Authentic People: 7 Core Traits They Have in Common

authentic people

Authentic people. Most of us tend to feel comfortable and safe around them. There is no hidden agenda behind their actions, and this is why we tend to trust them.

Usually, they’re the ones who stick around, even when they don’t need anything from you. They’re the ones who whisper you have something on your face and help you clean it off. And they’re the ones who have the guts to tell you your “best friend” is talking behind your back.

You know they’d never use you. And you know they’d never lie to you. Because they don’t even lie to themselves. They’re genuine, and their intentions are pure at heart.

Contrary to what many believe, authenticity is not an innate trait. It can be developed by virtually anyone.

What follows are seven traits genuine people have in common that you can easily learn to get in touch with your most authentic self and to help you build meaningful relationships.


1. Authentic People Don’t Seek External Validation

Most of us are concerned with what others think of us, our actions, and our behaviors. As such, we manipulate or disguise our personality traits to seek approval or to avoid disapproval. This masks our true or authentic self.

As mentioned in an article published in Psychology Today, authentic people don’t look to others for approval. They don’t surrender to the social pressures of what they should or shouldn’t do. The validation they derive from themselves is sufficient for their mental well-being.

As Travis Bradberry mentioned in an article in Forbes:

Authentic people are who they are. They know that some people will like them, and some won’t. And they’re OK with that.

How to apply this, in a nutshell:

Most people focus on themselves, on how they look, and how they’re perceived; they don’t have the time and energy to think much about you. So, don’t waste too much energy worrying about what others think of you, as most of the time, they’re not actually thinking of you or about you.

Yes, some people may care about your looks or the shoes you are wearing, but should you really care about their opinion?


2. Authentic People Tell You the Truth, Even When It May Hurt

Years ago, Diana, who I considered my best friend, tried to pit Luana — another good friend of mine — and me against each other. She told Luana I was talking behind her back and invented stories to destroy our friendship.

Those things she said were clearly invented, yet they were credible. My friend Luana came to me and told me everything, as she wanted to hear my side of the story too. I had proof that Diana told me similar things about Luana, so we decided to confront her. In the end, after many years, our friendship with Diana came to an end.

Unfortunately, most of us were not raised to be truth-tellers. In fact, we were raised to people-please. According to an article published in The Greater Good Magazine, we were taught that white lies are totally okay. We were taught to pretend, perform, be nice and avoid uncomfortable situations.

Authentic people, instead, have learned to overcome the limiting belief that they must make others like them. As a consequence, they have also learned to give up on people-pleasing habits, as they know that people-pleasing is one of the most common forms of self-betrayal.

Authentic people have learned to always put honesty first in any kind of relationship, and they are the ones who always tell you the truth, no matter what. Even when it’s highly uncomfortable for them and the person they are talking to.

How to apply this habit, in a nutshell:

Simple. Be honest with yourself and with others. Make it a number-one priority.


3. They Are Emotionally Agile

Authentic people have a healthy relationship with their emotions, and they have control over them.

They know their triggers and work on them. If someone communicates aggressively, they always respond assertively. If someone ‘pushes their buttons,’ they take the time to cool off.

Most importantly, they have learned to always take the time to observe their own emotions, to accept them, and to work on them. This allows them to have control over their emotions and actions. This is also called emotional agilityand it’s the ability to manage your thoughts and feelings effectively.

How to apply this, in a nutshell:

According to an article published in Harvard Business Review, to develop emotional agility, first of all, you have to recognize your patterns of behavior — ask yourself how you react in certain situations and what emotions you feel in those situations.

Once you recognize your emotional patterns, label your thoughts and emotions, accept them and make sure to act on your values — not on your emotions.


4. They Apply Kintsukuroi to Their Life

The translation of the Japanese word Kintsukuroi is “to mend with gold.” Kintsukuroi — or Kintsugi — as I explained in another article, is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer infused with powdered gold, which has the totally opposite effect of an invisible mend.

Rather than trying to hide the fact that the pottery piece has been broken, the repair of the broken piece using gold produces a result that is more beautiful and stronger than the original, unbroken item.

Authentic people apply this concept to themselves and their life. They accept their true, authentic self and genuinely love it. They have developed the ability to forgive themselves for their past mistakes and failures and see them as experiences, as events that made them grow.

How to apply this, in a nutshell:

See yourself as a Kintsugi pottery piece. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and see them as life lessons. Accept your defects and see them as what makes you unique. Accept, embrace and be your most authentic self.


5. They Are Open to Learning from Their Mistakes

As they forgive themselves for their past mistakes, as Stephen Joseph Ph.D. mentioned, authentic people also have the habit of learning from their mistakes. They are open to challenging their view on who they are, and they see past setbacks and failures as opportunities to learn and grow, always.

Learning from your mistakes inevitably makes you a better person because it makes you grow in any area of your life.

I love the way Adam Osborne put this:

The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake — you can’t learn anything from being perfect.

How to apply this, in a nutshell:

Always turn your mistakes into valuable life lessons. Think of the reasons why you don’t want to make those mistakes again, as it will help you avoid repeating them. Most importantly, analyze each mistake and think of all the things you learned from it.


6. They Are Emotionally Independent

According to an article published in Psychology Today, emotional independence is a type of inner resilience that lets you know you can meet, solve, and be comfortable with any circumstance you face.

To put it another way, emotionally independent people are ableto regulate their emotions and still feel good about themselves even under difficult circumstances. Also, they don’t need to seek constant approval, attention, and validation from other people.

Authentic people are emotionally independent because they have built their sense of self on their own, without depending on others to make them happy or tell them how they should be or what they should do.

How to apply this, in a nutshell:

Rely only on yourself to be happy. Find your passion, your life purpose, and make it your top priority. This will help give you a life you love. When you live the life you love, happiness comes from inside, and you won’t seek it from others.


7. They Laugh at Themselves

Years ago, I was working in a small customer service department. Our boss was always playfully making fun — in a respectful way — of one of our colleagues, Katia, as she was a bit clumsy. Every time he said something about her, she would laugh herself to tears rather than take it personally and let it undermine or upset her. Guess what? She was one of the most respected people on the team.

Authentic people accept themselves for who they are. As a result, they don’t take themselves too seriously. And they’re not afraid to laugh at themselves. For example, my colleague Katia seemed to love the fact that she was clumsy; she embraced that part of herself. And that exuded confidence.

Jennifer Hofmann, a researcher at the University of Zurich who studies laughter and emotional expression, says, “Laughing at yourself is one of the hardest humor skills.” I couldn’t agree more with her as laughing at yourself is not easy, and most people take themselves too seriously. However, it’s something everyone can learn through practice.

Also, according to an article published in NBC News, the ability to laugh at your mistakes (and yourself) can actually benefit your mental health, as it makes you more resilient against negative events and helps you develop the ability to face adversity with a smile. And authentic people know it.

How to apply this, in a nutshell:

Be less self-conscious. Laugh at your mistakes. Laugh when you fall. And laugh when you stutter. Don’t feel too embarrassed when you spill your drink on yourself; these things happen to everyone. When you let go of what others may think of you, you automatically become more confident.


Authenticity is the art of being true to yourself.

Things like embracing your faults, developing emotional agility, being emotionally independent, and laughing at yourself can definitely help you find and express your most authentic self.

Not to mention, observing authentic people and trying to emulate them can help you identify what you have to do to develop your authentic self and build a healthier relationship with yourself — and with others.

Ultimately, authenticity can help you live a happier, more fulfilling life.

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