Since our monthly topic is about being authentic, I’ll be honest and tell you that I googled “being authentic”. There are times when I do this to trigger thoughts before I begin to write. I read several definitions and openings to articles and this one from tinybudda.com really caught my eye: “Becoming More Authentic: Accept Yourself and Stop Seeking Approval.” This is often easier said than done, especially for kids and teens. As parents, we demand that our kids behave in ways that we approve and many times we expect their likes and dislikes to be similar to ours. If they misbehave, they often face consequences. As they grow up, it can be a balance of providing boundaries and expectations for our kids and also letting them explore and create their own identity.
As a therapist and mom, if I consider all the ages I’ve worked with (approx 5- 80), think of my own kids’ ages 12 and 15, and ponder who may struggle with being authentic and benefit from counseling the most it would be teenagers to late-twenties. This is certainly a generalization and not meant to exclude anyone. I’ve worked with a variety of people in this age group that struggle with discovering who they truly are, not who their friends or parents want or expect them to be. This is no small task, and self-esteem also plays a role in being authentic. One should feel worthy and proud of who they are in order to be authentic. There are several techniques that I use to guide those struggling with finding and being authentic. Some activities surround self-esteem and others focus on how our thoughts, feelings and behaviors all play a part in who we think we are. Therapy is one way to assist people in discovering their authentic self. Another way is to surround yourself with others that are striving for similar goals and behaviors. This includes both friends and family, including parents. The more authentic we are, the more we are able to guide and support our children as they are discovering who they want to be.