A Therapist Gives 3 Tips To Help You Restore Your Sense Of Authenticity

Authenticity is a cornerstone of healthy living. Here's why.

By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | August 30, 2022

It's not uncommon for patients in therapy to express feelings of self-alienation. They may say things like, "I don't feel like my true self" or "Sometimes I don't even recognize the person I've become."

In cases like these, it's important to reflect on your sense of authenticity. Acting authentically (i.e., being true to yourself, standing up for what you believe in, and sticking to your core principles) can be a powerful antidote to self-alienation.

Here are three signs you may need to rekindle the relationship you have with the 'real you.'

#1. You're keeping a secret that you no longer want to keep

There's something alluring about secrets and secret-keeping. We all want to be 'in the know.' We want to be privy to information other people don't have. We'd rather be in the inner circle than on the fringes.

Much of this is based on our need to feel connected with others — which is not, in itself, a bad thing. However, there are some repercussions of keeping secrets that can cause psychological harm.

Secrets weigh us down. They affect our ability to interact and relate to others. The more we try to repress a secret, the more we find it popping up in our consciousness.

People who reveal a big secret often describe the experience as a 'weight off of their shoulders,' even in cases where the revelation may cause damage to their close relationships.

Much of this can be explained from the standpoint of authenticity. When we keep secrets that prey on our feelings of authenticity, we lead ourselves down a harmful path. We may cope with these feelings in unhealthy ways, such as numbing our thoughts with alcohol or disengaging with previously enjoyable experiences.

Often, the only way to re-balance our psychological state is to share the secrets that are making us feel inauthentic. Therapy is a great place to start.

#2. You're a different person at work than you are at home

For many of us, our jobs can make us feel estranged from our true selves. We are forced to wear a thick skin and we are asked to behave in ways that we may not feel entirely comfortable with. Many employees are hesitant to reveal their true personalities for fear of how they might be viewed by their colleagues.

In some work environments, there is a strong undertone of conformity, such that everyone acts in more or less the same way (perhaps taking on the personality traits of the leader(s) of the organization). Any rebuff to the status quo way of acting may be viewed by superiors as an assault on the organization itself.

If you find yourself feeling this way, it's likely that it is affecting your sense of authenticity. You may feel conflicted about the 'true you.' Is it the 'home you' that is authentic or is the 'work you' in fact the real you?

Over time, our psychology has a way of resolving such cognitive dissonance in one direction or the other. The problem is that without actively working through such thoughts and feelings we don't always control the direction of the resolution. We may end up becoming the person that was once a stranger to us.

#3. You're living a double (or triple) life

Most people equate living a double life with having an affair or hiding something of great importance from your immediate family. While that is one definition of a double life, it's important to realize that there are other, less severe forms of living double or triple lives that can also lead to feelings of inauthenticity. Most of them have their origins in simply trying to do too much.

Consider the following scenario. Imagine a mother who is simultaneously trying to take care of young children, succeed in her career, and be a good daughter to her aging parents. While these are all great goals to have, it's unlikely that someone will be able to excel at all of these duties simultaneously. Often, this leads to feelings of inauthenticity and self-blame (i.e., "I should have taken my parents out to lunch this week" or "I can't afford to miss another PTA meeting").

In these cases, it's necessary to practice self-kindness, realizing that you simply don't have the time to be everything to everybody. Scaling back the number of things you expect yourself to accomplish each week can help restore your sense of authenticity.


Feeling a strong sense of authenticity is a cornerstone of happy and healthy living. The next time you feel disconnected from yourself, take some time to reflect on whether you may be (1) holding onto unwanted secrets, (2) struggling with your work identity, or (3) trying to accomplish so much that you constantly feel overextended.