• Dr. Jonathan Hoffman

It’s Great to Be Authentic, but to What?

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

We hear a lot these days about how important it is to be authentic to one’s ‘true self.’

What exactly is one’s ‘true self,’ anyway?’ Damned if I know.



And, what if ‘one’s true self’ doesn’t feel like changing a diaper, doing homework, going to work … sticking to their marriage vows, or treating an emergency patient after their shift ends?


Or, what if ‘one’s true self’ is feeling a bit rude, aggressive or self-destructive this particular day?


In life, there will be many times that your values (also, your goals) can serve as a ‘higher’ guide for your behavioral choices than your ‘true self.’ It may pay to remember this the next time you start procrastinating or another driver cuts you off.


Just a few examples of good values include being hard working, charitable, faithful, courteous, responsible and trustworthy.


Hopefully, the people we entrust with our safety and health aspire to value-based authenticity rather than the ‘true self’ kind!


Try this behavioral experiment: Practice being as authentic as you can be to your own ‘best values’ rather than to your own ‘true self.’ Do this for the next week and see what happens.

I predict your productivity will increase and that you’ll draw more positive feedback from others.


And that by using this approach you’ll wind up feeling more ‘authentic’ than ever.

(Of course, if your ‘true self’ and ‘value system’ are always in harmony, you hardly need my two cents; but please know you are either a very rare individual—or kidding yourself.)



Jonathan Hoffman, Ph.D., ABPP posts opinions and information to help you live a psychologically better life.


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