As Doyle writes in “Untamed,” “Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong; it’s hard because you’re doing it right.”

Delving further into authenticity, it’s important to note that it’s not just about being honest with others but being honest with ourselves. This requires self-awareness and introspection, the willingness to confront our flaws, fears, and uncertainties. It can be uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, but it’s necessary to live an authentic life.

Brene Brown frequently underscores the inseparable link between authenticity and vulnerability in her work. To be authentic, we must show our vulnerability and expose our true selves to the world. This can be frightening, leaving us open to judgment and criticism. However, as Brown argues, it’s only by embracing our vulnerability that we can live authentically and form genuine connections with others.

Similarly, Doyle’s concept of “untaming” oneself is a call to authenticity. It’s about breaking free from the cages of societal expectations and norms and daring to live according to our own beliefs, desires, and values. This is no easy feat, especially in a society that often values conformity over individuality, but it’s a journey worth undertaking for the freedom and empowerment it brings.

In essence, authenticity is a lifelong journey of self-discovery and self-expression. It’s a commitment to living our truth and honoring our unique individuality. It’s about having the courage to be ourselves, fully and unapologetically, and in doing so, enriching our lives and the lives of those around us.

The Importance of Authenticity

Living authentically allows us to align our actions with our values and desires, increasing satisfaction and happiness. As Brown points out in “Braving the Wilderness,” authenticity also fosters a sense of belonging, enabling us to connect with others on a deeper level.

One of the challenges of embracing authenticity is maintaining our relationships. Maintaining relationships while embracing authenticity can indeed be a challenge. This is mainly due to the inherent strain that authenticity can put on established family roles and dynamics. In many families, members are expected to adhere to specific roles and behavioral patterns. When an individual begins to act authentically and breaks these norms, it can create tension and conflict.

However, Bowen therapy suggests that becoming differentiated or maintaining your individuality while staying emotionally connected to your family is vital to emotional maturity and health. Thus, authenticity, while it may be initially disruptive, is a necessary step on the path to personal growth and healthier family relationships.

1. Open Communication: Share your journey towards authenticity with your loved ones. Explain your need to live more authentically and how it might affect your relationships.

2. Practice Empathy: Understand that your loved ones may need time to adjust to the changes. Be patient and empathetic towards their feelings.

3. Set Boundaries: Define what behaviors you will and will not accept from others and communicate these boundaries clearly. This can help maintain respect in your relationships while allowing you to be true to yourself.

4. Seek Support: Surround yourself with people who encourage your authenticity. They can provide the support and understanding you need during this transition.

5. Stay Connected: Even as you embrace your authentic self, remember the importance of staying connected with your loved ones. Find common ground and nurture the bonds that matter most to you.

Embracing authenticity is a lifelong journey that requires courage, patience, and perseverance. While it may challenge some relationships, it ultimately leads to deeper connections and a more satisfying life. Doyle beautifully expresses in “Untamed,” “The braver we are, the luckier we get.”

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