Getting in Touch With Your Authentic Self

Early in life there was a time when you exposed your authentic self and were scolded, berated, and belittled for any number of reasons. You were told “don’t do that” and “you’re bad,” all for being who we really are; a person expressing your feelings, emotions, and desires.

This reprimanding leads us to respond with shame and guilt about who we are as a person. We blame ourselves for others emotional distress, and we lose touch with our true self. We become unable to express ourselves and experience emotions because we learned to believe it was wrong.

We now only feel comfortable projecting a false imagine that we hope will be accepted and respected by others.

I have been really focused on enhancing positive emotions in my own and other peoples’ lives, assuming this would be the remedy to help people find greater life-satisfaction.

I do feel this is immensely important and having more positive emotions is an empirically proven route to greater well-being and life-satisfaction, though at the same time we must also deal with core issues of our self-identity if we are ever to feel heartfelt positivity.

If you feel out of touch with the person you are meant to be, and don’t believe you’re following the right path, this post is for you.

Here is how the process unfolds to connect with your authentic self.


If you’re out of touch with your authentic self, realizing this incongruence is the first step. The false self is who we project to the world in an attempt to protect us from any sort of emotional pain. If you notice that you shut down from fear of rejection and failure there is healing that needs to take place.

In this stage we view ourselves as flawed and defective because we aren’t perfect. Learning to accept our imperfections and knowing we can’t please everyone is a major part of coming to grips with this incongruence.

Be aware of your behavior in this stage, when the self is divided addictions and compulsive behavior will be prominent. We will do anything to remove the pain of not being good enough, and attempt to fill this void with work, alcohol, sex, and other drugs.

Of course, these only exacerbate the problem and lead to more guilt and shame. We need to look inside ourselves for the answer.


Eventually we must face our demons and confront our limitations in order to get in touch with our authentic self. We need to gain awareness into the source of our split identity and come to grips with how this impacts our behavior and beliefs. Getting in touch with our “shadow” and uncovering the external idealizations we connect with is essential to ever be truly whole.

The roles and responsibilities we hold in life are not our true being, particularly if you have no intrinsic motivation and personal connection to what you do for a living. This is just a role that was followed in order to mask pain and feel better about shame and guilt from the past.

We may say to ourselves,

“If I become a doctor or lawyer or (insert any profession), I will be worthy.”

“If I have money I will be okay.”

“As long as I have this relationship things will be fine.”

Coming to grips with this does not mean we have chosen the wrong path and must change course, but it offers an opportunity to explore what we assume will make us whole and happy.

If your soul is damaged, external success and relationships will not heal this wound. It must come from within.


This can be very difficult for many people. On the surface they smile and tell themselves everything’s okay, but underneath they are teeming with past regrets and unresolved anger and shame.

We must learn to deal with these troubling sources while we continue to reorganize our life for greater fulfillment and happiness.

I am a major proponent of having more positive emotions in life, though learning to get in touch with our authentic self requires that we experience and accept a full range of emotions, including anger, fear, and sadness. I have spent a great deal of time trying to neutralize these emotions only to feel more agitation and frustration from their inevitable return.

They are natural and we must learn to accept them. This is the same for our limitations and weaknesses. We are not fully human without these feelings and imperfections, and until we accept our human nature healing is only superficial.

No one is perfect, and being able to embrace our imperfections means,

  • Not having to always please others
  • Be willing to make mistakes and take responsibility
  • Accepting those things that weren’t our fault
  • Knowing we are not responsible for how others feel
  • Being able to say “no” and be assertive

We can love ourselves unconditionally by realizing that despite our behavior which is not going to be perfect, we are still worthy of love and respect.

Once we connect with this source of love our behavior often changes and healing can take place more naturally.

Self-worth and self-trust

From self-acceptance comes self-esteem and self-confidence. We can begin to believe that we are worthy of good things and that we are capable of getting what we desire in life.

This is about coming to the realization that we are a “10″ underneath our layers of addiction, anger, and isolation. We have to get in touch with this authentic self, the one who is okay with feeling all range of emotions and who can choose to respond to these emotions in a healthy way. The who is willing to try and fail, and risk being vulnerable in order to love.

Having self-worth and self-trust will lead us to stretch ourselves to do more and try more and start to believe in the vast potential we hold. We will no longer simply live life to avoid shame and guilt, but will live life from courage, spirituality, and love.

Use the pain you have experienced in life as a way of gaining self-understanding and transcending closer to your spiritual nature.

We are not our life roles or profession, nor are we what others tell us we are. We are plain and simple one with the source of life.

Photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto

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  • Christopher Foster

    Great post Joe. Very exciting. Our outer roles and responsibilities are not who we truly are, as you say. Back of any of our roles or achievements or lack thereof is the timeless truth of our being that calls to be expressed by us and through us into our living in every moment.

    Yes, there are faults or limitations in our outer expression, of course. We live in a blemished world. But our authentic self is not blemished and as you so beautifully illustrate is available to be known by us right now. Just needs facing up to the odd demon or two.

    Every good wish.

  • Dia

    Hi Joe,

    Accepting ourselves at all times is crucial for our growth as humans. Without accepting otherselves at all times, then we are not living life fully and not caring for the gift that God gave the world which is each one of us. Thanks for sharing Joe

  • Jennlari1

    Great Post! Prior to reading this, I was just trying to make a decision about something and recognizing as usual how indecisive I am. I think this definitely comes from my fear of revealing my authentic self because of wanting to please and satisfy others. Thanks for the post, it created a great opportunity for reflection

  • Alex Blackwell

    Brilliantly written Joe.

    Getting real with who we are is the best gift we can give ourselves. The day when I could look in the mirror and not flinch was the day I felt my life begin.


  • rob white

    Hi Joe, Well said. Self-splitting is a big one. Self-splitting leaves us feeling confident in one moment and fearful in the next: The false self has us confuse responsibility with blame. We get caught in the insecurity of muddled action; stopping and starting again and again or darting off in two directions. Millions of human beings are reluctant to give up old tendencies, in spite of the fact that they know that the tendencies harm them. Self-reunion requires new action and embracing forward motion

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Christopher,

    Thanks so much for stopping by! By learning to embrace our blemishes and open up to our natural expressions of life we can grow toward our authentic self. It takes much processing and self-understanding to be willing to live life fully without limiting our potential because we were stifled in the past. We can connect with our true source and truly expand as a person.

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind


    Self-acceptance is one of the most important values to living a flourishing life. We must be willing to accept our imperfections and approach mistakes as valuable experiences for growth. By doing so we can begin to recognize that our purpose is to expand as a person and do our part instead of living from fear and worry that we will make a mistake. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sibyl-alternaview

    Hey Joe. Great post and such an important message. I really appreciated what you said about getting to know our authentic self and who we are deep down. I thought that statement you made about all of us being a 10 after you remove all the layers was so powerful. Great post.

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Jenn,

    Thanks for commenting as usual! Our worries about pleasing others and assumptions that how others feel is our fault is certainly something that can hold us back from living life fully. As long as we show others respect and appreciation, we must realize that others peoples’ resentment and anger is not our doing, but their own unfamiliarity with authentic self. Do what you must do and believe in yourself!

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind


    Thanks so much for your this simple yet profound comment! I think many people unconsciously view themselves and interact with their internal dialogue not really connecting to what they say and attribute to themselves. Overcoming past guilt and shame by recognizing imperfections and out of control situations offers true peace of mind and growth. I appreciate your wisdom.

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Rob,

    Living in incongruence leads to confusion and uncertainty. We can’t have faith in our action and motives when deep down we feel a void and lack of wholeness. There is a sense that self-splitting prevents integrity from ever really developing. Though we feel we follow conviction we are at the mercy of our abandoned inner child that is seeking approval and appreciation. With this motive in mind we are never really free. This has been a powerful realization for me.

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Sibyl,

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts! The idea that we are a whole and harmonious person beneath the layers of guilt of shame has offered me much hope and serenity. Our habits and behaviors that don’t provide solace and peace are not occurring because we lack something fundamental as a person, but because we are out of touch with our true nature. By getting in touch with our true nature we can once again connect with this empowered self.

  • Jk Allen

    I battled with a lot of things for a long time. Once I was able to accept myself, the inner-battles decreased and I matured as a man. I had thought we were supposed to be perfect. So when something turned out an adverse way (which always happened, because nothing is perfect) I would beat myself up. Once I realized the truth, it changed my life!

    Great read Joe – thank you!

  • Frank Jennings


    Wow! You hit on some really important points that we all have probably faced at some time in our lives. My favorite part of this article is, “No one isperfect….” I have taken responsibility so many times for the actions and emotions of others. When the fact of the matter is we all are responsible with getting in touch with who we are. If I don’t know me how can I introduce who I am to someone else.

    Great post Joe.

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Jk,

    I definitely connect with what you’re saying. I have always been my own worst critic and expected myself to perfect in certain ways. All this did was cause greater stress and anxiety, as well as shame when I didn’t live up to my expectations. When self-acceptance takes place it can be truly freeing. Thanks for commenting!

  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Frank,

    Someone told me recently that “if you can’t do it, then who else can.” This makes me think that until we know ourselves and are put together, it becomes difficult to really interact and care for others. By focusing on self first we no longer are at the mercy of other people’s behavior and expectations and can start to live life base on a strong foundation of self-esteem. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Christina Crowe

    A lot of people fear rejection and criticism. I was the same way once. But the key to putting all of those fears to rest is simply the knowledge that not everyone is perfect. You can’t be perfect – that’s just not possible. And once you realize and accept that everyone has flaws, you’ll learn to embrace your own and grow.

    Good tips,


  • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Christina,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! The power of learning to embrace our flaws is that we can accept ourselves and really begin to expand. Self-acceptance is the key to pushing forward while still being at peace and happy. Being content through the process is my goal at least.

  • JenP

    I ran a retreat about loneliness recently and when we were trying to think of reasons why we sometimes feel lonely, and ways of curing it, we decided that being our authentic selves was really important.
    It’s hard to explain but I think if we are putting on a mask and pretending to be different from who we really are, even if we make connections with other people, those connections don’t feel real because it isn’t our real self but our pretend self that’s connecting. For me to be really connected, I have to be brave enough to let another person see me for who I really am and, if they like that “real me”, then I feel ok.
    Ironically, it often seems too that people like the “real me” than the me I sometimes pretend to be out of self-protection.

  • Joe

    Hi Jen,

    Thanks for this wonderful insight and contribution to the post. It’s so interesting to consider the idea that we can interact with people and never really know them. If we are living from our false self, we never get to know someone more than on a superficial level. We must be willing to open up and get to know ourselves first and it will become easier to connect with others. There are different personalities but we must learn to embrace who we are despite our differences from others.

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