The 4 Stepstones to Become Your True and Best Self

New research about the interconnection of authenticity, emotional intelligence and mindfulness


Janette Hoefer

3 years ago | 7 min read

A brand new study finds that the personality trait authenticity correlates closely with mindfulness and emotional intelligence. It suggests that we can increase our emotional intelligence further by becoming more authentic and vis versa.

Why is this important? Emotional intelligence (EI) is a fascinating topic. High EI brings so many benefits to the table and can be improved by our actions and habits.

For example, EI has a positive influence on our performance at work and success, our physical and mental health, our relationships and overall social intelligence. If you want to know more about it, here is a summary on EI, it’s importance, the research and general tips on improving it.

So let’s have a look at the study and how it’s findings can be converted into tips for improving our overall success, relationships and well-being.

What is authenticity

What does it mean to be authentic? To live authentically? The word “authenticity” itself has been kicked around a lot. If you are interested in a historical overview, I suggest having a look at the first chapter of this PDF, the dissertation of Brian M. Goldman.

One of the newer and often used frameworks for authenticity is the so-called “multicomponent conceptualization of psychological authenticity” by Goldman & Kernis from 2002.

It conceptualizes authenticity as “the unobstructed operation of one’s core or true self in one’s daily enterprise. Specifically, authenticity involves the following discriminable components: (1) awareness, (2) unbiased processing, (3) behavioural action, and (4) relational orientation.

Another way to describe authenticity that’s way shorter comes from the famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who also founded the analytical psychology: Carl Gustav Jung

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

For the previously mentioned new study, Stephen Joseph, a professor of psychology, health, and social care and his psychology researcher Ornella Tohme, both from the behavioural of Nottingham in England, worked with a differently nuanced definition:

“Authenticity isn’t about just saying what you think or doing what you want. Authentic people say and do things in a certain way. Carl Rogers believed that when you become more authentic, you become a certain type of person. In essence, you become more empathic, more accepting, both of yourself and others.

Authenticity is not a free for all, in which anything goes, but a way of being that is defined by emotional and psychological maturity.”

This definition points out authenticity as something that starts inside of you and eventually works its way out.

Inspired by this, Joseph and his colleague saw a connection between authenticity, mindfulness and emotional Intelligence. The premise of their study was to investigate if these predictions are accurate.

Just as a side note: They were not the first ones to draw a connection between emotional intelligence and mindfulness.

For example, in 1995 David Goleman, the author and science journalist who popularized the term “Emotional Intelligence” in his book “Emotional Intelligence — Why it can matter more than IQ” drew a connection between both principles.

For their study, Joseph et al. defined mindfulness as “being aware of one’s experiences without judgment.

They furthermore defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to process emotional information accurately and efficiently: The emotionally intelligent person is in control of their emotions, able to regulate their emotions, understand what they are feeling, and able to use their emotional soft skills.

The suggested correlation holds

The results of the study uncovered some fundamental insights. They confirm that authenticity really is correlated with mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

To be more specific:

“Authenticity was associated with mindfulness and emotional intelligence.”


“Authenticity predicted mindfulness taking into account emotional Intelligence and vice versa.”

People who scored higher for authenticity were:

  • Better at observing changes in their body
  • Able to describe their feelings more accurately
  • More aware of what is going on around them
  • More able to accept themselves.

The scientists summarized this as being more mindful.

People with higher authenticity also scored higher for emotional intelligence.

Further research needs to be conducted, but Joseph and his colleague do think that there is a two-way relationship between these aspects and authenticity.

They also claim that we can use this interconnection to our advantage:

“By practising the skills of mindfulness, and learning about emotional intelligence, a person may also give themselves the tools they need to become more authentic.

They can open themselves up to new ways of thinking about the world and themselves, become more observant and accepting of their emotional reactions to situations, giving them the chance to process information in a new way and to change and grow as a person.”

But, as they point out and most of us would probably agree: It takes courage to be your authentic self.

“Authenticity involves learning about yourself. That can mean facing up to things that you don’t like about yourself, admitting your failures and mistakes to yourself, being able to laugh at yourself, and most importantly the willingness to let go of rigid ideas from the past about who you think you are.”

Being authentic as a factor to increase your emotional intelligence alone is great. But with this interconnection that also includes mindfulness, the topic gets an even greater relevance.

Don’t we all kind of strive to (be able to) live an authentic life?

Thinking about this topic, I noticed that the four previously mentioned components of authenticity — awareness, unbiased processing, behavioural action, and relational orientation — are like a mirror for the four attributes of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

With the close interconnection of these factors, I created a loose framework; An overarching cluster that delivers guidance to improve our authenticity, emotional intelligence and mindfulness — all at once.

So let’s get to the most exciting part: How can we use what we learned above to improve and grow?

How to increase authenticity

1. Increase awareness = self-awareness

  • Really get to know yourself. It will take effort. It might hurt. But do it.
  • Practice mindfulness, e.g. build a regular meditation practice, start journaling. Or better: Do both.
  • Explore your values, your mission, your goals, your life’s purpose, or whatever you want to call it. Think about what makes you tick, what’s essential for you and if you die 50 years from now: What story shall other people tell at your funeral about your life and character?
  • Observe yourself objectively.
  • Examine your families believe systems, deep imprinted doubts and hidden (or obvious) traumata that influence your behaviour.
  • Recognize the masks you are wearing, in front of other people but even directed at yourself.
  • Be honest to yourself doing so.
  • Take a look at what you claim to be relevant to you and what you are actually doing. Look for discrepancies between your believes and behaviours.
  • Develop the courage to face your insecurities.

2. Improve behavioural action = self-management

  • Be compassionate and patient with yourself.
  • Embrace your vulnerabilities, don’t try to deny or hide them.
  • Don’t filter away what feels uncomfortable; Stay with it, be with it, accept it, work through it.
  • Increase the trust in yourself.
  • Allow yourself to change.
  • Recognize that developing authenticity takes time.
  • Continue to monitor yourself.
  • Strive to improve further.
  • Start listening more closely to your intuition or inner guidance.

3. Develop better unbiased processing = social awareness

  • Get into the habit of observing closely how your behaviour affects other people.
  • Observe as carefully how other peoples behaviour effects you. What feelings evoke? When does it get hard to stay authentic? What situations drive you to put on your mask again? What are ways to recalibrate and switch back to your authentic self?
  • Align your actions with your values and goals.
  • Get deeper into the habit of being truthful.
  • Accept feedback given by people close to you. Even ask for it.
  • Develop further compassion for others. They are humans, too. They struggle the same as you do.

4. Practice relational orientation = Relationship Management

  • Expand your honesty onto other people.
  • Make telling the truth to others a habit, too.
  • Think about your opinion towards white lies. Where is the fine line between being honest and authentic or being unnecessary revealing or even cruel sometimes?
  • Learn to say “No” without feeling guilty or forced to come up with an excuse.
  • Work on your communication skills to feel more comfortable with telling the truth even if it is not what people want to hear.
  • Have compassion for others.
  • Make statements and decisions consciously.

We know what we can do, if we want to improve and grow

Emotional intelligence has a big impact on our lives and society. Though crucial knowledge about it has been around some time it seems like we are just opening up to it’s further implications and practical indications for our life.

The knowledge about the uncovered interconnection between authenticity, emotional intelligence and mindfulness, another vehicle to improve has opened up that reveals hands-on implications everyone can implement into their lives. Of course you don’t have to.

But if that is something you are interested in: Give the tips above a try. You might end up seeing results faster then expected.

And after all: Even being a more authentic self alone doesn’t sound that bad, does it?

Originally published on Medium.

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Created by

Janette Hoefer

B2B communications professional, writer, tech enthusiast, serial experimenter. Interested in everything that might shape & fuel my mind & journey. Join my newsletter:







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