How to be your authentic self at work

Smiling young African American businesswoman working on a laptop at her desk in a bright modern office with colleagues in the background

Many people struggle with being authentic.

We often express or hide various sides of our personas depending on the environment or situation. Our workplace is no different, as we often use one persona during the interview process and another one on the job, especially after our probationary period. The on-the-job persona is usually very different than the one we use at home or with friends. With all these different versions to keep track of, it’s no wonder, so many of us struggle with burnout after years of working a job.

There comes a time in most of our lives when we outgrow our old personas or just get tired of playing a role. Most of us aren’t getting paid for our acting abilities. So, why do so many of us suffer from playing these roles? Do we fear being our authentic selves and think we are not enough? In short, the answer for most of us is, yes, but it isn’t our fault.

Sadly, many of these ideas about roles were taught to us long before we even had words to describe it. As children, we watched our parents, family, teachers, and religious leaders metamorphosis into different variations of themselves dictated by the different environments. These behaviors were then cemented by various mediums like TV, magazines, and news. So naturally, as we develop, we mimic and model these role-playing behaviors as a method in which to successfully navigate life. After a life spent role-playing, some of us don’t even know who we are. Many of us don’t consciously choose to be our authentic selves 24/7. Life has taught us that these roles can sometimes be a safer way to live, often protecting us from hurt. Unfortunately, these roles often become permeant barriers of defense for many. Just as much as they soften a blow from pain, they dull the joy from pleasure.

To break down these heavily ingrained thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors associated with role-playing requires a conscious choice. For those who want to consistently show up as our authentic selves to experience all that life has to offer, these steps will get us started.

  1. Be the observe of your life. Remain child-like and curious about who you really are. Try to watch your thoughts, actions, and communications from a non-judgmental third-party perspective. Ask yourself why until you get to the root belief that the thoughts, actions, and communications are derived from.
  2. Develop an attitude of compassion. These thoughts, beliefs, and actions did not develop overnight, so do not judge yourself when your representative shows up on your behalf. Just thank your representative for their contributions thus far.
  3. Make a note of your top three root beliefs that you uncovered which are not true to you.
  4. Create new beliefs about yourself in place of the ones you’re removing. These can be what is true now or what you want to be true about yourself later.
  5. Create ways to reinforce your new beliefs and retrain your mind. Examples could be, mantras, scripting, meditations, movements, or affirmations.
  6. Repeat steps as often as needed until you’ve peeled back all the layers you’ve built up around your true self.
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When we connect to our authentic self, we will uncover that our connection to things has drastically improved and, in most cases, gotten more profound and stronger. It’s likely to find ourselves drawn to things from our past that we thought we outgrew or didn’t like anymore. Just to note, the layers we built up around ourselves separate us, so it’s challenging to connect with anything truly. A reconnect to our “why” in life might be rekindled and thus falling back in love with our job. However, if you may find yourself resentful of playing a role for all those years, questioning whether you still belong or fit in at your current job, that is also okay. Here are some things to consider.

  • Focus on what brings you alive in your work. When you first started, and everything was new and exciting. Often, we forget why we originally applied for a particular company or role. Choose something at work that lights you up and find ways to spend more time involved in those types of activities.
  • Focus on what is working and what makes it work. When you purposely redirect your concentration on the good things, it helps to distract from what’s not so pleasant. This method also helps you retrain your mind to seek out more positive experiences at work and in life.

Life is meant to be lived, and it is up to you to choose how you want to live it. However, if you’ve been playing roles based on limiting belief or expectation, then it’s safe to say there is a lot more life out there for you to live. Choose you and show up to life and work. Who knows, co-workers might like the real you you’ve hidden away as opposed to the representative that’s been showing up. Also, consider especially in leader position when you show up as your authentic selves you permit others to show up as their authentic selves too.

About the author

Arika TrimnellArika Modupe’ Trimnell is a spiritual and mindfulness professional who aims to help others heal from the past, align with the present, and surface profound clarity to build a wonderful, empowering future. As the founder of Prism Vibes, Arika has an extensive background when it comes to religious teachings, inner activation, and soul realignment and enjoys leveraging that to guide purpose seekers towards living a life filled with purpose and happiness. 

With a degree in biology and having worked in educational sales and higher education for over 10 years helping children live their full purpose, Arika believes people are their own guru, and there are multiple paths you can take to uncover and ignite your internal power to break past mental, emotional, and spiritual blocks.

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