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The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh


Catalysts collectively harbor an overarching need for authenticity.  Yet, ironically, this is the first place we tend to "sell out."  We possess the curious habit of forsaking our selves and becoming big phonies in order to preserve false harmony.  Taken to the logical extreme, this becomes a survival game.

It's a cruel paradox!

How difficult it is to simply be who we are, without needing to pretend, lie, withhold, or just not participate. It's been estimated that 80% of our energy is wasted on trying to control things out of our control, instead of being joyfully creative in the moment. This keeps us from having a joyful, fulfilling life, and from getting the love and rewards in our lives that we desire.


Use this questionnaire to get a reading on your current degree of courageous authenticity. Rate yourself from 1 to 5 with 1 being “Describes me,” and 5 being “Does not describe me.”

    1.____Engaging Courage. I speak up when facing my fears of abandonment, rejection, ridicule, chastisement, or failure.

    2. ____Being Present. I am experiencing what is in the present here-and-now moment, rather than being preoccupied with the past or future.

    3. ____Being Transparent. I reveal my thoughts, feelings, expectations, judgments, interpretations, and assumptions, letting people know exactly what I am feeling and thinking.

    4. ____Welcoming Feedback. I am openly curious about how others are affected and impacted by me.

    5. ____Knowing Myself. I know my strengths, values, life purpose, boundaries, and inner essence.

    6. ____Spontaneity. I act and react in the moment, without constraint, reservation, internal judgment, or external force.

    7. ____Embracing The Unknown. I am able to let go of the need to know how things will turn out.

    8. ____Noticing My Intent. I allow things to happen rather than trying to control or manipulate to make things happen.

    9. ____Revising An Earlier Statement. I give myself permission to change my mind, to re-state an earlier communication, add clarification, or to clear up a misunderstanding.

    10. ___Holding Differences. I am open to considering viewpoints that are different or opposed to my own without sensing that it takes something away from me.

    11. ___Connecting and Re-Connecting. I see the value in everyone connecting with their deeper, truer self, and essence.

    12. ___Taking Back Projections. I take responsibility for my own judgments and interpretations, and focus less on what others do or think.

    13. ___Sharing Mixed Emotions. I express the complex feelings of my ambivalence and confusion, and I am comfortable with inconsistencies.

    14. ___Asserting What I Want and Don’t Want. I affirm my rights to want what I need and want, even if it’s unreasonable, or if there is little chance of getting it.

    15. ___Seeing and Making Choices. I recognize a variety of perspectives and choose to act in alignment with my values, wants, needs, and best interests.

SCORE RESULTS: 15 – 30: “Genuine” -- You are typically real and sincere; 31-45: “Pretentious” -- You are a high-quality image of the real you; 46-60: “Inauthentic” -- It’s time to stop hiding and let the world know who you are.

    (Many coaches offer teleclasses and other support to help individuals express their authenticity.)

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    Truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is boring without it.
    -Pearl S. Buck

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Living authentically is a huge challenge for INFJs.  Because extraverted Feeling is the process we meet the external world with, we are generally very intent on upholding commonly-held social values.  This can look like "conforming."  I have several INFJ clients who really battle with challenges around conforming and satisfying the "Collective."  This can look like getting a degree in a field that others approve of, dating/marrying the person others approve of, having the career others approve of...  Extraverted Feeling can be very Self-betraying in this way.

I know that once I came to understand, really understand, my preference for extraverted Feeling, I began to get an inkling about how many of the values I uphold in my life don't really belong to ME -- they belong to the Collective.  I couldn't remember whether *I* thought it was important to be polite, or whether I had simply taken on that value from the Collective.  I couldn't remember whether *I* liked Christmas, or whether I had absorbed that value from the Collective.  I wasn't sure if I liked wearing makeup, or whether it's something the Collective had trained me to do.  Everything I value came up for grabs!  And, even now, I occasionally have moments of disorientation when I can't figure out what part is "me" and what part is "cultural" -- to the extent that I even distrust this part of myself sometimes! 

When we begin to cultivate awareness of our thoughts and emotions, we begin to see just how much we live according to other people’s and society’s beliefs and actions. Don’t get upset by this.  Simply get in touch with how you really think and feel inside and begin to express your authenticity.  There's a technique to help you do this located here.  (Having a coach who will take a stand for your authenticity helps too!)

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    "I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself." 
                      -- Rita Mae Brown 

    "Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to." 
                                 -- Alan Keightley 

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    Being Who You Are
    Living Your Truth

When we are young children, we live authentically, seldom afraid or embarrassed to seek out what we want or to speak our minds. As we grow older, we tend to tuck that authenticity away, putting it aside while we chase our dreams, afraid that it might hinder us in our success. But we never let that freedom go completely. We may conform to society while embracing secret passions when alone. We may withhold certain opinions, though it doesn't change the fact that we possess them. It is important, however, to never stray too far from that youthful brashness and self-interest for they are qualities that help make you who you are. The authentic you is your true self and, in living authentically, you live your truth, making time for the things you love and projecting who you really are. The simplest way to live your truth is to leave the expectations of others behind and live the way you feel most worthwhile.

It takes being selfish in a healthy way by doing what you know is best for you, regardless of the opinions of others - even the opinions of close friends and family. Living authentically means that you make choices without fear, trusting in your soul's wisdom... If you value personal pursuits, don't feel forced into a certain job just to make enough money to keep up with your neighbors. Conversely, if you prize success in business, don't let others' perception of what's right for you hold you back. Denying your unique truth can lead to feelings of failure and dissatisfaction because you aren't acknowledging your true self. In living your truth, there are no pretenses. Everything you do will reflect who you truly are.

If you are unsure of who the authentic you really is, look inward and ask yourself what your purpose, values, and needs are. Honor your strengths and don't let yourself be guided by what other expect of you. Finally, discover your passions by trying new things, and sticking with those things that stir your soul. Finding who you really are and then making the choice to embrace your true dreams and desires will take your life in a direction that is both satisfying and deeply meaningful.

    Register here for your own free Daily OM

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Journey to Authenticity

The following Journey to Authenticity process steps described in this article are a very helpful guide to assist in directing and supporting you on your way to discovering and living your life based in authenticity.

The real life application of this process is ongoing and circular, depending on the level of development you are experiencing in any given stage in your life.

The Journey to Authenticity process steps to becoming your Authentic Self are as follows:


The Present stage is when you realize the life you are living right now is not working for you.  It is like waking up and looking around and seeing that you have outgrown the life you are now living.  You want more, or at least you do not want to stay where you find yourself, at this time.   At this starting place, you can clearly define what you do not want. However, there is usually confusion about how to change things along with a real apprehension about what may/may not happen to you if you do try to change your life and/or work for the better.

This first step takes a willingness to dismantle or disconnect from the old known way of life so you can begin to discover and create a new way of life that more expresses your Authentic Self. 

Catapult Illusion

Right when a person has a wake up call to make some positive or needed changes in his/her life it seems to trigger the desire to make the changes instantly.

Human beings want an instant answer or an instant cure.  We want to just make the decision to change things and ZAP! like magic... everything is instantly changed overnight.

We seem to automatically escape for a time into the Catapult Illusion, thinking if I read a certain book, go to a workshop/retreat, take a special class, see a good coach/counselor a few times… ALL WILL CHANGE INSTANTLY!

Boy, I wish I could tell you it was that easy, but the process of discovering your Authentic Self and bringing it into full expression takes time and a few more very important steps in the transformation process.  Yes, I said TRANSFORMATION.  You are on a journey that not only removes the masks (False Self) you have created and have lived out over the years, but it provides the way to dig deep and discover your True Self and have your Authentic Life be fully expressed.

When you take a step out there into new territory and the Catapult Illusion of instant or quick change does not work, FEAR rises up.  You look around and say “This is not working as fast as I had hoped.”  You try to run back to the way things were before you had this idea about making some changes and finding yourself.


Descending into the Unknown is when you have to face the fear of having left your old life and identity behind and have not yet established your new life and Authentic Self.  At this point, you want (and sometimes do) escape back to the old known because you want security and control, even when it does not work.  You are familiar with the way things were in the past and you are feeling very uncomfortable with how things feel now.  Things feel out-of-control and human beings do not like to be in that limbo place of uncertainty.

The unknown is a very important place to be in the void of two worlds.  Your old life is passing away and your new life has not yet fully arrived.  The phrase “fish out of water” is a good picture to describe the awkwardness of this stage.

The way to best take advantage of this transitional point is to surrender control to your Higher Power, trust the process, surround yourself with positive support, and continue to put one foot in front of the other as you work your way through to the next level.  In time, you will find the solid ground of being your Authentic Self.


Having the on-going support of good friends, an experienced coach, counselor and/or other support resources are critical at this point.  Good support will help get you through the challenge course of the Unknown and the continuing journey to fully come into your full expression of the New Known of Authentic Self.

Support will cheer you on when the going gets tough and remind you of how far you have come when you are faced with yet another life hurdle.  Your supporters will also celebrate all the steps you accomplish, and the full expression of your Authentic Self, and the fulfilling life you are creating.

New Known

There is a lot of work and deep joy in the process of working through the Unknown to the New Known on the Pathway to Authentic Self.  It is an exciting and powerful experience as you continually advance in the development of new skills in becoming stronger in being your Authentic Self.  Over time you become more and more secure in fully expressing your Authentic Self in every facet of your life and work.


As I said in the beginning, the process is circular and ongoing, even though you want to reach the goal and be done with it.  When you reach Future it then becomes the Present and you need to evaluate “What is next?” on your journey.  It is a lifetime journey that unfolds over the span of your years.  As humans, people never fully attain completion and that is the end of it.  When I speak of Future here, it is good to have a goal and vision you are moving towards, but at the same time it is not the finish line.  Each level and stage of life leads to the next stage of a deeper, more expansive expression of Authentic Self.  It is very important to be fully present moment by moment in the powerful transformational process that your heart and soul yearn for on your Journey to Authenticity.

-Excerpted from When Money Is Not Enough: Fulfillment in Work,
By Eileen R. Hannegan, MS, MCC,  Authentic Life Coach

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